by Luke Hilton
Purim was celebrated in Israel this week. A Jewish boy was critically injured by a rock thrown by Arabs. There are connections between history and the story of Purim. Iran’s leaders have been hit by Coronavirus, and the country has been swarmed by locusts.
Israel just finished celebrating the holiday of Purim, which is when the book of Esther is read and the miraculous deliverance from Haman’s evil decree is commemorated. The holiday is very festive, with the entire country dressing up in costumes, boisterous readings of the scroll of Esther are held in the synagogues, and there is much music, dancing, and joy.
In the story of Esther, a wicked descendent of the Amalekites named Haman came up with a sinister plan to kill all of the Jews in Persia without the knowledge of King Ahasuerus. Also unbeknownst to the king and Haman, his new queen Esther was a Jew with the real name of Hadassah. In a heroic story that would rival any Hollywood film, Esther fasted food and water for three days, and then went before the king even though she was risking death, and denounced Haman as the villain who would kill her and her people. The Jewish people were saved by Esther’s heroism, and several thousand years later, Jewish people all over the world continue to celebrate this story every year.
For one young man this year however, the joy of Purim turned tragic when he was attacked along with his friends. A fourteen-year-old Jewish boy from Samaria stopped at an intersection close to an Arab village at a juncture close to the towns of Yitzhar, Itamar and Har Bracha. The boy and his friends stopped at the intersection and began dancing to Purim music. Within a short time, another car drove up, and several Arabs began attacking the Jews and cursing at them. When they tried to get in their car to leave the scene, several more Arab cars tried to block them in. Before they could get away, one of the Arabs threw a large block through the car window, striking the fourteen-year-old boy in the head. The boy is still in critical condition.
Indeed, the evil spirit of Haman and Amalek seems to be alive and well, even inside the Jewish national homeland.
During Purim in 1953, Joseph Stalin was on the verge of enacting a plan nearly as evil as Adolf Hitler – to round up 3 million Jews and deport them to prison camps in Siberia, Kazakhstan, and the Arctic North. His goal was to eliminate them. He had already started deporting Jews to prison camps and was set to begin his plan on a massive scale when he suddenly collapsed after becoming enraged when some of his supporters voiced opposition. The day? Purim, 1953. Stalin died a few short days later.
In modern day Persia, also known as Iran, the Coronavirus is taking its toll with some 9,000 cases confirmed, and the death toll is close to 400. Some, however, think that Iran’s government is hiding their true numbers of those who are affected by the virus, and that the true statistics may be much higher. One of Iran’s foreign policy advisors has already died from the virus, as well as six other government officials and politicians. Several more officials are sick with the virus, including Iran’s vice-president.
Iran has also been hit by swarms of locusts recently, being so dense in some areas, that after spraying them, the layers of dead locusts lay some 10-15 centimeters deep on the ground. The swarms are too large to handle with biological methods, and the Jerusalem Post recently reported that Iran may be forced to spray up to 1 million hectares (more than 400,000 acres) of agricultural lands.
This is not a gloom and doom article, nor am I attempting to make a prediction. However, Iran is located in modern day Persia, the same place where Haman tried to eradicate the Jews thousands of years ago. Modern day Iran has lived up to their evil predecessor for years, repeatedly calling to destroy Israel, wiping them off the map, and threatening Israel and the western world with murder and annihilation.
At a time when we remember God’s miraculous salvation of His people, let’s remember that the same rules apply today. Bottom line – don’t mess with God’s people. It didn’t work for Haman, Joseph Stalin or even Arab terrorists who tried to murder a Jewish boy in Samaria. And it appears to not be working for Iranian officials who have called for the death and destruction of the Jews either.
At the conclusion of the book of Esther, we read that many Persians became Jews when the tables were turned. Instead of them killing and plundering their Jewish neighbors, King Ahasuerus authorized the Jews to defend themselves and kill those who attacked them.
In true Purim spirit, let’s align with the God of the Jews and with His plan of salvation for the entire world, for such a time as this.