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Sundown today  (or 6:00 p.m.) begins the Jewish religious holiday of Purim, also called the festival of Purim and the Festival of Lots. There are six biblical feast days or God-ordained observances beginning with Passover. There are also two Rabbinical religious holidays, not ordered by God, but chosen by the Jews to celebrate historical events that saved them from mass genocide (Purim) or loss of their religious identity (Hanukkah) .

The story is found in the Book of Esther. Judah had been taken captive into Babylon in 586 B.C. They were released from bondage in 536 B.C., but only a few returned home. Many chose to stay in Babylon which was now under Persian rule, a more tolerant administration to the Jews.

There still was, however, much hatred toward Jews, many of whom had settled in the area of Sushan (present day Iran). Haman was such a hater, and he was second in command next to King Ahasuerus. He tricked the King into ordering all Jews in the kingdom to be killed on a certain day and all citizens were to seek them out to kill them.

Esther was the Queen. It was not known in the King’s court that she was a Jew. She appeared to be a most beautiful Persian or Babylonian woman. Her Uncle Mordecai informed her of Haman’s evil plan. After much planning of how to win the king’s favor, she was finally able, at the risk of her own life, to reveal her Hebrew (Jewish) blood to the King and inform him of Haman’s plan to kill all her people.

Ahasuerus was greatly saddened, but he legally could not rescind the order. He came up with a plan. He issued a new order for all Jews to arm themselves and defend their lives even if it meant killing those who sought to kill them. That “saved the day” because citizens were not going to risk their own lives just to kill a Jew. The Jewish people were saved. Haman was executed by the King for his plot.

Mordecai declared the day to be kept as a holy day annually in perpetuity. Thus, we have Purim on the 14th day of Adar (the last month of the Jewish religious calendar), thirty days before Passover, on the 14th of Nissan (first month). Jews in Jerusalem and in walled cities celebrate on the 15th day of Adar, and it is called Purim Sushan. It is a joyous celebration with certain special foods, much eating, much wine, and parties with masked costumes. We rejoice also that God has spared them for nearly four thousand years since the time of Abraham. No other nation or ethnic/religious people has survived so long. To God be the glory. Just as He has preserved His chosen people, so will He also preserve His remnant of Christ-followers in the last days. 

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