401. The Feast of Purim

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Pur is a Persian word signifying a part, and thence denoting a lot. With the Hebrew plural termination it becomes purim, “lots.” This is the name by which the feast is known which is kept to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from the plot of Haman. It is called the Feast of Lots because Haman in his superstition resorted to divination for the purpose of ascertaining when he could most effectually destroy the Jews. See Esther 3:77In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar. (Esther 3:7). Some think that the name was given in irony, as denoting the contempt in which the Jews held Haman and his divination.
There is a tradition that the introduction of this feast among the Jews met with some opposition, though it afterward became generally observed. The day before the feast is kept as a solemn fast. On the day of the feast the people assemble in the synagogue, where the book of Esther is read amid clapping of hands and stamping of feet, as demonstrations of contempt for Haman and of joy for the deliverance of the Jews. After leaving the synagogue there are great feasts at home, which have been sometimes carried to such excess that some writers have called the Feast of Purim the Bacchanalia of the Jews.