Purim: which means to cast lots, is a festival that is celebrated on the 14th day in the Month of Adar, in this year’s case it is celebrated in Adar II, one month prior to Passover.  It is to canonize Esther and her roll in saving the Jewish people from annihilation. Three days prior to the festival is the Ta’anit Esther, the fast of Esther, commemorating the 3 days the Jewish people fasted in the story of Purim.

The story of Purim is when Haman, a descendant of Amelak (the name of the man we are trying to blot out) casts lots to determine the day when he is going to terminate the very existence of every Jew.  But as luck would have it (or something else), the plot was reversed and it was Haman that was terminated.

The story is this.  The queen, Vashti who is the very proud granddaughter of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, is ordered by King Achashverosh, who is really drunk at the time, to parade around her beauty at this feast the King is having. She refuses and the King’s vizer, an arabic term meaning court advisor, tells the King that he should have her killed and replaced, to send the message that no one shall disobey the King, not even the Queen.  Vashti is thus killed and replaced by our very own Esther, whose Jewish identity is kept a secret from the King.  Esther with her beauty and gentleness won favor with the King.  She eventually becomes the Queen.

Every day her Uncle Mordechai goes to the castle gate and checks on Esther.  During one of these visits, Mordechai over hears a plot to have the King assassinated by two courtiers Bigthan and Teresh.  He tells Esther and the two men are caught and killed.  It is recorded in the Royal Book that Mordechai the Jew was the one that saved the King, but then it was forgotten.  Now Haman grows tired of Mordechai hanging around the gates and confronts him.  Mordechai, upon seeing Haman (and supposedly the medallion he was wearing depicting an idol), does not bow and refuses to do so even after Haman demands that he bend his knees before the King’s vizer.  This makes Haman furious and he goes to the King to speak of the vile Jew that refuses to bow before the King’s royal vizer.  He tells the King that there is one nation that is different than all others.  They refuse to eat, drink the same as we and they refuse to marry our daughters.  They also refuse to obey the King’s law and do not work on the seventh day.  They also refuse to bow to the King and the royal appointed subjects and that nation is the Jews.  He advises the King that this nation should be taught a lesson and that he would pay for it out of his own money. The King allows for Haman to do with the Jews as he wishes.  Haman casts lots to choose a date to slaughter all the Jews.  He sends out letters to all 127 provinces stating that on the 13th of Adar, that one day, they may kill all the Jews, women and children as well as the men, that reside within their provinces.  All the money and property that had belonged to the Jews will be yours. These letters are sealed with the King’s royal signet (ring).

Mordechai finds out about Haman’s plot to destroy the very existance of the Jews and goes to Queen Esther.  He tells her that she must go before the King and save her people.  She declines Mordechai’s request, for to go before the King without being summoned is against the law and she would be killed. Mordechai tells the queen that her people will be saved with or without her, and that her fate is sealed.  She fasts and prays for three days, and had Mordechai organize a three day fast and prayer for all the Jews on her behalf. On the third day of the fast she goes before the King dressed in her most royal garb, unsummoned, and is welcomed by the King.  He asks her why she has come to him.  She tells him that she only wishes to ask the King and the King’s Vizer to a banquet in their honor. After the meal, she invites the two men back for another feast the next night.  In the meantime, Haman had gallows built in which Mordechai is to be hanged.  While Haman is building his gallows the King is suffering from insomnia and has the court records read to him. It is only now the King learns of Mordechai’s great deed, and is told that Mordechai did not receive any acknowledgement for this.  Right after that Haman walks in.  The King ask Haman what should be done for a man that has just saved the Kings life.  Haman, thinking it is him that will be honored, says that the man should be dressed in a robe the King himself has worn and be paraded about the kingdom on the King’s royal horse.  And to Haman’s surprise, or horror, that man is Mordechai, and Haman is ordered to do this for Mordechai the next day.

At the second feast, Esther reveals her true identity to the King and tells him of Haman’s plan to destroy her and her people.  The King orders Haman to be hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordechai and since the previous decree by Haman can not be undone, the King allows Esther and Mordechai to write a decree for themselves.  They write one that allows the Jews to defend themselves against any and all attacks on them.  So, on the 13th of Adar, five hundred attackers and Haman’s 10 sons are killed in Shushan.  On the 14th of Adar, another 300 are killed in Shushan.  After this, Mordechai is appointed to the position of the Kings Vizer, the second highest ranked person in the Kingdom.