If nothing else, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a flair for the dramatic. Nothing drives the story of Purim home like an existential conflict with Iran. So with the current political/diplomatic crisis in mind, let’s take a deeper look at the Purim story in historical context and see how it resembles and how it differs from the current stand-off of the Jews vs. Iran, a.k.a. Persia.
Megillath Esther tells the story of a close call for the Jews, when a great threat, posed by the evil minister Haman, was thwarted by the beautiful Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai. The Purim story describes what would become a template for future cycles of anti-Jewish hatred. In the first part of the cycle, a nation or an empire experiences a loss of power and prestige and turns to the Jews as a source of blame. The elimination of the Jews and the acquisition of their wealth becomes the solution to the problems at hand.
The following podcast of historian Dr. David Neiman gives a dramatic account of the battles of Salamis and Thermopylae. It is at these battles that the Persian empire was defeated by the up-and-coming Greeks. This loss created a fertile environment for the events that would later occur in Megillath Esther.
(Purim pictures by Rachel Neiman)