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What Happened During Purim? Some Context

When the Cyrus Edict allowed Jews to return to Israel, the majority decided to remain in Persia. The exile of the Jewish people from their homeland was preceded by a stormy chapter with the people of Israel receiving strong and urgent warnings from the prophet Jeremiah. They even through him in a pit to quiet his uncomfortable warnings. Check out the pit HERE! Their inability to heed these calls led to the subsequent destruction and exile by the Babylonians.

Al-Yahudu Archive - David Sofer collection - Photo: Ardon Barhama

Afterwards a new world power arose, Persia. The Jews started to make a life for themselves in Persia, we even have archives of their daily shopping slips and other daily life errands etched into clay, called the Al-Yahudu Archives. See the ancient "slips" in the form of cuneiform HERE

So back to only a handful of Jews returning to Israel and trying to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. Politics ensue, with mayhem and almost murder. The main guys leading the Return and Rebuild Project is Ezra and Nehemiah.

At this time Jews were both living in Israel and Persia. So while Nehemiah tries to rebuild Jerusalem amidst international pressure, trouble stirs in Persia. Almost like today, right?

Enters Esther. And Mordechai. And the evil Haman. We know the story of Esther in the Bible already, with epic plot twists and the evil Amalekite Haman with his desire to completely annihilate the Jews, ultimately hanging from his own gallows.

What most people don't know is the historical context that surrounds this narrative. What happened in parallel in Israel. Persia's influence regarding the return and rebuilding of the Temple.

Context always brings more insights, but also enhances and sometimes even changes the way we view facts on the ground.

Take your Purim experience to a different level by filling in those "context" gaps.

Learn about:

The Babylonian Exile, Jewish life in Babylon, the prophet Ezekiel at the Chebar River, and the Cyrus Edict here

The Story of Esther, the rebuilding of Jerusalem (story of Nehemiah), politics that interfered with the work in Jerusalem, and the oldest ancient extra-Biblical reference to Pesach her

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