Purim II

Hadasseh, the Beautiful

Esther, named after Ashterah, a goddess of that country, was the Persian or Babylonian name of the Jewish captive. Hadasseh was her Hebrew name. She was a beautiful young girl with a character, I imagine, to be somewhat like that of Miryam, the mother of Y’shua. God had chosen them both for a very special purpose in life and they both met the challenge. We would do well to imitate these attributes. Esther was an orphan raised by her cousin, Mordecai. She was his uncle’s daughter but the Bible calls him her uncle (?). He must have cared for her very much as no mention is made of any other family members and he seemed devoted to her.
This book was written about events which take place over a 10 year period. 483 – 473 BC. It is the only record we have of Jewish life in Babylon/Persia/now Iran. The events occur between the 6th and 7th chapters of Ezra – which is between the two ‘returns’ to Israel. The first being led by Zerubbabel and the second by Ezra. Some scholars believe Ezra wrote the book, others opt for Mordecai himself, but most now believe it was by one of his younger contemporaries.
Ahasuerus is a Hebrew name; Xerxes – the Greek name of Khshayarsh, the Persian king. He has also been referred to as Ahashverosh – whoever he was, he was certainly a man of emotional extremes, whose actions were often strange and contradictory. These Jewish people he ruled over were not even supposed to be in Persia. They should have gone home to Israel with Zerubbabel. It was a case of comfort and ease. They made good livings in this civilized place – why go back to rocks and ruin? The meat of the story is in Chapters 9 and 10 and we will read that next. Here is a little of the history and customs of the Jews concerning Purim. Two things we can learn today for sure! The name of the wicked Amalakite is pronounced “HAH-man” and we eat the filled cookie “Hamantashchen” which means Haman’s hats. It is not Hay-man. The other is the name of the festival itself. “Poo-REEM”, which rhymes with “who cream” and not Pure-rim or even poo-rim. Having become so educated – let’s see how this thing is celebrated.

Purim, an extra-Mosaic Festival
This festival was not ordered by God but by Mordecai and there are Four Main ways to celebrate:

(1) The reading of the Megillah, (the whole Book of Esther) the Hallel (song of praise) of the day. Singing and dancing and praising the Lord are the order of the day. Once again God has given Y’shua (salvation) to the Jews. Once again God acted at just the right time!
(2) Festivity and Rejoicing: partaking of scrumptious foods and extending “Yom Tov” (good day greetings to one another. We have reason to celebrate, so let’s do it with gusto!
(3) Giving of gifts to one another. This is called “Mishloach Manot”. It must consist of sweets or other ready-to-eat-edibles and a drink and it is given to display your love and good-will. Gifts of clothing or money are NOT acceptable. Little baskets or attractive packages – even paper plates, can be fixed up to give.
(4) Sending of Gifts to the Poor. It is a custom to send two portions for the poor. In ancient days, a portion meant three halves of the basis of the currency. In our day, that would mean $1.50. Our basic currency is $1.00 so this is three halves. Two portions would be $3.00. That amount could be given for the poor. Together, that could add up! But the main thing is – we are to give to the poor. This contribution is made in remembrance of the 1/2 shekel given by the Israelites when the Temple still stood. The half-shekel is now being made in Israel again as we get closer to a new Temple.

This festival is a time of National pride – pride in Israel and pride in our true home – the Kingdom of God! We are only visitors here – this is not our home! Praise God! We can resist conforming to thi

A word about disguises:

It is customary to wear disguises on Purim. Esther was disguised. Her true identity was not revealed until it was necessary. Please consider at least a mask and/or a hat!

Yom Tov! See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

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