The festival of Purim is a holiday instituted in the Bible during the captivity of the Southern Kingdom of Judah by the Jews. It revolves around the story found in the book of Esther. Today, the festival is celebrated in grand majority by the Jews as another powerful testimony of God’s deliverance. Customarily, Purim goes accompanied by lots of feasting, rejoicing, the retelling of the book of Esther in creative ways, dressing up in ancient Biblical fashion, and of course, lots of Hamantaschen.
Purim is not a mandated celebration. However, it was instituted to remember how Yahweh put an end to the schemes against His people. The festival is established in Esther 9:18-32 as taking place on the 14th and 15th days of the 12th month called Adar.
“And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.”
~ Esther 9:20-22
As for the name, Purim is the Hebrew plural for “lot.” As the Bible explains:
“So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them, because Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to annihilate them, and had cast Pur (that is, the lot), to consume them and destroy them; but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that this wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur.”
~ Esther 9:23-26a
This festival, though started by the Jews, is relevant to all followers of God. The Jews acknowledged this when they created it, as they wanted it to be celebrated by all who would join them in the feast to remember God’s mighty hand of deliverance once again shown in this story.
“Therefore, because of all the words of this letter, what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had happened to them, the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who would join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days every year, according to the written instructions and according to the prescribed time, that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants.”
~ Esther 9:26b-28
Though not one of the God-ordained Feast Days found in Leviticus 23, Purim testifies to the same power of God to turn our mourning to joy and His promise to give us rest from our enemies when we hold fast to Him and His ways. When Yeshua returns, He will be doing the same thing once and for all, bringing down the principalities and kingdoms of this world and establishing a rest for His people from all their enemies, including the arch-nemesis of God, the adversary himself. What a joyful thing to look forward to and find within the story and elements of Purim!