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Chag Sameach Purim 2014!

Posted by Dr. Fay on March 16, 2014

The Jewish festival of Purim began last night and continues until nightfall tonight.  It is a celebration of God’s deliverance of the Jews through the faithfulness of a beautiful young woman named Esther.  She was selected for King Xerxes because of her beauty and eventually became his queen.  When her uncle Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, the king’s chief officer, Haman persuaded the king to annihilate the Jews.  Esther had kept her Jewish identity secret at Mordecai’s request.  Mordecai asked her to go to the king and ask for this decree to be reversed, saying:

Esther 4:14

New International Version (NIV)

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther was afraid, but finally agreed to do so.   Some like to note that God’s name is not mentioned directly in the Book of Esther, but I think this remark by Esther shows clearly that the Jews worshipped him and that the coming deliverance was from His hand.

Esther 4:16

New International Version (NIV)

16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Appearing before the king without a summons was an act punishable by death.  But Esther went after she and all the Jews had prayed and fasted for three days.  The following verse describes how God gave her favor with the king.

Esther 5:1-3

New International Version (NIV)

Esther’s Request to the King

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

Esther responded by asking for a banquet with the king and Haman and telling him she would give him her request then.  At the banquet, she asked King Xerxes to spare her people, the Jews.

Esther 7:3-6

New International Version (NIV)

Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.[a]

King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?”

Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”
Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen.

The end result was that the Jews were spared, Haman met the fate he had planned for Mordecai, and Mordecai was elevated to Haman’s position.

Chabad.org has a printable guide that describes the Purim observances during the yearly celebration of this deliverance.   At the time of this writing,  most of these  have already taken place for this year.

Governor Sarah Palin views Esther as one of her role models.  Rebecca Phillips writes at Tablet:

In 2008, Esther even entered the realm of Christianity and politics. Vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin embraced Queen Esther as a role model. According to Vanity Fair, Palin asked several pastors for examples of biblical leadership that she could strive to mimic. “Quoting scripture,” writer Michael Joseph Gross explained, “the pastor told Palin that she, like Esther, had ‘come to the Kingdom for such a time as this.’ ” Many Palin supporters took up this comparison, and Palin herself encouraged it, noting that she often chose the Book of Esther as bedtime reading for her daughter Piper.

In 2011, Governor Palin visited Israel during Purim and had dinner with Primer Minister Netanyahu and his wife.  Elad Benari and Yoni Kempinski wrote:

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin concluded her visit to Israel on Monday by visiting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his family. The Palin couple arrived at the Prime Minister’s official residence for a dinner which was defined as personal rather than political and was based on the Israeli cuisine.

Palin, who is known for her uncompromising support for the State of Israel, told Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, that she was received warmly by the Israelis and also told them all about her tour of the country, which included seeing sites in Jerusalem (such as the Kotel)and the Dead Sea. In most places, Palin saw firsthand the atmosphere of the holiday of Purim, and the Netanyahu couple told the potential candidate for President of the United States all about the Book of Esther and the traditions of Purim.

Read more (video included).

Even though Purim is now drawing to an end for this year, we at SPIB want to wish all of our Jewish friends and readers Chag Sameach Purim!

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