From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Book of Esther: The whole Megillah

Megillat Esther (Photo by Chefallen) 
According to Merriam Webster, the current slang definition of megillah is as follows:  "a long involved story or account."

Certainly, the Book of Esther can be viewed through that lens.  Also called the Megillah (meaning "scroll" in Hebrew), this "action-packed" account leaves little to the imagination (except perhaps G-d, being the only book in the Bible besides – some say - the Song of Songs of Solomon  that does not explicitly mention G-d).

Part of the Ketuvim ("writings") section of the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Esther "tells the story of a Jewish girl named Esther who became queen of Persia and thwarted a plan to commit genocide against her people."  Wikipedia also explains that this book "is the basis and an
integral part of the Jewish celebration of Purim."  It is not only read aloud during that holiday (which occurs on the 14th  or 15th day of Adar or Adar II), but is also often theatrically enacted in spoofs that have come to be known as Purim spiels.

Because the presence of G-d was allegedly "disguised" within the Book of Esther's story - and because there is a belief that G-d "has remained concealed (yet ever-present) in Jewish history since the times of the destruction of the first Temple" - and because of the Roman carnival's possible influence - a masquerading tradition of costumes and masks has become very much a part of Purim celebrations.

Wikipedia furthermore mentions that the Book of Esther marks the first use in the Bible of the Hebrew word for "Jew" - "thus denoting a distinction between the Hebrews, the Israelites, and their Jewish descendants within the diaspora."


Copyright February 24, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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