As we approach spring, we begin to approach the spring Feasts, such as Passover and Unleavened Bread. Most of us know the stories behind these Feasts, as they are commanded for all of God’s people to observe in the Torah. However, what about the Feast of Purim? What is the Feast of Purim? Does the Bible command us to observe it as it does the seven other Feasts of God?
Purim is a celebration adopted by the Jewish people to memorialize and celebrate the salvation of the Jewish people and the escape from destruction as described in the book of Esther, when Haman contrived an evil plot which deceived the King of Persia to allow all the Jews within Ancient Persia to be destroyed. This plan was supernaturally thwarted by Mordechai and Esther, and as a result, the Jewish people were preserved and Haman, as well as his family, fell into his own trap.
Purim literally means “lots” as it is Jewish tradition that the wicked man Haman tossed lots to help him decide when to carry out his horrific genocide.
Purim is celebrated every year in the late winter or early spring on the 14th of the Hebrew month Adar.
Where is Purim mentioned in the Bible?
We find the tradition of the celebrating Purim in the book of Esther after Haman’s wicked plan was thwarted. Purim was celebrated by feasting, rejoicing and sending food to one another. Consider the following verse.
“This was done on the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing.18 But the Jews who were in Susa assembled on the thirteenth and the fourteenth of the same month, and they rested on the fifteenth day and made it a day of feasting and rejoicing.19 Therefore the Jews of the rural areas, who live in the rural towns, make the fourteenth day of the month Adar a holiday for rejoicing and feasting and sending portions of food to one another.” Esther 9:17-19 NASB
Did Jesus Celebrate Purim?
One question that may come up for Christians is “did Jesus celebrate the minor Feast of Purim?” We know He went up to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage Feasts as is commanded by Torah, but what about the minor Feasts which are not a command, such as Purim and Hanukkah? In short, we can not be completely sure, but the Gospels seem to suggest that He most definitely did. Twice, we see Jesus going up for an unknown Feast, once in the spring, which seemed to proceed Passover, and then again in the winter. These are likely the minor Feasts which we just discussed. Consider the following verses:
“After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” John 5:1 NASB
The question becomes, what is the “Feast of the Jews?” If it was Passover, then one would expect it to plainly state as such, as it does in other parts of the Gospels. This “feast of the Jews” also seems to proceed Passover as we see in the following chapter of John, that Passover was near.
“But Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.” John 6:3-4 NASB
Then we also see Jesus celebrating Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication in Hebrew in the winter, which also further provides evidence that He did indeed acknowledge these minor Feasts.
“At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple area, in the portico of Solomon.” John 10:22-23 NASB
Why Worry About Purim in Our Day?
I believe, like the days of Esther, we are living in a time and a world in which there is much hostility towards God’s people. When we look at the madness we are facing today, it can be easy to become greatly discouraged and lose hope. The story of Purim and Queen Esther serves as a great reminder that God loves and provides for His people, and ultimately, the enemy will fall into their own evil traps, just as Haman hung on his own gallows, meant for Mordechai.
“May the wicked fall into their own nets, While I pass by safely.” Psalm 141:10 NASB