“The same days on which the Yehudim enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy. They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.” Esther 9:22 (The Israel Bible™)
If there was ever a quintessentially Jewish holiday, it’s Purim, when the Jewish people were threatened by Haman, a descendant of Amalek, and saved by God’s hidden hand. Even so, we find examples of people from the Nations being inspired by the story of Purim and even gathering to mark the day alongside the Jewish people.
The Bible teaches us that Amalek, the eternal enemy of the Jewish people, was the grandson of Esau.
Jewish tradition teaches that there is an Amalek in every generation. There is ongoing rabbinic debate over the identity of Amalek in our generation.
The celebration of Purim is preceded by the dawn to nightfall fast of Esther. In a brand new podcast from HaYovel, Joshua Waller helps listeners from the Christian world connect to God’s deliverance against the enemies of the Jews, a central theme of the holiday of Purim, by pointing out that the current threat facing the Jewish people parallels the one for which the Fast of Esther was originally called.
In the podcast, which was recorded during the fast of Esther this year, Joshua connected the ancient threat in Biblical times to our contemporary period when he said, “Most of Israel is fasting and the fast of Purim, as you can imagine, is a fast that’s asking for God’s mercy because they are in a dire need. And I believe Israel is in this point right now.”
“Right now, we’re fasting in prayer that God would save Israel out of distress from all of her enemies. Right now, we’ve got this enemy, just like Haman, against the people of God and fighting against their every move. It’s been something that’s been from generation to generation. Now it’s the same. We’ve got Hamans raising their heads to fight against Israel.”
With these words, Waller used the context of the Purim story to call on the Christian world to support Israel today.
In an op-ed Breaking Israel News publisher Rabbi Tuly Weisz echoed the call of Waller when he wrote, “Throughout our history, the Jewish people have had few friends and many accusers as Haman’s accusation has surfaced in nearly every generation. Thankfully, today, there are millions of Christians all over the world returning to the texts of our Tanakh and the stories of the Hebrew Bible. We should all go into Purim with extra ‘joy and gladness’ in appreciation of the many non-Jews who are following in the footsteps of Queen Esther to stand with Israel ‘for such a time as this.’”
On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to theYehudim from another quarter, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis.” Esther 4:14
In addition to using the Purim story as a source for ideological support of Israel, some Christians actually mark the holiday of Purim with a communal reading of the Book of Esther.
Last year, at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Tennessee, Israel365, the NRB and Tennessee’s Congregation Sherith Israel organized a reading of the Book of Esther on the holiday of Purim for approximately 100 Jews and Christians together.
“This is a first at the Convention and truly a blessed occasion when Jews and Christians can celebrate God’s miracles together,” wrote NRB in its official announcement about the reading.
In Brandon, Florida, the members of For Zion’s Sake Ministry celebrate Purim with their annual communal reading of the Book of Esther. In this video of last year’s reading at For Zion’s Sake Ministry, the Book of Esther is being read in English.
In Jewish communities, The Book of Esther is read from a Hebrew parchment scroll. However, the costumes, and the custom of booing or otherwise making noise to drown out the sound of the enemy Haman’s name during the reading, is similar.
Speaking about the activities at For Zion’s Sake Ministry, community member Beth O’Brien said, “Our community is so blessed. Our lives are forever changed, for grabbing hold of our Jewish teacher, and desiring all that Abba has for us… Our lives, as yours, are built around walking in His ways, supporting Israel and the Jewish people. A very rich life, indeed!”