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The Story of Esther from Purim to Now

Tricia Miller, Ph. D.

Dear Leaders and Friends,

The biblical holiday of Purim, instituted in the book of Esther, begins tonight!

As Esther 9:22 says, this holiday is one of feasting and joy in  celebration of Esther's victory over those who sought to annihilate the  Jews of the ancient Persian Empire. Because the intended genocide was  defeated, the Jews of Persia went from sorrow to joy, from mourning to a  holiday. To this day, Purim is celebrated in every generation and the  commemoration of Purim has not ceased among the Jewish people (Esther  9:28).

Had the plot to kill "all Jews, young and old, women and children, in  one day" (Esther 3:13) throughout the Persian Empire been successful,  the Jewish people would not have survived. This is because the Persian  Empire included the whole known world at the time, including the land of  Israel. Think about the consequences of that in terms of the past 2500  years of Jewish history and the past 2000 years of Christian history.  None of it would have happened!

Thankfully, the king of Persia allowed the Jews to defend themselves  against those who came to kill them (Esther 8:11) and the Jews were  victorious. However, we know from history that this attempt to wipe out  the Jews was far from the last. In fact, in literally every generation  since Esther’s time, the Jewish people have experienced various degrees  of persecution – most often involving deadly force.

This historical reality is what has made Esther and its account of  victory over attempted genocide so meaningful to the Jewish people  generation after generation. And it is what makes it so particularly  relevant to current events. Since its founding, the State of Israel has  had to defend itself repeatedly against existential danger. The threat  to the survival of the Jewish State is even more clear since the  horrific attack by Hamas on October 7th.

Hamas’ invasion of Israel and the war Israel is now fighting with that  terrorist organization is a vivid example of the significance of the  story of Esther. Hamas targeted women, children and elderly for  extinction, just as the enemies of the Jews did in ancient Persia. And  just as the Jews of Esther's time did, Israel is fighting back.

Indeed, the story of Esther demonstrates the importance of the right to  self-defense when threatened with murder. The right of humans to defend  themselves against those who intend to murder, and the responsibility of  governments to protect their people, is a timeless and universal issue  of justice.  

In other words, the right of, and responsibility for, self-defense was  not just relevant for Esther’s time. It is applicable right here, right  now in the context of Israel's war with Hamas. Remember, Israel did not  start this war with Hamas! Hamas started it when it invaded Israel,  committed horrific atrocities – raping, mutilating, and burning alive  Israeli men, women, children and elderly – and took hundreds hostage to  Gaza.

Therefore, Israel's current actions in Gaza are justifiably defensive  and necessary in order to achieve the stated purposes of 1) destroying  Hamas' ability to ever again be able to do anything like it did on  October 7th and 2) rescuing hostages still held in unimaginable  conditions, enduring abuse and deprivation.

In spite of the horror that happened on October 7th and the ongoing  torture of children, women and men still captive in Gaza, world opinion  has turned against Israel. The Jewish State is falsely and irrationally  demonized and delegitimized for its efforts to defeat a terrorist  organization that vows to repeat what it did on October 7th until it has  destroyed all the Jews.

Once again, just as in the time of Esther, the survival of the Jewish  people is at stake. And while much of the world - particularly those in  academia, government and media - seem to have forgotten what happened on  October 7th and choose to ignore Hamas' genocidal intent, WE MUST NOT  FORGET!

We must not forget AND we must stand united as Christians and Jews in  support of Israel's right to defend itself against enemies whose reason  for existence is to annihilate the Jewish people!

Chag Purim Sameach! Happy Purim!
Am Yisrael Chai! The people of Israel live!

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