The Feast of Purim Established
20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite,the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.
29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance— 31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. 32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.(Esther 9:20-32 NIV)
Mordecai wanted the Jewish people for all generations going forward to remember what God had done for them, how God had given them rest from their enemies. So he established the Feast of Purim and sent an official letter out to all the Jews across the Persian empire with a reminder about the nature of the feast, and how to celebrate.
In true Jewish fashion, good news was to be celebrated. Listen to David’s words:
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy…
(Psalm 30:11 NIV)
Mordecai wanted this memorial time to be one of feasting and celebration for what God in His Providence had done for the Jewish people. This celebration was not to be about what the Jewish people had done for themselves, bur rather how God had intervened in their day of distress.
Verses 29 – 32 tells us that Esther also sent out a letter to the Jews across Persia to reinforce what Mordecai had written. Note that neither of these letters were signed by the king, so they were not laws to be enforced, but rather, celebrations to be enjoyed.
God often instructed Moses to mark days on the calendar as official celebrations of what God had miraculously done on behalf of His people. Examples included the Feast of the Passover as they left Egypt, the picking up of the twelve stones from the bottom of the Red Sea as they passed through, and the building of the alter on the other side with those stones as a memorial, the Feast of Booths, etc.
What “markers” or memorials do you have in your life or your family’s life, of how God intervened, either miraculously, or through His Divine Providence using regular means, for your good? Do you celebrate those times each year, remembering and praising the Lord for His provision? If not, now is a good time to make your list and add it to your calendar…