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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Purim

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PURIM.—A feast of the Jews occurring on the 14th and 15th of the month Adar, one month before the Passover. It had only the slightest religious character, and was devoted to feasting and holiday.

The Book of Esther purports to give the origin of Purim in the feast kept by the Jews when the afflictions that threatened them through Haman were turned into joy and blessing. This explanation is now generally regarded as fanciful, in part because of the antecedent improbability of the narrative in Esther and the lack of historical evidence for its truthfulness, and in part because of the impossibility of verifying in Persian the meaning of the word purim (= ‘lot’), upon which the connexion rests.

Several different theories have been held of its origin. (1) The outgrowth of the Nicanor festival kept on the 13th of Adar, to celebrate the victory over that general in b.c. 161. (2) Derived from a New Year’s festival of Parthian origin. (3) A Persian spring festival. (4) Connected with the Persian Fûrdigân, festival of the dead. (5) The Greek Pithoigia, corresponding to the Roman Vinalia. (6) Others most recently (Zimmern, Jensen, Meissner, Wildeboer) derive it from a Babylonian New Year’s festival, and make Mordecai the same as Marduk, and Esther = the goddess Ishtar.

The feast is not mentioned by name in the NT, but is by some supposed to be the ‘feast of the Jews’ of John 5:1. If so, this Gospel mentions three Passovers during the ministry of Jesus (John 2:13, John 6:4, John 12:1), and His ministry thus extends, according to Jn., over two and a half years. On the other hand, if the alternative view is held, that John 5:1 is a Passover feast, there are four mentioned, and the ministry, according to Jn., extends over three and a half years. Before either figure can be assumed as giving the correct chronology of the life of Christ, the accounts in the Fourth Gospel must be subjected to criticism in connexion with those of the Synoptics. See artt. Dates, Feasts, Ministry.

O. H. Gates.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Purim'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/p/purim.html. 1906-1918.

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