The Purim StoryThe Purim story is a wonderful tale. It talks about a powerful king, a beautiful and courageous heroine, a loyal uncle and a scoundrel who fell for his own wicked plans.
The King of Persia, Ahashverosh (also spelled as Ahashuerus and Ahasuerus), decided to celebrate and have a feast in the third year of his reign. During the seventh day of the festivities, the king got thoroughly drunk and summoned his queen, Vashti, to show her beauty before him and before the officials and princes who were present during the feast. Vashti refused to follow the order, which incensed the king. The king then removed Vashti from her thrown as his queen.
After the incident, Ahashverosh decided to have a new queen to replace Vashti. He set an order that all young women are to be presented to him so he could choose his new queen. One of the beautiful young women who appeared in the said event was Esther. Her real name was Haddassah. She had changed her name to Esther so that the king would not know that she was Jewish. She was an orphan who had lost her parents at a young age. She was then fostered by her uncle named Mordechai. Esther's beauty found favor in the eyes of the king and she was chosen to be the new queen. Esther did not reveal her true identity as a Jewish.
Mordechai Learns of a Plot Against the King
Shortly after Esther became the queen, Mordechai, her uncle, learned a plot that two of the king's courtiers, Bigthan and Teresh, planned to kill the king. He alarmed the king's soldiers and both courtiers were apprehended and hanged. Mordechai's services were then noted in the king's court records.
Ahashverosh appointed Haman as his prime minister. Haman was said to be an Agagite, which meant that he was a descendant of the Amalekites, the traditional enemies of the Jews. Haman was known for his wickedness and expected everybody to bow down before him.
Mordechai Refuses to Bow to Haman
One day, Mordechai was sitting at the palace gates. He refused to bow down before Haman when he passed by. As a Jew, Mordechai had a belief that they were only to bow down before their God. Because of refusing to bow before him, Haman got mad and came to know that Mordechai was a Jew. When Haman found out that Mordechai was Jewish, he planned to kill him along with the entire Jewish people in the empire.
Haman used his power to carry out his plans. With these things in mind, he asked for the king's permission to execute what he had planned. He even offered a payment of ten thousand talents of silver. He cast lots or Purim to choose the perfect date for the annihilation, which came out to be the thirteenth of the month of Adar.
Esther Makes a Demand of the King
Upon knowing Haman's evil plans, Mordechai ordered penitence and fasting to his fellow Jews. When Esther learned about what had transpired, she requested all the Jews to go on fasting and pray for three days. On the third day, Esther risked her life by appearing before the King without being summoned and invited him to the feast. She invited Haman as well. During the said event, she invited them to another feast that was to be held the next evening. And on the same night, Mordechai offended Haman for the second time around. Because of this, Haman built a gallows for Mordechai.
During that same night, Ahashverosh suffered from insomnia and had a hard time falling asleep. He had someone read his court records to him. It was then that he found out about Mordechai's previous rendered services in saving his life. He was also told that Mordechai had not received anything or even a simple recognition for saving his life. Haman came and Ahashverosh told him about the story. Haman didn't know that the man that the king was referring to was Mordechai. Ahashverosh then asked for his suggestions as what should be done in order to honor the great deeds of the man who saved his life. Haman, in this wishful mind, thought that the king was referring to him. So he told the king that this particular man should be given the honor to wear the king's royal robes and use the king's royal horse. Waiting and hoping, Haman was disappointed and surprised because the king instructed him to do exactly as he said, but to Mordechai.
Haman at the Feast
The following evening, Ahashverosh and Haman went to a feast as Esther had invited them. It was during this time that Esther revealed that she was Jewish. She also revealed that Haman had been planning to kill her people, and that would include her, being a Jewish herself. Upon hearing Haman's evil plans, Ahashverosh ordered his soldiers to hang Haman in the gallows that he had made for Mordechai. He became the victim of his own wicked plot. Mordechai then assumed Haman's prominent position in the King's court
Since the previous decree against the Jews could not be annulled, the king allowed Esther and Mordechai to make another decree as they preferred. They wrote a decree which allowed Jewish people to defend themselves in times of attacks.
Haman's descendants fought for his death and continued the battle that he started. As a result of the new decree made by Esther and Mordechai, Haman's ten sons together with five hundred attackers were killed in Shushan on the thirteenth of the month of Adar. An additional of 75,000 people were slain throughout the empire. On the fourteenth month, another 300 people were killed in Shushan.
The Celebration of Purim
From then on, every 14th of the month of Adar the Jewish people would celebrate Purim as a memory of their commemoration from annihilation by enjoying a Purim Feast, sending gifts and foods to friends and by reading the Megillah (the story of Purim).