The celebrating after the Jews were safe became a yearly holiday. Purim begins with the decree of Mordecai to honor this day of deliverance.
This is indeed a day to celebrate! A day that God brought, once again, victory out of despair. The Jewish people were marked for death by Haman and his hatred but God brought that hatred back on Haman’s own head. Even his sons received the penalty he had sought for Mordecai and the Jews.
There are a couple of things I was curious about. The first is whether or not Purim fell into disuse like many of the other holy days God had given the people. The second is how Purim got from Persia to Judah.
After thinking about these questions, and doing a bit of googling on them, I realized the second question had an easy answer. “The land Beyond the River” was a province of Persia too. This was the description used for the land Israel used to occupy, including the territory of Judah. This is how the king of Persis had authority to protect the Jews as they rebuilt the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem. The Jews here would have been just as susceptible to Haman’s decree as in any other province controlled by the king of Persia. In fact, I can just imagine the ‘neighbors’ being exceedingly happy with Haman’s edict. They were NOT happy about the reestablishment of the Jewish people.
The first question took a little bit more thinking. Remember in some of our previous readings how some of the holy days that God had established were observed “once again.” The Feast of Booths, Sukkot, comes to mind as well as Passover. Sukkot wasn’t celebrated since leaving the wilderness until the exiles came back and rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem. All that time when Israel was living in the land, they neglected this feast set up by God. Passover fell by the wayside for MANY years too. Even David neglected this observance. It only restarted with King Hezekiah. He even had to delay it a little so that the priests and Levites could consecrate themselves for service. He invited ALL the Jews that remained in the land to join with Judah.
Interesting how the resurgence of these holidays follows a great upheaval. Sukkot started again after the Jews were released from captivity. Passover restarted after Israel was taken captive. Maybe these things got the people focusing on the Lord.
So I wanted to know if there was a period when Purim fell by the wayside. I didn’t find an exact answer to that question. I did find that celebration of Purim has changed since its inception. I also found one article telling the story of how Purim became the most important day for the Jews living in Mallorca Spain. This title stopped me in my searching tracks and I had to read it. The story states that, as the other holidays were too obvious in identifying Jewish individuals, Purim allowed the persecuted Jews of the area to celebrate without being discovered.
I have a feeling that, after the previous example, there are probably times and places where Purim took on more meaning. Hanukkah has certainly done likewise. Those outside the Jewish faith mostly see it as an alternative to Christmas celebrations which honor the birth of Christ. It’s actually another story of God’s hand of deliverance and a rededication of the Temple. The story of Hanukkah isn’t included in the bible so we won’t be reading it but it is still a GREAT story of God’s deliverance.
I find it interesting how one day gains significance over another for different people throughout the world. Some are adapted, some are adopted, and some are downright unforgettable to those who lived through them. The 14th and 15th of Adar were the latter for the Jews in the provinces of Persia. Mordecai and Ester saw to it that those days would be honored by the Jews from then on. I wonder how many generations it took to morph into the “Jewish Halloween” some say Purim resembles.
A day turned “from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday” (verse 22b) is certainly reason to celebrate. This day was a times 1,000! Ester and Mordecai made sure the people wouldn’t forget.
God can turn ANY day into one of ‘deliverance’ when we rely on Him. We don’t have to mark them all with a holiday but it is good to remember. When my husband’s mind finally started clearing after his open heart surgery, I coined that day his “re-birthday”. He came ‘back to life’ after being on the ventilator for ten days and cognitively absent for four more. I didn’t mark this day annually but I still think about it and praise God for it.
Father God, thank You for all the ‘holy days’ You have made in my life. The days when You turned my mourning into gladness. The days when You reached down and touched my life in both little and big ways. Thinking about them now, I see SO MANY of them! The day I learned how I became illogical when I got angry. The day I received a letter in the mail telling me I was approved for housing. The day I learned my brother could not repay the loan I made to him. The day I received a check in the mail after just finishing praying for Your help with my dire finances. Days that mean nothing to others but are significant to me because they were the days when victory started. Even the day I learned about the ‘loan’ became a day of victory because I leaned a bit more into You. The ‘housing’ day came not much later and it solved the problem of the lost money completely. You are SO faithful!!! And You are worthy to be praised for ALL Your works!