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Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates an argued saving of the Jewish people from being killed during the time of the ancient Persian Empire. The Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible describes the claimed saving. The story includes characters such as Esther, Haman, and Mordecai, see the "Encyclopedias" section regarding various descriptions.


The Book of Esther has been described as a romantic and patriotic tale, with so little religious purpose that God is not even mentioned in it. There is considerable evidence that the story originates from older non-Jewish stories. The story may have been included in the Hebrew Bible for the sake of sanctioning Purim, originally a controversial festival, opposed by some Jewish authorities. "Despite its lack of specific religious content, the story has become in popular Jewish understanding a magnificent message that the providence of God will preserve his people from annihilation."[1]

The story also includes a royal decree allowing Jews to join together and kill alleged enemies, with 75,000 being killed.

Critics have argued that the Purim commemoration includes various aspects which create hatred against perceived enemies of Jews and to have contributed to events such as Baruch Goldstein's massacre. Iran is argued to be seen by some Jews as a modern day Persia which has been argued to increase the risk of war. See the "External links" section.

See also

  • Amalek - Controversial topic related to Purim and the Book of Esther.
  • Passover

External links