FAST OF ESTHER / FEAST OF PURIM



fast of Esther

Days of Purim (Lots)

feast of Purim




The book of Esther institutes the ceremonial observance of 3 days of
fasting and 2 days of celebration.


These days of Purim were to be observed in remembrance of the salvation
God provided for the Jews in the later days of the Persian Empire.


THE FAST OF ESTHER


On the 13th of the first month Haman issued a decree for the annihilation
of the Jews which was to take effect later that year. Mordecai after
reading the decree proceeded to inform Esther and to encourage her to
promptly plead the cause of her people before her husband the king.


Esther being concerned about approaching the king requested that all Jews
present in the city fast for the following 3 days, she and her maids would
also fast. 


This 3 day fast was observed by these Jews on the 14th, 15th and 16th of
the first month, ie the 3 days following the day of the issue of Haman's
decree on the 13th. These three fast days fell on Passover day, and the
first two days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread!


Many have disputed the timing of this fast based on the following
concerns,

         -  A fast on Passover day would be contrary to the Law.
            It would prevent the eating of the commanded Passover
            meal!

         -  The command to eat unleavened bread for 7 days,
            Exod 12:15, seems to suggest fasting would not be
            acceptable during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.



Nevertheless, there is a verse in the New Testament which when correctly
translated and understood confirms the implied timing.

    Luke  18:11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus ...
            :12  I fast twice the week {not 'a week'}, ...

   
                 This comment is not based upon any Jewish
                 man made custom of fasting two days in
                 every week, but upon the teaching of the
                 book of Esther!

                 The 'the week' in this verse is a reference
                 to the annual 7 day period of the Feast of
                 Unleavened Bread.

                 The 'twice' is the first two days of the
                 Feast of Unleavened Bread, the 15th and 16th.


In the Luke 18:12 comment no mention is made of the 14th fast, because
as a Pharisee this person would normally have participated in the
ceremonial temple based Passover meal eaten on the 14th. (The private
home based Passover was observed the prior night.)


The instruction of the book of Esther was never intended to override the
need for the observance of the 14th Passover! However, when the decree
of Haman was issued on the 13th any Jews in the city of Shushan who were
intending to participate in the temple service would have already departed
for Jerusalem.


In respect to the verse,

    Exod  12:15  Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. ... , 

it is now apparent that the verse is not to be understood as a
positive statement to eat unleavened bread each day, but as a
statement to replace any leavened bread which one would otherwise
eat with unleavened bread. 



Why did God instigate the observance of this 3 day fast in the midst
of the Passover season?

The answer to this question becomes apparent when one considers that
in the early morning hours of the 14th Passover Christ was arrested.
He was placed in the tomb that day and remained there on the high day
of the 15th and the weekly Sabbath of the 16th. He rose in the early
morning hours of the 17th. For a more detailed explanation refer to:
CRUCIFIXION / RESURRECTION CHRONOLOGY

The days of the fast of Esther corresponded to the days the New
Testament disciples were vexed over the fate of their Messiah!


THE FEAST OF PURIM

The feast of Purim was instituted as a time of celebration. 


The feast was observed on the 14th and 15th of the 12th month. It was
to be celebrated with feasting and joy. It would be a time for sending
presents and considering the poor.


    Esth   9:21  to establish among them that they should celebrate
                 yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the
                 month of Adar,
            :22  as the days on which the Jews had rest from their
                 enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow
                 to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday;
                 that they should make them days of feasting and joy,
                 of sending presents to one another and gifts to the
                 poor.


Surprisingly the New Testament verse which most closely resembles this
theme is describing the death of the two witnesses.


    Rev   11:10  And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over
                 them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, ...
 

THE BOOK OF ESTHER


Since the book of Esther was written very late in the writing of the Old
Testament it is appropriate to look in the New Testament for confirmation
of its divine authorship and support for its proclaimed festivals. 





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