Weekly Bible Teaching

Esther and the Origin of Purim
By Rev. John Cortright on 03/20/2011


In the Bible, there are three major feasts from the Torah – The Feast of Unleavened Bread/Passover, the Feast of Weeks/First Fruits, and the Feast of Tabernacles or Booth/The Ingathering (Ex 23:14-17; Lev 23:1ff; Deut 16:16). One of the most popular Jewish holidays is Hanukkah, though not a biblical feast. The feast of Purim is another biblical celebration, which was started in the time of Esther.

Purim is to be celebrated on the 14th of the 12 month on the Hebrew calendar or in the month of Adar. This year, 2011, the 14th of Adar began last night, March 19th at sunset. Today is Purim.

Esther 1:1 Ahasuerus is most likely Xerxes, which is the Greek name of this Persian king who ruled from 486 - 465BC. At this time the Jewish People were living in captivity in Persia.

Esther 1:2ff; 2:1-20

After Queen Vashti was released of her royal position, Ahasuerus appointed overseers in his kingdom to find young women that might become queen in place of Vashti. The young Jewish woman, Esther, found favor in the king’s sight, and she became queen (Esther 2:17). Esther was raised by her cousin Mordecai. Esther was a Jew, but Ahasuerus and his people did not know.

Esther 2:21-23
- Mordecai informed Esther of a plot to kill King Ahasuerus.

Esther 3:1ff

Haman was promoted in Ahasuerus’ kingdom. All the servants were to bow to him, but Mordecai refused to bow. Haman became filled with rage and devised a plan to kill not only Mordecai, but all of the Jews in the kingdom.

Esther 4:1-9

This plot to kill her people was revealed to Esther. However, Esther had not been summoned by the king. It was not lawful for her to approach him without being summoned.

Esther 4:10-14

“Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” Perhaps, God has a purpose for your life. Who knows why you are where you are, when you are in this life? Are you willing to say, “Yes, Lord?”

Esther 4:15-16
- Esther’s attitude was, “If I perish, I perish.”

Esther 5:1ff, 6:1ff
- God orchestrated this deliverance for His people

Esther 7:1ff
- Haman is hanged on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai.

Esther 8:1ff, 9:1-16
– The Jews prospered in Persia and destroyed their enemies in the land. This final deliverance occurred on the 13th of the month Adar. On the 14th of the month, they rested, and they had a feast on the 15th. This was the first celebration of Purim (Esther 9:17-19).

Esther 9:20-32
- The custom of Purim was to be celebrated these two days annually in the month Adar.

Esther 10:1-3
Mordecai, the Jew became second in command to King Ahasuerus.

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