WHAT IS THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF

THE 'FEAST OF PURIM?'

By Dr. Lee Warren, B.A., D.D.

(c) September/October 1996 "PLIM REPORT"

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See Carnal Ordinances and Mosaic Law

Introduction

The ‘Feast of Purim’ was not one of the seven feasts that Yahweh instituted at Mt. Sinai after Israel came out of Egypt. Alfred Edersheim, D.D., Ph.D., in his book The Temple (Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.) states: “Besides the festivals mentioned in the law of Moses, other festive seasons were also observed at the time of our Lord, to perpetuate the memory either of great national deliverances or great national calamities (p. 330).”

The name Purim is derived from “the lots” which Haman, a Gentile, cast concerning the Jews’ fate while they were in Persia (Est. 3:6). Now the Jews initiated the ‘Feast of Purim’ after Yahweh miraculously delivered them from an extermination plot (Est. (9:17-24). Israel celebrated the ‘Feast of Purim’ on the 14th and 15th of the month Adar (March). According to the Dictionary of the Bible, the ‘Feast of Purim’ was never a national feast day that called for attendance at Jerusalem. However, Dr. Edersheim in his book Temple states it was a very popular festival (p. 331).

Did pride cause a man to kill an entire race?

When the Jews were exiled in Persia, Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, who hated the Jews, plotted to exterminate them all (Est. 3:6-8). Haman’s hostility against the Jews began to fester when Mordecai, a Jew, would not bow and give reverence to Haman, whom the king had exalted above all the princes of Persia (Est. 3:1-2). To avenge his wounded pride Haman got the king to issue a proclamation for all the non-Jews to kill and take the property of the Jews (Est. ) on the 13th of Adar (Est. 3:8-13).

Now there were two events that prevented this incident from happening. First, Mordecia had saved the king’s life from his two servants that plotted to kill him. Although Haman had a desire to hang Mordecai, the King in gratitude sought to reward him for this deed by bestowing a royal title on him (Est. 6:1-10). Second, Esther the queen interceded for Israel by asking her husband, the king to hang Haman at a banquet for his treachery (Est. 7:1-10).

Was the ‘Feast of Purim’ celebrated to remember deliverance?

The king, Queen Esther, and Mordecai issued another proclamation revoking Haman’s decree (Est. 8:7-11). Now on the 13th of Adar the Jews got their vengeance on their enemies instead of Haman destroying them (Est. 9:1-15). Mordecai made a proclamation, which began the feast of Purim. “And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far, To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor (Esther 9:20-22)."

What was required at this feast?

According to Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, the ‘Feast of Purim’ was one of joy. Friends and relatives gave alms and presents. On this feast day an Israelite could work. Mose Israelites read the book of Ester, offered prayers, recited the curse of Haman, and proclaimed the blessings of Esther and Mordecia to the congregation.

Did the Messiah fulfill the ‘Feast of Purim’?

The answer to the question is yes. Now some may ask how can the Messiah fulfill the ‘Feast of Purim’ (Mt. 5:17-18) when it is not in the law of Moses. Alfred Edersheim in his book The Temple states that the Messiah attended this ‘Feast of Purim.’ “There seems little doubt that this was the ‘feast of the Jews,’ to which the Savior ‘went up to Jerusalem’ when He healed the ‘impotent man’ at the Pool of Bethesda (p. 332).” There is great debate among the scholars what John meant by the ‘feast of the Jews (Jn. 5:1).’ John wrote: “After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem (Jn. 5:1).” No one knows for sure what feast day John is referring to here. Dr. Edersheim believes it was the ‘Feast of Purim’ because this is the only feast day that occurs between December and March-April, the time of the Passover (Jn:4:35, Jn. 6:4).

What is the Spiritual reality of the feast?

The ‘Feast of Purim’ represents the principle of Yahweh delivering Israel. The principle of deliverance can be traced throughout the scriptures.

Israel was in bondage to sin and death under the Law of Moses and it was the Messiah’s job to deliver Israel from this psychological death (Gal. 4:3-5). He was the sacrificial lamb that brought an end to sin (Jn. 1:29).

It was the Messiah’s resurrection and outpouring of the Holy Spirit that regenerated the human soul. Israel rejoiced at being released from Haman’s death decree. Likewise, all of mankind rejoiced that the Messiah redeemed us from the curse of spiritual death that we were under as a result of Adam’s and Eve’s transgression. Paul said that the Messiah would: “…deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Heb 2:15).” In principle, we can see that anytime we are delivered from an adversity in life, which has us in bondage, this is truly the ‘Feast of Purim’ for each of us.

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