Purim gives hope to troubled Zimbabweans

STAFF WRITER

The Zimbabwean Messianic Jewish community has called on Zimbabweans to be hopeful despite the gloomy economic and political outlook by taking a leaf from the book of Esther in which the Jews survived purging from Persian rulers.

Zimbabwe is grappling with crippling power cuts, foreign currency shortages, high inflation, currency conundrum, and volatile exchange rate but according to Jews that can be swept under the carpet if God permits.

The survival of the Jews from the purge has led to celebration of Purim Day, which is a fest of lots. The day also refers to a joyous Jewish festival commemorating the survival of the Jews who, in the 5th century BCE, were marked for death by their Persian rulers.

Every year starting on the Hebrew date of Adar 14, Jewish people all over the world celebrate the victorious festival of Purim.

Speaking at the sidelines of the Purim celebrations in the capital last week, Beit Shuvu Africa Ministries teacher Godwill Siringwani told Business Times that this religious celebration commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from the cruel Haman’s plot to rid them from the world.

“Events may occur in our lives that seem random, but the book of Esther reveals that God is in control, no matter how powerful our enemy or how bleak the situation. Whatever our situation or circumstance, we can rest in the assurance that our times are truly in God’s hands,” Siringwani said.

Purim is also referred to as a festival to dress up, wear a mask and have fun.

In the Book of Esther, the heroine of story, Esther, had a secret identity.
Siringwani chronicled the story of Esther from a slave girl to a queen and how God’s power turned the imminent purging of Jews into wild celebrations.

“For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. …  Therefore, these days were called Purim, from the word pur.”

“Haman, chief minister of King Ahasuerus, incensed that Mordecai, a Jew, held him in disdain and refused obeisance, convinced the king that the Jews living under Persian rule were rebellious and should be slaughtered.

“With the king’s consent, Haman set a date for the execution (the 13th day of the month of Adar) by casting lots and building gallows for Mordecai.

“When word of the planned massacre reached Esther, the beloved Jewish queen of Ahasuerus and adopted daughter of Mordecai, she risked her life by going uninvited to the king to suggest a banquet that Haman would attend,” Siringwani said.

The Beit Shuvu teacher said God told the Jews that He who delivered them from Egypt’s pharaoh long ago is well able to deliver them from Haman today.

“At the meal, she pleaded for the Jews and accused “this wicked Haman” of plotting the annihilation of her people. Upset, the king stepped out into the palace gardens. On returning, he found Haman “falling on the couch where Esther was.”

“The king mistook Haman’s frantic pleas for mercy as an attack upon the queen.

“The outraged king ordered that Haman be hanged and that Mordecai be named to his position. Esther and Mordecai then obtained a royal edict allowing Jews throughout the empire to attack their enemies on Adar 13.

“After an exhilarating victory, they declared the following day a holiday and (alluding to the lots Haman had cast) named it Purim,” he said.

At an event hosted by the local Jews, they boo Haman whenever the name is read while cheering Mordecai.

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