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REJOICINGS OF THE JEWS.

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took any spoil, or that they injured any one that did not first attack them. By abstaining from the spoil, they showed that they did not act from malice, or for the purpose of enriching themselves. They were neither selfish nor revengeful. They were ready to mix mercy with judgment, and were disposed to show that they could be more generous than their enemies would have been to them. The spoil, therefore, they touched not, either leaving it for the king's treasury, or for the children of those slain. Their motto was not that the spoils belong to the victors. Nor were they wanting in loyalty. They were faithful subjecis.

The effects of the counter-decree in Shushan, were just such as we should have expected, when we remember how sad the royal city was at the promulgation of the murderous one of Haman. If they were grieved at that, they would rejoice at this; the calm came after the storm. Joy, peace, and security, were the fruits of their wonderful deliverance. The dark cloud that had so long hung over them, was at last dispelled, and sunshine again beaming upon them. And the Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honor! In the Bible light is often synonymous with gladness, because light is pleasant to the eyes; and it is also common to add terms explanatory of former ones, to add emphasis to the sentence. Gladness and joy here, are intended to explain what is meant by light, and the honor is put in contrast to the contempt heretofore felt for the Jews.

And throughout the empire the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews, for the fear of the Jews fell upon

them. It is characteristic of the nations of the East to this day! just as it is with the savage tribes of our own continent, to join themselves in alliance with the stronger party, or the winning side. Many of the peo

. ple became Jews, that is, renounced their idolatry, were circumcised, and became worshippers of the true God. For the fear of the Jews fell upon them. The fate of Haman was before their eyes. They were quite convinced that no one could stand against the seed of the Jews, for whose benefit such stupendous miracles had been wrought in former times. Fear and self-preservation, as well as a regard for religion, conspired to make many proselytes. Such converts, however, were not likely to do much honor to the true religion, but the historian is faithful to record the fact. And it is still a proof of the weakness of human nature, that many are willing to join themselves to a congregation, or become professors of religion when it is fashionable so to do, or when the church seems to be prosperous, who are not to be found among her friends in the days of adversity. But our Lord's teaching on this subject is remarkably plain and emphatic. " Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, mine will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, mine will I also deny before

my Father which is in heaven. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Math. x: 32, 39.

CHAPTER XX.

THE LIVING MONUMENT.

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" My fame extends from West to East,
And always at the Purim feast,
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The wine it so elateth me,
That I no difference can see
Between "Accursed Haman be!'

And Blessed be Mordecai !'”

Longfellow.

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ANOTHER result of the Jews' victory over their enemies, and of the great favor in which the queen and Mordecai are held by the great king Ahasuerus, is that no man durst lay his hand upon a Jew, nor even frown upon him. They who had been considered as wretched captives are not only safe, but are made lords in the land. It is, then, natural they should have a national festival in commemoration of their deliverance. ACcordingly, we find the feast of Purim instituted at that time, and observed, from that day to this, by their posterity, in every part of the globe.

« On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore, the Jews

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of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feastings, and a good day, and of rendering portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. Wherefore, they called the days PURIM, after the name Pur. Therefore, for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, the Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year. And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed. Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority to confirm this second letter of Purim. And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth. To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the

queen

had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry. And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.”

The unwalled towns (verse 19) are so specified to distinguish them from Shushan, and the great cities of the land—The lesser villages, as is intimated in the Hebrew. From the expression in the twentieth

THE PURIM ORDAINED.

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verse, that “Mordecai wrote these things,” it has been said by some that we are to infer that the Book of Esther, up to this verse, was written by him, and that the remaining part of the book was written by some one else, Ezra, or the men of the Great Synagogue. All that is known, or, at least, considered as worthy of any reliance about the author of this book, has been already given in the third chapter of this work; and it seems to me very plain, that the meaning here is, that Mordecai wrote the book, and the king's decree, also, in favor of the Jews, and the letters to the Jews, ordaining and instructing them how to keep the feast of Purim. These interpretations are not contradictory; and that this is the meaning, is rendered more plain from the last verse of the ninth chapter, where the decree of Esther, concerning these matters of Purim, is said to have been written in the book ; that is, among the statutes and observances of the Jews, who were to keep this feast, and their seed after them,

The decree confirming these matters was, no doubt, also recorded in the Chronicles of the Empire, and it is not impossible, but it may yet be dug up from among the ruins of Shuster. A national festival was to be established, and its observance to be perpetual, which is according to history to this hour.

Let us then consider a little the institution, history and observance of this feast of Purim. And to do this, we have to go back to the third chapter and seventh verse, where we get the name for the first time. “In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the Lot, before Ilaman from day to day.”

for ever.

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