Sunday, March 16, 2014

Purim 2014

Purim 2014 began in the evening of Saturday, March 15 and ends tonight. So I have a few more minutes to get this done before the holiday expires!

I have written about Purim several times before - in 2010 and 2012, for instance. I recently listened to a wonderful CD that FFOZ distributed called Purim 1946 by Thomas Lancaster. It is excellent; the back of the jacket states:
"There is a tomorrow that is now and a tomorrow that is later! This is a story about the tomorrow of 1946 and the one that is later... The coming of Messiah." 

This caused me to reread my former posts and see that there were a few areas that needed revising. So here is an updated take on Purim.

In the book of Esther, we find the story of Haman, a man who hated the Jews and tried to exterminate them. This hatred arose because Mordecai, a Jew, would not pay homage or bow down to Haman, a high official in the Persian empire. But instead of taking vengeance on Mordecai alone, Haman instead sought to destroy all the Jews throughout the Persian kingdom.
To accomplish this, he persuaded King Ahasuerus of Persia to issue a decree to annihilate all Jews in the Persian provinces, both young and old, women and children. Esther, the wife of King Ahasuerus, was a Jew and the cousin of Mordecai, who had raised her. She told King Ahasuerus that Mordecai, who had earlier protected the king by reporting a plot against him, was her relative. She also told the king that Haman's wicked plan was against her people, and beseeched the king to allow the Jews to defend themselves. King Ahasuerus had Haman hanged on a gallows he had intended for Mordecai, and he permitted the Jews in every city to gather together and protect themselves against those who tried to assault them.
This is background for the ninth chapter of Esther:
ESTHER 9:1 Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king's command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them. 2 The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people. 3 And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and all those doing the king's work, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king's palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent. 5 Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction, and did what they pleased with those who hated them. 6 And in Shushan the citadel the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 7 Also Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vajezatha 10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews they killed; but they did not lay a hand on the plunder. (NKJV)
We see that in addition to the 500 men who attacked them in Shushan, the Jews killed the ten sons of Haman. However, Esther had another request of the king after these 10 sons of Haman had already died.
ESTHER 9:11 On that day the number of those who were killed in Shushan the citadel was brought to the king. 12 And the king said to Queen Esther, "The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the citadel, and the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? Now what is your petition? It shall be granted to you. Or what is your further request? It shall be done." 13 Then Esther said, "If it pleases the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Shushan to do again tomorrow according to today's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on the gallows." 14 So the king commanded this to be done; the decree was issued in Shushan, and they hanged Haman's ten sons. (NKJV)
In memory of this great Jewish victory over their enemies, the Jews have celebrated the feast of Purim annually for over 2,000 years.
Esther's request to have the ten sons of Haman hanged seems rather unusual, seeing that Haman's sons had already been killed. In the writings of the Sages and the commentators, we find several ideas that could clarify this:
On the word "tomorrow", in Esther's request, the Sages comment:
"There is a tomorrow that is now, and a tomorrow which is later."
In other words, Esther was asking that the hanging of Haman's ten sons not remain an isolated episode in history, but should recur in the future, as well. Yet, if this is the case, surely King Ahasuerus was in no position to accede to such a request. Only Governors could make and keep such a promise.
An examination of the sources solves this problem, too. According to the Sages, every time King Ahasuerus is mentioned by name in the Book of Esther, the reference is to him; when the word [hey-mem-lamed-kaph] - the King, appears on its own, it refers to God.
Esther was therefore not addressing her request to Ahasuerus, but to God - who granted her request:
"And the King commanded it be done." (Esther 9:14)
If this request was for the future as well as for that time, has this prophecy of Esther been fulfilled? Does history record 10 additional "sons of Haman" who were hanged after trying to exterminate the Jewish people?
During World War II, the Nazis in Germany tried to wipe the Jewish race from the face of the earth. Six million Jews were killed by the Germans. After the end of the war, the surviving Nazi leaders were tried at Nuremburg for this and other war crimes. These trials began on November 20, 1945, for 22 German Nazi leaders.
On October 1, 1946, 12 of the German defendants were sentenced to death by hanging for their part in the atrocities committed against the Jews and others. One of those convicted was Martin Bormann, who was sentenced in absentia. A second was Hermann Goering, who committed suicide in his cell just hours before the executions by taking cyanide poison. The remaining 10 Germans were hanged to death on October 16, 1946.
One of the most notorious of these was Julius Streicher who was in charge of propaganda for Hitler. Streicher appears to have grasped this link to Purim, as revealed by his final shout, with the noose about his neck, mere seconds before he was hanged.
. . . With burning hatred in his eyes, Streicher looked down at the witnesses and shouted: "Purim Fest 1946!" (Computorah, pp. 104-106)
These hangings took place on October 16, 1946. On the Jewish calendar, October 16, 1946, corresponded to 21 Tishri, 5707. This date was the seventh day of the Jewish feast of Sukkot, the day called Hoshana Rabba. The Jews believe that this day represents the coming time when God's verdicts of judgment will be sealed.
In the very passage of Scripture where Esther's prophetic request is recorded, we can find the future execution date of these descendants of Haman, both in the surface text and encoded within it (the ELS for this is not mentioned here). Jewish sages have long believed and taught that every variation of the surface text, whether it be the size of the letters themselves or a variant spelling of a word, has specific meaning. In some cases, that meaning remains a mystery. But in the case of Esther's prophecy regarding the hanging of Haman's ten sons, history has finally unveiled what was plainly there to see for 2,300 years.
In the scroll of Esther 9:7-9, we find a list of the ten sons of Haman who were killed by the Jews. Below is the Hebrew text of these verses as it appears in the Tanakh. Remember, Hebrew reads from right to left. The word that is repeated on the left (V’ET) means and.

As you can see, the names appear one above the other in the text. About this strange formatting, the Soncino Commentary states:
7-9. The Massorah prescribes that the names of the ten sons of Haman be written in a perpendicular column on the right-hand side of the page, with the vav, i.e., and, on the left-hand side. This is probably derived from the tradition that the ten sons were hanged on a tall gallows, one above the other. . . . (The Five Megilloth, p. 179)
As you can see by looking at the list of names above, three letters (the tav in the first name, the shin and tav in the seventh name), appear smaller than the other letter, while the zayin in the tenth name is larger than the others.
The Jewish calendar year is represented by Hebrew letters. The small letters in the names of Haman's ten sons are: "tav" "shin" "zain." The large letter is "vav." These letters represent the year 707 ("tav shin zain" equal 707) of the sixth millennium (represented by the large "vav" which equals 6). Thus you have the Jewish date 5707, or 1946 by the civil calendar.
This prophecy in the scroll’s letters provides positive proof that the Bible is the Word of God and I would also say that it gives confirmation to the eternal importance of the    Jewish people and of the festivals and holidays they were given by God.
ISAIAH 46:9 . . . For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (NKJV)

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