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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Pu´rim (; , sq.), a celebrated Jewish festival instituted by Mordecai, at the suggestion of Esther, in the reign of Ahasuerus, king of Persia, to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from the designs of Haman [ESTHER; HAMAN; MORDECAI]. It derived its name from the lots cast every day for twelve months in presence of Haman, with the view of discovering an auspicious day for the destruction of all the Jews in the Persian dominions; when the lot fell on the 13th day of Adar (February and part of March) [FESTIVALS].

The particulars of the mode in which the Jews observe this festival will be found detailed by Buxtorf. We shall select a few of the most striking. The book of Esther is read from beginning to end; and even the reading of the law is on this day postponed to it. It may be also read in any language which the reader understands. When Mordecai's name occurs, the whole congregation exclaim, Blessed be Mordecai! and, on mention of that of Haman, they say, May his name perish! and it is usual for the children to hiss, spring rattles, strike the walls with hammers, and make all sorts of noises. These noisy portions of the ceremony have, however, been long discontinued in England, except in the synagogues of some foreign Jews. The remainder of the day is spent in festivity, in commemoration of Esther's feast: upon which occasion the Jews send presents to each other, the men to the men, and the women to the women. They also bestow alms on the poor, from the benefit of which Christians and other Gentiles are not excluded. Plays and masquerades follow; nor is it considered a breach of the law of Moses on this occasion, for men and women to assume the garb of the other sex. Purim is the last festival in the Jewish ecclesiastical year, being succeeded by the next Passover.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Purim'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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