The Feast of Purim is celebrated by the Jewish people annually in remembrance of Esther. This year it falls on March 11-12.
The Book of Esther is the last of the historical books written in the Old Testament. The book was likely written about 400 B.C. The author is unknown - but it is evident from the details within the text that he was well acquainted with Persian court life. The author might have been a young protege of Mordecai.
The name of this feast, Purim, is from the Persian word for lot: pur which refers to how Haman cast lot to decide on the date of the mass execution as referred to in Esther 3.
Esther was a Jewish orphan maiden in the city of Shushan. Esther's Hebrew name was Hadassah, which means "Myrtle". She and her cousin Mordecai were Jews who were carried captive from Jerusalem, and were now living in Persia under the rule of King Ahasuerus. Mordecai was her cousin and raised her as his own daughter. He was a minor official in the King's palace.
Through a series of events which included the King divorcing his wife Queen Vashti, a search was conducted to replace her. All the beautiful young maidens were summoned to the palace and presented to King Ahasuerus. Whomever he was pleased with would become the new queen.
When the King's chief minister Haman learned that Mordecai would not pay homage to him as was the custom, he convinced King Ahasuerus to issue a decree that would destroy all the Jewish people. Once consent was obtained the decree was written and publicized throughout the empire and a date was set through the casting of lots (pur). Mordecai then sent word to Esther that she must plead for mercy on behalf of her kindred before the all powerful King.
Like many Hebrew children, Esther (Hadassah) was left an orphan following the forced exodus from Jerusalem some 400 years before Christ. She and her cousin Mordecai were in Shushan when Queen Vashti was banished from the palace at Susa. The circumstances surrounding the collection and grooming of young virgins for the King's selection was beyond her control. Her submission to the process and favor with the custodian of the women were God ordained. Esther underwent months of beauty preparations and instruction prior to her required visit to the King's palace. She would not go in to the King again until she was personally requested by name. Her fate was not in her own hands.
When the turn came for her to go in to the King, she relied solely on the counsel of Hegai the King's eunuch, as he had favored her above all the others. With his advice she entered with nothing more than herself. The King was smitten and loved her more than all the others. She obtained grace and favor as she captured his heart. During this time she concealed her background and did not reveal her kindred and her people to the King as Mordecai had charged her. Her cousin had informed her of a plot to kill the King, and after hanging the offenders, the incident was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the King.
When Mordecai learned of the plot to destroy God's people through the wicked plans of Haman, he lamented and put on sackcloth and ashes, and cried out bitterly in the midst of the city. When Esther's maids and eunuchs told her about Mordecai she was devastated. Her attendant approached Mordecai, who in turn gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction. The Queen had a plan... but it relied solely on the King's grace. She must risk death in order to approach the King to ask for mercy on behalf of her people.
Courage is something that comes from within. Mordecai plainly told her that she could either rise to the occasion or let someone else approach the King and forgo her destiny. Her wise plan was to have the Jews in the city fast for her for 3 days and nights in preparation for her visit to King Ahasuerus. Without being summoned - she risked death if he did not extend his scepter to her.
After she slipped into her royal robes, she cautiously approached the King's house and stood in the courtyard until he saw her and motioned for her to come close. As she found favor in his sight, she touched the tip of his scepter and he inquired what she would ask of him - up to half of his kingdom. She delayed her true request by asking for Haman to join the King and herself in a banquet to honor them. This was repeated again by divine design.
In the meantime Haman plodded ahead to build gallows from which to hang Mordecai whom he loathed. As Haman's pride rose - so did his eventual demise. Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18).
By allowing God to move in the background, and through a restless night in which the King read of the incident in which his life was spared by Mordecai's deeds, Haman was indicted and found guilty of pandering to the Queen in a dishonorable and inappropriate way. The King's wrath demanded he be hung from the very gallows he built for Mordecai, and the decree for the Jews destruction was counter signed and enacted. The Jews eventually rose up under Esther & Mordecai's direction and defeated those who had relished in their downfall and ruin.
The Book of Esther reveals how God can promote someone who is venerable and innocent to a position of honor and authority. Much like Joseph's life - Esther was used by God to preserve His people from Satan's evil plans for the destruction of the Jewish nation.
God can take your circumstances and orchestrate an ending that is just as dramatic and life-saving as He did for Esther... He is no respecter of persons and He will use your life's scenario to bless you and bring glory to Himself.