Wednesday, March 16, 2022, marks the celebration of Purim, also known as the feast of Esther. At this joyous feast, Jewish people gather to recall God’s protection in days of old. special foods are consumed, people dress up and read the Megillat Ester or scroll of Esther in the synagogue, where a lot of noise is made at the calling of the names of the three main protagonists: Mordechai, Esther and Haman. Additionally, gifts are exchanged, as well as donations made to charity.
• PURIM IN THE BIBLE: The only time we read about Purim, is at the end of the book of Esther–a book about God’s miraculous preservation of the Jewish people–even though this is the only book of the Bible where God is never mentioned by name. This didn’t prevent God from orchestrating an incredible story of survival, redemption and blessing, albeit behind the scenes.
The story of Purim is also a very strong post-Genesis example of God’s promise to Abraham to bless those who bless him and curse him who curses Abraham (Genesis 12:3). Haman, the archenemy of the Jews built gallows to hang Mordechai, and at the end, he and all of his sons were hanging on these very gallows…A curse for a curse! People ought to take the promise made by God to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 very seriously. In a sense, it is God’s foreign policy when it comes to Israel, and it has proven true all throughout history (biblical and post-biblical).
Haman’s approach to the “Jewish problem” is worth looking at from the perspective of Satan, the ultimate enemy of the Jews. Early in the scriptures, in Genesis 3, Satan came up with a master plan: Use people – even Eve – to destroy the Jews on a global scale – and antisemitism was born! The reason? Satan is very familiar with the message of the Bible and with God’s master plan for the world in general and for Israel and the Jewish people in particular.
Satan knows that the day that the Jewish people recognize Yeshua as their long-awaited Messiah as told in Zechariah 12:10, will usher in His return, but that will also mark the beginning of the end of Satan’s career of hatred and destruction. In an attempt at postponing it all–since he cannot prevent it, Satan is the mastermind behind the longest hatred. He is the creator of antisemitism and he continually subcontracts his hatred against the Jews to various groups through the ages, making the most irrational thoughts, words and deeds appear very rational to those who listen to him. The book of Esther tells us the story of how Satan used Haman to go after the Jews. He could have succeeded, but he did not, because God is greater, even behind-the-scenes.
In Esther chapter 3, Haman puts his curse against the Jews in motion, and because of one Jew, namely Mordecai, Haman seeks to destroy all of them. We start seeing the irrational behaviors promoted by an antisemitic heart. Haman seeks to destroy ALL THE JEWS of the Persian Empire where many of them lived at the time.
In a sense, Haman tried to make antisemitism a government-sanctioned policy, something that will be picked up again much later in history by Nazi Germany. We read in Esther 3:1-2, 5-6 “After these events, King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage…. When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him who the people of Mordecai were; therefore, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.
Furthermore, in verse 8, Haman proceeds to give the reason why the Jews are not wanted in Ahasuerus’ kingdom, and that is simply because THEY ARE DIFFERENT. “Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people, and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain.
Because of his hatred for one man who happened to be Jewish, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews of the kingdom. This was a very extreme decision, driven by an irrational desire to hold all people of the same ethnic group responsible because of one of theirs who actually wasn’t guilty of anything but faithfulness to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Haman was on a mission to destroy all the Jews.
However, he also realized that his endeavor would require some logistical finesse, so in Esther 3:9-13, we read that he asked the king to issue a decree for the destruction of the Jewish people, knowing that a royal decree cannot be canceled or ignored. Not only did he ask for the decree, but he also committed to financing the whole project out of his own wealth. “If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business,…And letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder.
While it might not be obvious at first glance, the process by which Haman sought to annihilate all the Jews within his reach and the one used by Hitler and the Nazi regime have many similarities. There is nothing new under the sun. Consider the parallels between Haman and Hitler in these five points:
• One Man’s jealousy led to uncontrolled hatred (3:5)
• Targeted hatred became global hatred (3:6, 13)
• Hatred was apparently caused because of non-conformity (3:8)
• Attempted annihilation of the Jews was structured and organized (3:9-13)
• Funds were spent and financial wealth was provided for the perpetrators (3:9, 4:7)
Fast forward to the 1930s and 1940s, and we see how Hitler developed his well-organized “factory of death” against the Jewish people.
• PURIM in the 1940s: Soon after coming to power, Hitler quickly banned the celebration of Jewish festivals including Purim. In a speech delivered the day after Kristallnacht, in November 1938, Julius Streicher (1885-1946), Hitler’s “Director of the Central Committee for the Defense against Jewish Atrocity and Boycott Propaganda” declared that since the Jews killed 75,000 Persians in the days of Esther, the same fate could befall the German people and so the Jews had to be stopped. Streicher was also the publisher of the virulently antisemitic newspaper Der Stürmer. After the war, he was never accused of any actions or orders against the Jews but for thoughts and words published in his newspaper and as a result, he was convicted of “crimes against humanity” and sentenced to death. The Nuremberg military tribunal declared, “Streicher’s incitement of murder and extermination at the time when Jews in the East were being killed under the most horrible conditions clearly constitutes persecution on political and racial grounds in connection with war crimes as defined by the Charter, and constitutes a crime against humanity.”
Again, the “curse-for-a-curse” biblical principle was applied to Streicher, who, on October 16, 1946, was executed on the gallows at the end of the Nuremberg Trials. Streicher’s final words before he was let down into the gallows trap door was “Purim Fest 1946”, as his final claim that the Jews were out to get him. It would have required a certain knowledge of the Jewish lifestyle and festivals for Streicher to even make that parallel.
• PURIM IN 2022: Satan knows that he cannot succeed, but he tries without ceasing. He has indoctrinated much of the world against the Jewish people, creating antisemitism and making it the oldest and most enduring form of hatred against an ethnic group. While he keeps sub-contracting his hatred to different groups of people, the danger remains the same and the Jewish people continue to be the “scapegoats of humanity”. The same approach used in biblical days and during Hitler’s reign is used today by historical revisionists, BDS promoters, Christian Palestinianism proponents and all other enemies of Israel and the Jewish people. Unfortunately, Satan has even been able to infiltrate and indoctrinate the church. If all these groups had their way, Israel would be erased from the map and the Jewish people completely eradicated from existence and from history. But in a very “Purimesque” ending, the Jewish people will continue to flourish as promised by God Himself in Jeremiah 31:35-37 and Israel will prevail because of God.
Jeremiah 31:35-37 35 Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar the Lord of hosts is his name: 36 “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the Lord, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.” 37 Thus says the Lord: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.”
Be it during biblical times, during the 1930s and 1940s, or even today, through thick and thin, God has always had Israel in the palm of His hand. Even though He was absent by name in the book of Esther, and it felt more like “the eclipse of God” during the Holocaust, He never reneged on His promises. So, we can celebrate Purim with confidence and with joy because the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob Who was behind the scenes in the days of Esther, has our back and He never changes His mind or the recipients of His promises.
Chag Purim Sameach! Happy Purim!