This is the video of my message from the recent Purim 2021 conference. May it encourage you as we transition into the first Hebrew month, Aviv/Nisan this weekend.
The written message in written format can be found here.
This is the video of my message from the recent Purim 2021 conference. May it encourage you as we transition into the first Hebrew month, Aviv/Nisan this weekend.
The written message in written format can be found here.
Dear readers, this is a written form of my Purim message from this morning’s conference 5781 (2021).
Isaiah 45:3, 6-7 (TLV) I will give you treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, so you may know that I am Adonai, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name… 6 so they may know, from the rising to the setting of the sun, that there is no one besides Me. I am Adonai—there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness. I make shalom and create calamity. I, Adonai, do all these things.
At first glance, it might seem odd to consider that darkness reveals anything. Typically, we associate darkness with covering, hiddenness, chaos, confusion, sin, judgment, evil, or even death. Most of the Biblical references to darkness agree with those associations. However, like light, darkness is a contranym. While light is most often a symbol of the Word, Spirit, commandments, goodness, wisdom, and Messiah, there is also a false light. The enemy masquerades as a messenger of light. There is a light that is, in reality, darkness. (Luke 11:35)
Just as light doesn’t always equate to something good, darkness doesn’t always equate to evil. Light can blind instead of expose, and darkness can reveal things that light conceals. While the opposite is what one witnesses most often, it is important to know how darkness can be beneficial in our relationship with Adonai. This will build a stronger faith in the One that dwells in thick darkness.
In the natural, this can be compared to the electromagnetic spectrum. The vast majority of the spectrum is invisible, hidden, or one could say “dark” to the eyes of man even though it is all light. These portions of the spectrum have wavelengths too large or too small for the physical limitations of man’s sight. The tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum that man can see with his eyes is called “visible light.” This is also true in the spiritual realm. God compares Himself with light, and yet man can only perceive a fraction of His light.
1 Timothy 6:15-16 (NASB) …He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
In this sense, there is light that appears “dark” or hidden from man. But, it is only dark from man’s perspective, not God’s. Thus, there are some (good) things that flourish in darkness. Consider a seed buried in the darkness of earth. It is in this place of seeming death that it germinates and sprouts to life. Or, think of a baby in the womb. It is in this dark, watery place that new life forms and grows, awaiting her day of birth.
Psalms 139:11-13 (NASB) If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. 13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.
While most flowers bloom with the light of day, there are some that only bloom at night to release their sweet perfume. In Hebrew, the tzit-tziyot (fringes) figure the bloom of a flower and the commandments of God.From those blooms, fruit will grow, mature, and become sweet. Just as some flowers bloom in the moonlight, some commandments are to be kept when it is dark, like Passover.
In Hebrew, there are two primary words for darkness. The first is choshek. Like English, this word can imply physical darkness or an absence of light, but it is also used figuratively to represent something hidden, obscure, chaotic, or evil. The second term is araphel. It is often translated as thick darkness or a dark cloud. Many Biblical verses describe the place where Adonai dwells with both Hebrew words for darkness. Here are a few:
Exodus 20:21 (NKJV) So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness (araphel) where God was.
Deuteronomy 4:11-12 (NASB) You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness (choshek), cloud and thick gloom (araphel). 12 Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice.
2 Samuel 22:10-12 (NKJV) He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness (araphel)under His feet. 11 He rode upon a cherub, and flew; and He was seen upon the wings of the wind. 12 He made darkness (choshek) canopies around Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
1 Kings 8:10-12 (NRSV) And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. 12 Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that he would dwell in thick darkness (araphel).”
In light of this, what does darkness reveal? Consider the night sky. When the sun is shining brightly, the depths of the heavens are concealed from view. But when the sun sets below the horizon, and the beautiful blue sky fades to black, the multitude of stars, planets, and galaxies that exist far beyond the earth’s atmosphere become visible to the earth. The moon, which has no light in the daytime, becomes illuminated, shining her face upon the earth. Without darkness, one would never know that stars, planets, and galaxies dot the sky far beyond the blue heavens, nor would one know that the moon has any light at all.
In the natural, it is darkness that reveals the depths of the heavens. Do you suppose this is also true in the spiritual realm? Consider your life, your light in the earth. Is your light brighter in times of “light” or in times of “darkness?” Is the light of a lamp, candle, or flashlight easier to see in the daytime or at nighttime? Sometimes, we don’t know our potential, our lumens (light output), until we find ourselves surrounded by darkness or dark circumstances. That is what happened in the story of Esther. Facing the darkness of the shadow of death, she shined brilliantly and saved the Jewish nation living in the 127 provinces of Persia.
In Persian, Esther means “star.” Stars shine in the darkness. Like all descendants of Abraham and Sarah, she was born to give light to a dark world.
Genesis 15:5-6 (NASB) And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
In Genesis 1:14, the stars and other luminaries are l’ohtot, for signs. Esther served as a sign to her people; and, she is still a sign, a shiny star to Believers today. It is likely that she drew strength by recalling Adonai’s promise to her father, Abraham. Before Adonai walked through the Covenant of Pieces as the smoking oven and flaming torch, Abraham felt terror and great darkness.
Genesis 15:12-14 (NASB) Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness (chaskekah) fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.”
God’s covenant with Abraham occurred when it was dark. In this frightful place, Adonai told him the fate of his descendants, the figurative stars. Abram experienced this as terror and great darkness. Based on this account, Jewish writings have long associated exile with darkness. Thus, the setting of Esther is darkness because the Jews in Persia were living outside the Land of Promise.
But, Esther is more than a “star.” Her name in Hebrew sounds like hester, which means hidden. In the light of day, the stars are hidden from man. In other words, when things appear good to us, lights like Esther are concealed. A scroll is megillah in Hebrew. It means to unveil or reveal what’s inside. The scroll of Esther means: Revealing the Hidden.
Just below the surface of the story, there is a hidden subtext with brilliant light for eyes that are searching for it. Without the darkness of exile, Mordecai and Esther would not have had their opportunity to shine. Without our personal times of darkness, we wouldn’t either. The darkness tests what’s in our hearts. It exposes what we really believe. And, it reveals the depths of the heavens and God’s hand in our lives in ways that cannot be perceived in times of “light.” In this way, darkness benefits our faith, and deepens our trust in Adonai.
Hebrews 11:1-2 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
Darkness Precedes Light
There is another important factor one should consider before examining the Scroll of Esther. Darkness precedes light. This pattern is first illustrated in the creation week, and then carried forth throughout the Word. It edifies one in times of struggle, turmoil, and even pending doom like Esther faced. In the beginning, there was darkness, and in that darkness, the Spirit of God hovered and fluttered over the faces of the waters.
Genesis 1:2-4 (NASB) The earth was formless and void, and darkness (choshek) was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
Darkness precedes light, just as exile precedes redemption. At creation, light came forth from the darkness. This is an important concept to grasp, because in all Biblical stories of redemption, darkness precedes light. This is also true for you and me. When we were lost in the darkness of our trespasses and sin, the Living Word of Adonai pierced our darkness with His light, the Messiah, and brought us redemption. Thus, the natural realm mirrors the spiritual.
Consider that in Hebraic thought, the “day” begins in the evening with darkness, then light emerges with the morning sun. “And there was evening and morning…” This is the model given from the first day of creation, and it has been followed faithfully by the Jewish people since that time. The seven day week also follows this pattern. The first six days of the week are mundane working days. One could say they are spiritually dark. But, the week ends with the holy Shabbat, a spiritual day, akin to “light” when man’s work ceases.
Similarly, new months begin when the moon is dark, often called the conjunction. In Hebrew, this period is called the molad, which means “birth.” However, it is not until the first sliver of light is witnessed emerging from the dark moon that it is sanctified and the new month begins.
On the larger, yearly cycle, the late fall and winter season can be likened to the “dark” part of the year, when there is literally less light. Whereas, the festival season that begins in the spring and extends to the first part of autumn, can be likened to the “light” part of the year. The feasts of Adonai occur when the days are longer and warmer. In every case above, darkness precedes light. That is the Biblical creation pattern. Thus, it is not surprising that new human life begins the same way, whether that life is physical or spiritual.
Isaiah 9:2 (NASB) The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.
Darkness of Exile and Captivity to the Light of Redemption
Now, let’s examine how the creation pattern of darkness preceding light is illustrated in stories of redemption. The exodus from Egypt is the archetype of redemption. All stories of redemption share aspects of this monumental event, which is forever commemorated by the first feast on Adonai’s yearly cycle: Pesach. Messiah’s persecution, death, and resurrection follows this model. Consider the archetypal pattern: the last three plagues involved darkness before the children of Israel went out from Egypt:
Locusts – Plague 8:
Exodus 10:4-5 (LITV) For if you refuse to send away My people, behold, I am going to bring locusts into your territory tomorrow. 5 And they will cover the eye of the land, and no one will be able to see the land. And they will eat the rest of that which escaped, that which is left to you from the hail. And they will eat every tree that sprouts to you from the field.
Darkness – Plague 9:
Exodus 10:21-23 (LITV) And Jehovah said to Moses, stretch out your hand to the heavens so that darkness (choshek) may be on the land of Egypt, and one may feel darkness (choshek). 22 And Moses stretched out his hand to the heavens, and darkness (choshek) of gloom was in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see each one his brother, and they did not rise up, each one from his place for three days. Yet to all the sons of Israel there was light in their dwellings.
Death of Firstborn – Plague 10:
Exodus 11:4-5 (NASB) Moses said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well.
There is a clear mandate for followers of the God of Israel to remember the exodus. Notice when one is to do so:
Exodus 12:42 (NASB) It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.
Redemption (Passover) is to be commemorated at night, when it is dark. But, what was the mark that Israel’s redemption was complete?
Exodus 14:24, 27 (NASB) At the morning watch, the LORD looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion… So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
When day light pierced the darkness of night, Israel’s redemption was complete! Pharaoh and his army were defeated in the waters of the Reed Sea. Does Messiah’s Passion follow a similar pattern?
Matthew 27:45 (NASB) Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.
When Messiah hung on the tree, darkness fell upon the land for three hours, mirroring the three last plagues of darkness before the redemption of Israel. From man’s perspective, that darkness remained (figuratively) for three days and nights while Yeshua was in the dark tomb. Even when the women went to the tomb, it was dark.
John 20:1 (TLV) Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it is still dark, Miriam from Magdala comes to the tomb. She sees that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb.
Matthew 28:1 (NASB) Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
But with the morning light, Yeshua appeared to Mary and the others, a clear mark of a new dawn, a new day, and the evidence that He had overcame death and redeemed all those who believe. Once again, darkness preceded Light.
Purim to Passover
Based on all the above, why do you suppose that the rabbis ensured that Purim occurs one month before Passover in a leap year when there is an added 13th month or Adar 2? They didn’t want us to miss the deep connections Purim has with Passover. Since both are stories of redemption, it is vital that we understand that whether God brings one out of darkness with a Mighty Hand and great miracles, or whether He works behind the scenes in life’s happenstances and coincidences, it is ALL Him. He is the Savior and Redeemer.
Purim occurs at the end of the cycle of months, and Passover occurs at the beginning. The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end. In nature, the season is transitioning from winter to spring – a type of darkness to light. In Esther and Exodus, the people were living in exile, or darkness. Their lives hang in the balance. Anytime one is in state of transition, there are many unknowns, things one can’t see. It is dark from man’s perspective.
But, that is the precise place where God works. David said, “Ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou are with me.” (Ps. 23) He is right there with you in your darkness. His Spirit is hovering over the dark waters of our chaos. When Yeshua walked on water, like the Spirit in the Beginning, it was DARK and the wind and waves were contrary. (Mt. 14) Likewise, He is hovering and fluttering over your darkness, your chaos, your foggy circumstances. Light will come forth from your darkness. It is like a birth, a new creation .
Now, let’s step back into the story of Esther. This young Jewish girl ended up in a foreign king’s harem. Her entire life would be dictated by this (ungodly) ruler. She had no control over her life or circumstances. Her life must’ve felt pointless, and subjected to the will of others. When Esther first met King Ahasuerus, it was in a dark month of winter, Tevet, the tenth month. In this dark place and time, God gave her favor with the king, and out of all the other women, she was chosen to be his new queen.
Esther 2:16-17 (NASB) So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus to his royal palace in the tenth month which is the month Tebeth (Tevet), in the seventh year of his reign. 17 The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
At this point in the story, Esther’s true identity is hidden from the king at Mordecai’s request. Meanwhile, it just so happened that while Mordecai sat at the king’s gate, he overheard two wicked officials discuss their plot to lay hands on the king. Mordecai reported the men to Esther, and she reported them to the king’s guard. The men were charged and executed. This incident turns out to be the key to the outcome of the whole story.
In the next chapter, Haman the Agagite is elevated to a position of authority. All pay homage to him except Mordecai, which infuriates Haman. His hatred extends to all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews. Five years and three months after Esther is crowned queen, in the month of Nisan or the first Hebrew month, Haman casts purim (lots) to discover a favorable
month to destroy the Jewish people.
Esther 3:7 (NASB) In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, Pur, that is the lot, was cast before Haman from day to day and from month to month, until the twelfth month, that is the month Adar.
This entire scene unfolds in the month of Nisan – the month of redemption on Adonai’s calendar. We don’t want to miss this connection. A great deal of this story occurs during the spring feasts. Once Haman divines that the month of Adar is best for destroying the Jews, he brings his plan to King Ahasuerus.
Esther 3:8-9 (NASB) Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain. 9 If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king’s business, to put into the king’s treasuries.”
Haman was willing to put forth his own money to fund this campaign of death – 10,000 talents of silver, which is the equivalent of about 333 tons by weight or around $5.6 million dollars in today’s currency. Haman was a man of great wealth, and he used it for evil. So, on the 13th of Nisan, the edict went out to all the provinces that nearly a year later, in the month of Adar, the people should prepare to annihilate the Jews. (Esther 3:11-15)
Esther 3:13 (NASB) Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder.
Pause right there and think about God’s calendar. From Nisan 10th to the 14th, the Passover lambs are examined for blemishes, so they can be sacrificed to the LORD to commemorate Israel’s redemption from Egypt. Was a blemish found in the “lambs” of the Jews living in Persia?
Esther 4:14 (NASB) “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
Perhaps, Esther realized she and her fellow Jews did indeed have a blemish. Consider Haman’s accusation against the Jews. They were “scattered” and “dispersed,” and their laws were different that the King Ahasuerus’. While the latter is a good thing, being scattered and dispersed signals disunity among the people. Realizing this, Esther seeks to remedy the problem:
Esther 4:16 (NKJV) “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah, a myrtle branch. Her response to Mordecai was to gather or assemble ALL the Jews. As a true Sukkot branch, she calls for the scattered people to come together in unity, just as the various lulav branches are gathered and waved before the LORD at Sukkot. Instead of feasting during Passover and Unleavened Bread, they fasted for their lives. Esther was willing to risk death for her people, a beautiful foreshadowing of the work of Yeshua.
As a result, the king was more than favorable when Esther approached him unannounced, even offering her up to half of his kingdom. She requests that the king and Haman attend a wine banquet that she had prepared. They do so, but Esther keeps her identity and true request concealed, inviting them to a second banquet the next day. Meanwhile, Haman builds 50 cubit gallows in which he intends to hang Mordecai.
During that night, the turning point of the narrative occurs. (Take note of the dark/light symbolism.) The king can’t sleep, so he has the chronicles read to him and discovers that Mordecai saved his life. The king desires to honor Mordecai for saving him. The next morning, Haman entered the courtyard to ask the king if he could hang Mordecai on the gallows that he built. In a funny turn of events, Haman instead ends up parading Mordecai throughout the kingdom to honor him for saving the king.
This mortified Haman, so he covered his head in shame, and went home to complain to his wife and friends. But, he was quickly ushered off to Esther’s second wine banquet. There, she finally revealed her true intentions. She unmasked Haman as the wicked one set on destroying her people, and revealed her Jewish identity to the king. The furious king hung Haman on the gallows he built for Mordecai.
All the above occurred during the spring feasts of Adonai. In third month of Sivan, when Shavuot is celebrated, the king allowed Mordecai and Queen Esther to issue new edicts for the upcoming time of destruction set by Haman in Adar. The rest is history. The Jews defended themselves, fear of them grew in Persia, the tables were turned, and they destroyed the ones determined to destroy them. These days were marked as the festival of Purim, a remembrance of the time Adonai turned them “from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a yom tov.” (Esther 9:22)
Haman was descendant of Amalek, the people that attacked the weak and weary Israelites in the wilderness. After this, the LORD said that He would war with Amalek from generation to generation. (Ex. 17:14-16; Dt. 25:17-19) Moses built an altar at that time, and called Adonai YHWH Nissi, the LORD is my Banner, in honor of Adonai’s declaration. A banner is a nes, which is a sign, standard, or ensign. It is also related to the Hebrew word for miracle, nes.
A nes is something lifted up like a flag that can be seen from far away. When the children of Israel warred with the Amalekites, Hur and Aaron held Moses’ tired arms up as an ensign. As long as his arms remained raised with the staff of God, Israel prevailed. In the yearly Torah cycle, we reread this account in Exodus on Purim, as we celebrate Haman’s (Amalek’s) defeat.
Adonai is truly our Banner, the One lifted up as our ensign. We look to Him and the battle is won. Every year at this season, we remember Amalek. We recall his battle tactics. He seeks to attack the stranglers, the weak, and the frail – those that are experiencing darkness. Those that are struggling with exile and hard circumstances. This is the time to lift up a banner for the whole camp of Israel to see. On Adonai’s calendar, that flag or standard is the Scroll of Esther.
She shines like a bright star to those in darkness, giving gentle instruction to the weary. She calls for gathering and unity, even in exile. She reminds us of Haman’s (Amalek’s) defeat, and the hidden, yet Mighty Hand of Adonai. Esther connects one to the new cycle, and prepares us for Pesach. She transitions us from darkness to light.
The Orthodox Pesach Haggadah highlights this with a song that is read at the end of the Seder on the first night of Passover called, It Came to Pass at Midnight. As you read through the lyrics below, meditate on the timing of redemption. When it seems like the darkest moment, even in our own lives, that is when Adonai comes to rescue us. In Egypt, we were slaves one moment, and then, at the “stroke of midnight” we were free. (Ex. 12:29) How many times has Adonai came to your aid at a figurative “midnight”?
IT CAME TO PASS AT MIDNIGHT
You performed most wonders at night,
In the early watches of this night; You caused the righteous convert,
Abraham, to triumph at night;
It came to pass at midnight.
Gerar’s king Abimelech, You judged in a dream by night; You frightened the Aramean, Laban, in the dark of night;
Israel (Jacob) overcame an angel and won by night;
It came to pass at midnight.
You crushed Egypt’s firstborn at midnight;
They found no strength when they rose at night;
The army of the prince of Sisera, You swept away with stars of night;
It came to pass at midnight.
Senncherib, the blasphemer, You disgraced by night;
Babylon’s idol fell in the dark of night;
Daniel was shown the secret of the king’s dream at night;
It came to pass at midnight.
Belshazzar, who drank from the Temple’s vessel, was killed that same night;
Daniel who was saved from the lion’s den interpreted the writing on the wall at night; Hateful Haman the Agagite wrote letters in the night;
It came to pass at midnight.
You triumphed over Haman in the king’s sleepless night;
Trample the winepress and help those who ask the watchmen, “What of the long night?” The watchman responds: “Morning comes after night;”
It came to pass at midnight.
Hasten the day of Messiah, which is neither day nor night;
Most High, make known that Yours are day and night;
Appoint guards for Your city all day and night;
Brighten like the light of day the darkness of night;
It came to pass at midnight.
In your dark hour, have you asked the watchmen, “What of the long night?” A true watchman will respond, “Morning comes after the night.” Exile, affliction, trials, and sufferings are dark, but they are not the end; they signal the beginning. This is the nature of birth and birth pangs.
We can add another “midnight” to this Orthodox poem:
Mat. 25:5-7 (NASB) Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.
The pattern is consistent and trustworthy. When it is dark, one can trust that Adonai is at work. One can believe without wavering that Adonai will once again bring the LIGHT. Not even death, the thing most fear above else, cannot separate us from the love of Messiah. “Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Ps. 30:5)
Rom. 8:35-39 (TLV) Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
Paul was convinced of this message. Are we?
Queen Esther knew the stakes. Her life was on the line for her people. We fear what lurks in the darkness of what we can’t see. But, Adonai is there with us, just as He was with the Jews in Persia. Darkness and light are alike to Adonai. (Psalm 139:12) And, we can trust that He is for us. He is good and works ALL things for the good. (Romans 8:28)
We, especially those that live in western nations like the United States, prefer teachings that focus on one’s safety and prosperity. We have developed entire theological systems that have the “church” escaping trials and tribulations. These doctrines are dangerous because they are rooted in fear of worldly poverty and death. The king’s palace, though luxurious and seemingly “safe,” could not protect Queen Esther. Mordecai told her not to even imagine that her high status would protect her. We serve the God Who gave His all for His people. He expects no less from those that follow His example.
If you find yourself lost in the dead of night at this season, seek wise watchmen, like the moedim or appointed times. They arrive in the year at the perfect time to remind one that though the enemy is always seeking your life, Adonai is still on the Throne. He redeems, He saves, He lives, and He is coming. Death will be swallowed up in victory!
So, every year we rehearse the blow to Amalek at Purim, exactly a month before Passover. On Adonai’s calendar, Purim is the (spiritual) preparation for Pesach. It dissolves the chametz of fear, doubt, and unbelief. These are lies that lurk in the dark, hidden corners of our hearts. They question God’s presence in the natural world and one’s everyday mundane existence. This type of darkness seeks to destroy one’s faith just before the first sliver of “light” pierces the night at Passover.
But, we have our own megillah, our own revealing, like Esther and Purim. This is our testimony of overcoming. It shines in the darkness like the stars and the moon. These sparks of light remind all that dwell in darkness and dark circumstances that we have a great hope. There is Good News! What is hidden now, will be revealed – unrolled like a heavenly scroll. And Messiah, our hope and glory, speaks to us in the thick darkness.
Matthew 10:26-27 (NASB) Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to look up when it is dark. There, far beyond the earth, the heavenlies utter their wordless speech. They remind all the Esther’s or stars of Abraham of Adonai’s Covenant Promises. He is faithful. Can you find the treasures of darkness? Look up!
Luke 21:25-28 (NKJV) “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
 For example, check out the Moon Flower: https://www.thespruce.com/growing-moon-flower-in-containers-4125231
 Strong’s H6734 צִיצִת tsee-tseeth’ Feminine of H6731; a floral or wing like projection, that is, a fore lock of hair, a tassel: – fringe, lock.
H6731 BDB Definition: צץ / ציץ tsı̂yts / tsits 1) flower, bloom. 1a) flower, bloom. 1b) shining thing (of gold plate on high priest’s mitre) (metaphorically). 2) feather, wing.
 H2822 חשׁך chôshek BDB Definition: 1) darkness, obscurity. 1a) darkness. 1b) secret place. Part of Speech: noun masculine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2821
 H6205 ערפל ‛ărâphel BDB Definition: 1) cloud, heavy or dark cloud, darkness, gross darkness, thick darkness. Part of Speech: noun masculine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: probably from H6201
 From the same root as choshek: H2825 חשׁיכה / חשׁכה chăshêkâh / chăshêykâh BDB Definition: 1) darkness. Part of Speech: noun feminine. A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H2821
 In a leap year, the Hebrew year has thirteen months or a second Adar. (Learn more here and here.) Leaps years occur seven times in a nineteen year cycle. The 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years of the nineteen year Metonic cycle are leap years. 5781 is year number 5 of the cycle and is therefore not a leap year. The next leap year will be in 5782, year number 6 of the cycle. See New Moon posts on Adar for more: here and here.
 See the IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament and New Testament by John H. Walton; Mark W. Chavalas; Victor H. Matthews; Craig S. Keener on Esther 3:9
 See Warring with Amalek Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to understand Haman’s connection to Amalek.
Recently, I participated in a “Table Topics” discussion with Jeremy Legatzke on Hebraic Roots Network. The topic was Purim. Jeremy prepared several questions that tend to be controversial about this Feast of the People. One question was about the tradition of dressing up or wearing costumes. Pondering this question caused me to dig for an answer. Jeremy quoted from a Haaretz article that said that donning costumes during Purim began in the 14th century as an alternative to lent. Is this tradition a tare that needs to be uprooted or is there a Biblical precedent for this custom?
While I do not agree with the scary Halloween-ish type of costumes, dressing up as Biblical or historical characters can be used as a good (and fun) teaching tool, especially for children. This is true not just for Purim, but at other times as well. Dramatic or associative play (dress-up) is an important part of child development that teaches self-regulation, conflict resolution, and empathy. It encourages imagination, creativity, and language and math development. It also relieves stress, tension, and helps children to deal with traumatic circumstances.
None of this should be surprising to a Bible Believer or something we should fear. God made us to be imitators of HIM, so naturally, children learn by imitating the adults they encounter. One year, we dressed up for our Passover Seder and it was one of the most memorable we’ve ever experienced, which is the primary POINT of the Seder.
But, what about Purim? First, it is helpful to do a concordance search on clothing, garments, robes, coverings, adornments, etc. The Word of God actually has A LOT to say about garments. In every generation, clothing has played an integral role as a mark of rank, status, royalty, righteousness, gender, holiness, wickedness, mourning, bridal attire, authority, service, and more. These coverings and what they represent are used literally, figuratively, and metaphorically in the Bible. The first mention of clothing is in Genesis:
Gen 3:21 (NASB) The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
(I’ve written some thoughts about these “garments of skin” here and here.) The last mention of clothing is in Revelation:
Rev 22:14 (NASB) Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
I hope you will meditate on those two verses for a while, as I believe they teach a profound lesson. We could spend years exploring garments, the change of garments, and other adornments in the Bible. For now, consider rereading the Book of Esther and underlining or highlighting every time you see a mention of robes, changing clothes, coverings, and other royal attire such as crowns, scepters, and signet rings. That is what I did this year, and it revealed a new dynamic to this fascinating story. If you have a good imagination, you can also picture the attire not mentioned that other characters in the story would have worn. For example, how would one know if a person was part of the royal court, harem, officials, or army if not for their garments?
Wardrobe reveals much about a person. If we see someone wearing a white coat and a stethoscope, we know that individual is a doctor. If we see a man in a blue uniform with a badge, we know that he is a police officer. So, what do the garments in the book of Esther reveal?
Esther Told Through Apparel
In a sense, the entire plot reversal in the Book of Esther is told through what is “worn.” Can you see how a tradition of dressing up or wearing costumes and masks could have arisen from the Biblical text? This is just the surface level of the story. If we dig deeper, there is more! I’ll give a couple of examples.
Did the King’s Horse Wear a Crown?
Est. 6:8 (NASB) let them bring a royal robe which the king has worn, and the horse on which the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown has been placed…
It’s obvious that Haman’s pride and unbridled desire for recognition and power had no bounds. This wasn’t lost on King Ahasuerus. Some scholars believe that the Persian horses wore crown-like adornments, especially those used by the royal family, but others disagree. I tend to side with the latter view based on the Hebrew text. The “royal crown” mentioned in the verse above is “מלכות כתר” or keter malkhut. It is used in two other places in the Book of Esther:
Est. 1:11 (NASB) to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful.
Est. 2:17 (NASB) The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
This “royal crown” is different than the large crown of gold (atarah gadol) that was given for Mordecai to wear. Both display authority, but only one represents the actual kingdom, a feminine Hebrew word. Based on the usage of this Hebrew phrase, some scholars believe that what Haman actually requested was not the king’s crown or his horse’s, but the crown of the queen! Even though Haman was second in the kingdom, he wanted more. He wanted to be THE king and have his wife, the queen, too. This isn’t an outrageous interpretation considering what happened when the king returned from his anger at the second wine banquet. He found Haman falling onto the couch (or bed) with Esther.
Est. 7:8 (NKJV) When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?” As the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.
Ironically, it was this suspicion that cost Haman his life, not his hatred for the Jews. No one messes with the wife of the king and gets away with it!
Before Esther approached the king unannounced, she had not been summoned in thirty days. (Est. 4:11) But when Esther boldly approached the throne, inviting the king and Haman to a “wine banquet,” it intrigued the king. She had his full attention. What could she want? Why did she also invite Haman? To add to the mystery, Esther didn’t tell the king what she wanted at the first banquet. Can you imagine how heightened his curiosity must have been when she requested that he and Haman join her again the next night?
After the first banquet, the king couldn’t sleep. Can you blame him? You know he had to be wondering why in the world she (his queen and wife) only invited him and Haman to these specially prepared wine banquets. He tried to ease his troubled mind by having the book of records read to him. This is how he discovered that Mordecai had saved his life.
Thus, the next day, all his worry and suspicion is fresh on his mind when he asks Haman how he should honor a man that he desires to honor. Do you think he might have been extra sensitive to Haman using the words “keter malkhut?” After this display, King Ahasuerus was likely wondering if Haman wanted not only his kingdom, but also his woman, the queen. I believe this is why his reaction was swift and decisive when he saw Haman falling onto the couch with Esther. It was a confirmation of all his suspicions!
Haman essentially wanted to switch clothes (roles) with the king. Instead, he ended up wearing the very noose he had prepared for Mordecai. Or, perhaps more accurately, a very large pike was adorned with Haman’s head as a warning to all who defied the crown.
Concealed and Revealed
A common theme in the Book of Esther is hidden motives, hidden identities, and even a hidden God (YHWH’s Name doesn’t appear in the Esther even though His divine providence is seen throughout the book.) Costumes and masks “hide” or “conceal” what is underneath. Esther concealed the fact that she was a Jew at the command of Mordecai, though the writer is sure to tell us that they are from the tribe of Benjamin. (Est. 2)
The author also reveals the lineage of Haman:
Est. 3:1 (NASB) After these events King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him.
Haman is called the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, or of the Agagites. This recalls Agag the king of the Amalekites, conquered and taken prisoner by Saul, and hewn into pieces by Samuel. (1 Sam. 15:8,33) It also harkens back to when the children of Israel first crossed the Reed (Red) Sea and were attacked by the Amalekites. (Ex. 17:8-16) Hence, both Jewish and Christian expositors regard Haman as a descendant of the Amalekite king, who was a descendant of Esau.
If this is the case, Haman’s hatred of Mordecai and the Jews is a very old sibling rivalry that dates back to Jacob and Esau. On a spiritual level, this is the battle of appetites and desires (flesh) with the truth of the Word of God and His Torah. On the outside, Esau wore the skin of the firstborn, but he was ruled by his flesh rather than the Spirit of God. He acted rashly and without concern for his birthright, because he’d rather be in the field like a beast. But Jacob was a peaceful man of the tents, an idiom for Torah study. Thus, Esau’s stomach of desire sold the divine birthright to Jacob for a bowl of red (earth/flesh-like) soup.
Rebekah was given a Word from the LORD while the boys were still in her womb that the older would serve the younger. And, when an aged and blind Isaac went to bless the boys before he died, Rebekah counseled Jacob to dress up or wear the beast-like costume of Esau.
Jacob disguised his identity by donning the garments of his brother and received the blessing of the firstborn, which YHWH said belonged to him in the first place.
Gen. 27:15 (NASB) Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son.
At first glance, this activity appears to be highly deceptive. I believe we are meant to wrestle with this story. What was really happening here? Did Rebekah and Jacob sin or did they fulfill God’s plan in an unorthodox way? Wasn’t there a way for YHWH’s intended son to receive the birthright and the blessing without such trickery? To add to our struggle, the Word never says that Rebekah or Jacob sinned by going through with their plan.
Did you catch the punch line? Israel (Jacob) received the blessing while he was wearing the costume of Esau!
Some rabbis teach that this is the real reason for the tradition of wearing costumes on Purim. Descendants of Jacob and Esau met in Persia, and once again Esau sought the life of Jacob. But also once again, there was a heavenly reversal and Jacob (Mordecai) received the eminent position that Esau (Haman) sought.
There are some deep lessons to be learned by wearing the garments of another. If children benefit from this activity in the natural, what do you suppose the spiritual counterpart is?
I think the answer is found in Genesis chapter 1:
Gen. 1:27 (NASB) God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
We are the image of God in the earth. We are imitators of the Messiah. We are clothed in garments of salvation and robed in His righteousness. But sometimes, we must beat the beast at his own game of masquerading as an angel of light. Things are not always what they seem. Sometimes, what appears to be harlot, is a righteous woman doing the will of God. Sometimes, what appears to be foreign pagan ruler, is actually our long, lost brother. (Joseph)
Esau still hates Jacob, even if he offers a kiss. We need to discern these twins within ourselves first. Like Esther, many of us live in exile. But also like Esther, we are daughters of Abihail. (Est.2:15) In Hebrew, Abihail is Av + chayil. Our Father is a strong Warrior!
We recall righteous Tamar that took off her garments of widowhood and donned the apparel of a prostitute, concealing her identity from Judah. Her costume helped procure the line of Judah and the Messiah! We recall Joseph who dressed and spoke like an Egyptian, and saved not only the nation of Israel, but also many others. We remember that the outside of the cup can be deceiving. The children of light give others the benefit of doubt. They are not quick to judge or to speak. They do not promote unforgiveness or hatred, even when they are betrayed and hurt. They are image-bearers of God and not a red, hairy beast of the field.
If wearing a costume or dressing up teaches one to be more like Adonai, and to be more empathetic to other’s plights, and it confuses the schemes of the enemy, then that’s what I want to do.
 Est. 8:15 (NASB) Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced.
 1 Cor. 1:11, Eph. 5:1
 Is. 61:10
I’ve been going through tons of drafts and cleaning them up for publishing. This particular series began as answers to emails, so if they read a little odd, that’s why. (:
Click here for Part I
“…that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives.” (1 Pet. 3:1-2)
Does this passage and others like it command women to remain silent, quiet, or unquestioning in the assembly and with their husbands? Peter’s audience was primarily former pagan gentiles. Apparently, more women had turned to Messiah in this assembly than had their husbands, and they needed some instruction.
Peter’s suggestions for these wives wasn’t something new. The Word of YHWH is always concerned with our deeds, not our creeds. Actions really do speak much louder than words. This is because we act out what we really believe or what is really in our hearts. A person can talk to another until they’re blue in the face, but it is the deeds and actions that reveal the truth (or lack thereof) of what someone says.
Thus, Peter’s advice for wives to lead their husbands to Messiah by their walk/actions/lifestyle is true for far more than just “husbands.” This works on people in general because it reveals authentic faith, love, and respect. “You will know them by their fruit”, not their words or creeds. As new believers in the Jewish Messiah, these women would have been walking and living contrary to the culture around them. Hopefully, their husbands would see a stark change in their behavior and the ensuing blessings as a result, and this would win them to Messiah. But hopefully, this would win far more than their husbands — family members, friends, and neighbors!
Peter doesn’t say that these women never SPOKE a word, became mute, or took a vow of silence. Wise women don’t incessantly harp on their men to “know Jesus”, nag, or give childish guilt trips. These tactics are forms of manipulation. They are not of Elohim, nor do they produce godly fruit. This is true no matter the situation, circumstance, or predicament. Neither a man nor a woman should use their mouth for this purpose regardless of whether they have a believing or unbelieving spouse.
How does an ezer kenegdo follow this example and still “oppose” her husband when necessary? To oppose doesn’t mean that a wife becomes a vessel of strife, contention, aggression, or the like. Those are all issues of the flesh, which should be in subjection to the renewed spirit-man (ruach) of a believer. Perhaps an example will be helpful.
What if a man comes home to his wife and says, “I’m going to take our life savings to the casino.” Does YHWH expect this woman to say, “Yes lord, do with it whatever you please.” If this is their entire life savings, a decision like this is indeed an unwise and ungodly way to spend the provision YHWH has provided. By remaining silent, the woman is agreeing to this decision. If the woman points out the folly of his foolish choice, it might bring him to his senses and spare them from the consequences of a very bad decision. (Obviously, the example above is an extreme case, but even small decisions can have huge consequences.)
If Esther had remained silent when her husband signed the edict to kill the Jewish people, this article would have never been written. Esther’s methods should be noted as a good example. She respectfully approached the king (though unannounced, against his “rules”, and at the risk of her life). YHWH had already prepared the heart of the king, as he was willing to give Esther up to half of his kingdom. (Talk about equality!) She then invited him to a private wine banquet. Twice! — Before SPEAKING her heart. She didn’t oppose him by berating, yelling, or scorning him for making such a detrimental decree. Instead, she wined and dined him, which created some mystery and intrigued the king.
Peter would have been familiar with the many women of the Tanakh that used their voices, so what did him mean by a meek, gentle, and quiet spirit?
But let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (1 Pet. 3:4)
The Greek word hesuchios is often translated as “quiet” in this verse. Strong’s defines it as:
G2272 ἡσύχιος A prolonged form of a compound probably of a derivative of the base of G1476 and perhaps G2192; properly keeping one’s seat (sedentary), that is, (by implication) still (undisturbed, undisturbing): – peaceable, quiet.
Peter isn’t talking about not talking. He doesn’t expect these women to not speak to their husbands. Those that follow the G-d of Israel should be known by their gentle, meek, quiet, peaceable, and tranquil spirits or dispositions. In other words, Messiah’s disciples shouldn’t be the ones that are causing strife, divisions, or arguments. This is true for men and women, king and layperson as this very SAME Greek word is used in the following in verse 2:
1Ti 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,
1Ti 2:2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
1Ti 2:3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
1Ti 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Paul said the same thing that Peter said in 1 Peter 3. Our BEHAVIOR (regardless if we are male or female) is what wins the lost. We should be known for our kind, gentle, and peaceable (quiet) lifestyle. Paul expresses his heartfelt prayers for this to be especially true in the lives of those in AUTHORITY. Their example is a witness to even more lives that YHWH desires to come to the truth.
In both cases with the Greek word hesuchios, translated as quiet, the meaning has nothing to do with “not speaking.” The basic sense of the word is to “keep one’s seat.” Know Your Place. In other words, true followers of YHWH are not those that rise up in offense and cause disturbances. They are not trouble makers. They do not offend easily. Rather, they are peacemakers that desire a tranquil lifestyle. It is the nephesh (flesh/emotions/instincts) that gets a person all fired up to cause harm, mischief, debauchery, or endless disputations. These (if they indeed even believe at all) need milk because their flesh controls their actions rather than the spirit-man. Peter and Paul remind us that the fruit we should produce is peaceable, tranquil, and quiet. This isn’t about gender, it’s about godly character.
But what about…
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. (1 Tim. 2:11-15 KJV)
If you scroll back up a few paragraphs, you’ll notice that I’ve already quoted from 1 Timothy 2. The same Greek word, hesuchios, is translated as silence and quiet life in 1 Tim 2:2 and 2:11. I think you understand what the meaning of hesuchios is at this point. But you might be disappointed to discover that I have no intentions of trying to reinvent the wheel in verses 11-15. Many great scholars have done a wonderful job of explaining the many nuances of the Greek of these verses, the context of the culture, and the fact that this is a LETTER of which we have only half of the conversation. (I’ve linked to one of my favorites below.)
No matter what, there are going to be many that refuse to let go of their theological paradigms in regard to the role of women — context, culture, language be damned. Like the disciples (pre-Messiah intervention) the Gospel from the lips of women is nonsense to them.
And as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. (Luke 24: 5-11)
Thus, if one deems the messenger or vessel unfit, only Messiah can open their eyes. The 1 Timothy 2:11-15 passage is typically used as “trump” verses to silence women from proclaiming the Gospel. This tactic is a repeat of Luke 24. But, we serve an amazing Elohim. He uses those called despised, foolish, and weak to confound the wise and strong!
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)
There have been many women throughout the centuries that were deemed weak, silly, or foolish that YHWH chose to deliver the Good News. The verses in Luke above cite numerous women that “were telling” and “reported” what they witnessed at the Tomb to the apostles. Here are the Greek words used:
Lego = “were telling”
G3004 Thayer Definition: 1) to say, to speak 1a) affirm over, maintain 1b) to teach 1c) to exhort, advise, to command, direct 1d) to point out with words, intend, mean, mean to say 1e) to call by name, to call, name 1f) to speak out, speak of, mention Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: a root word
Apaggello = “reported”
G518 Thayer Definition:
1) to bring tidings (from a person or a thing), bring word, report
2) to proclaim, to make known openly, declare
Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G575 and the base of G32
How in the world does one escape the conclusion that these women were, in fact, proclaiming and teaching the men and apostles the Good News, Messiah is Risen? If we jump straight to 1 Timothy 2:11-15 without the context of the rest of the Bible, we are only fooling ourselves. Worse, vessels chosen by Messiah are rebuked, shunned, and silenced due to ignorance, stubbornness, or flat out misogyny. Luke 24 is only one example. I wanted to get you thinking about the big picture rather than the tiny part that is 1 Tim. 2:11-15.
1 Timothy 2:11-15 doesn’t define the whole Bible, rather the rest of the Bible defines 1 Timothy 2. While I have no desire to hash out the details of these verses in their cultural context, the link below is thorough and succinct. Enjoy!
The Consensus and Context of 1 Timothy 2:12
For more information, see The Biblical Role of Women