Posted in Jewish Holidays Purim on February 15th, 2018 Jewish Days of Distinction Purim Purim or The Feast of Lots is a celebration of the deliverance of the Jewish people in Persia at the hand of a Jewish heroine, Queen Esther. The Jewish day of distinction, Purim, means “lots” and carries an ironic hidden message because Haman, the story’s villain and enemy of the Jews, plotted to eradicate them by casting lots (Esther 9:24). Jewish people remember this feast on 14 Adar in celebration of Queen Esther’s great victory and the survival of the Jewish race. Read The book of Esther Hebrew Word Esther is taken from the Hebrew root, hester, and means “hidden.” He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; And He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver. (Isaiah 49:2, NAS). Scripture does not make it perfectly clear if Esther was an orphan or not, but we know she was separated from her parents at a tender age and raised by her uncle, Mordecai. As a young woman, Esther left home and was placed in the heart of a foreign kingdom to enter a beauty contest of sorts. In today’s context that is like a young orphan girl entering a bachelorette reality contest in the White House for the prize of marrying the president. Esther’s identity as a Jewess remained hidden from all for good reason. The time for revelation had not arrived. Not only did her race stay concealed, but the woman covered her personal desires as well. She submitted to the cleansing diet and beauty treatments prescribed to her. Esther adhered to the advice of her mentor, Hegai, not depending on her own ideas or thoughts about how to win the king’s favor. Esther won the contest and the heart of the king. He loved her above all and became his prize. God gave Esther great favor with King Xerxes personally, so much so that she uncovered a plan to destroy the Jews of Persia and revealed the evil devisor of that plot. Eventually, Esther fasted and then risked her life to approach the king with this knowledge, and is honored today for her courage. For the rest of her life Esther lived in the king’s palace. She began her mission in hiddenness and in some ways remained hidden, a servant to the will of God and not subservient to her own wishes. We know nothing of the young woman’s dreams and desires—her soul remains hidden, yet her spirit shines brightly in triumph over the enemy. But we understand she laid her life down to save her nation. There is so much emphasis today on pursuing individual dreams and desires and being “true to yourself.” It is clear that Queen Esther laid all of that down to find her destiny. Perhaps her true desire was to go home and live a normal life with her uncle. Maybe she didn’t love the king as he loved her. Still, her plans for her own life are not an important part of the story. As the disciples of Yeshua who follow Him in daily life, we are often stripped and whittled down like the arrows of God, hidden in His quiver (Isaiah 49:2). Sometimes it appears that some of our “desires” have not worked out as we thought. Perhaps they have been dashed on the rock of disappointment as we wait to uncover our destiny. We groan in darkness as we struggle without the recognition or applause of those around us. Esther contented herself with the destiny God designed for her. She lost her life and gained new purpose to deliver a nation. Like the arrow, stripped and hidden in the darkness of His quiver, she waited in peace until God lifted her up, aimed, and shot her out with divine direction. Esther hit the mark of God’s calling with perfect accuracy. Prayer Lord, illumine my heart with hope as I wait in hiddenness upon You to prepare and guide me for my destiny with Your perfect plans. Celebration Traditions During Purim, the story of Esther is read from a book called The Megillah in Hebrew. As a reader tells the tale, listeners drown out the name “Haman” each time it is used by shaking a “grogger” or noisemaker. Many dress in costumes and masks to “hide” their identity as Esther did. There is always fun speculation if the costume one chooses conceals or reveals his/her true identity. A special meal at home is prepared and the traditional sweet pastry called “Haman’s Ears” is baked. Sometimes both adults and children put on a play or “spiel” re-enacting the story of Purim with humor often using modern-day characters.