My readers would know that one of the most important words in my writings is “hidden”. Today, as we enter Purim’s celebrations (especially joyful this year as it is the year of Israel’s 70th birthday), I am happy to write about the book of Esther, because there are a lot “hidden” themes in this prophetic book.
You all know the story: expelled from the Holy Land, Jews settled in different towns of the Persian Empire. At some point the king of the empire, the Emperor Ahasuerus, was looking for a new wife and thus the beautiful and pure Esther – Hadasah, an orphan raised by her cousin, a godly Jewish man named Mordechai – became a queen of this world empire. Obedient to Mordechai’s command, she did not reveal her background to anyone. (This is our first “hidden”, by the way: a righteous Jewish girl with God’s light inside of her heart, is hidden inside of this dark heathen place – the King’s palace.)
As the story goes, Mordechai refused to bow his head in honor of Haman, a royal adviser to Emperor Ahasuerus. In utter rage at Mordechai, Haman pays off the King to decree a mass genocide of all Jews: the Emperor issues a decree commanding “to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day” (Est.3:13).
An amazing conversation between Mordechai and Queen Esther follows: Mordechai tells Esther about Haman’s plot and the King’s decree, and asks her to intervene to save her people. We all know his famous words: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Est. 4:14)
Mordechai rallied the Jews to fasting and prayer, Esther also fasted and prayed for three days, and as a result, the evil was reversed and the Jews saved. A decree that the king had sealed could not be nullified, but Esther was able to convince Ahasuerus to hang Haman and to issue a second decree, allowing Jewish people to defend themselves. On the 13th of Adar, battles were fought throughout the empire between the Jews and those who sought to destroy them. The following day, Adar 14, became a day of celebration of the ensuing Jewish victory. Since the battle in Shushan went on for two days, the celebration in Shushan was held on Adar 15. Thus, these two days were instituted as the festival of Purim – Adar 15 in walled cities, and Adar 14 in unwalled towns (today, the only city in which Purim is celebrated on the fifteenth of Adar is Jerusalem.)
Now, fast forward to 1946 (around 2500 years), and you will see that when I wrote: “prophetic book”, it was not a typo – even though, as you probably know, the book of Esther is Part of the Ketuvim, or Writings, of the Hebrew Bible. On October 1st, 1946, after 216 court sessions, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg delivered its verdicts sentencing the leaders of the Nazi party to death. Ten Nazi leaders were to be hanged. One of them was Julius Streicher, a key Nazi propagandist and the publisher of the anti-Semitic newspaper Der Sturmer. Seconds before he was hanged, Streicher turned suddenly to face the witnesses and screamed: “Purim Fest 1946!”
In order to understand Streicher’s final words, let us look into the text. In chapter 9 we read:
And the king said to Esther the queen, “The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the capital, and the ten sons of Haman…Now whatever your petition, it shall be granted; whatever your request further, it shall be done.”
Then said Esther, “If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews that are in Shushan to do tomorrow also as this day, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.” (Est. 9:12-13)
For generation, our sages have pondered this strange request: if Haman’s ten sons had already been killed, how could they be hanged? They found an answer in the word “tomorrow”: ‘There is a tomorrow that is now, and a tomorrow which is later.’ In other words, Esther was asking that the hanging of Haman’s ten sons should recur in the future, as well. Why? Because, even though in the days of Esther the genocide was avoided, Megillat Esther is telling us explicitly that the first decree was never nullified. The hateful plans and the cruel intentions of Haman—“to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews”—have been there ever since, and are still there. Therefore, Esther is asking for the same victories in the future. In this sense, the hanging of 10 Nazi leaders in 1946 was indeed—Purim 1946.
But there is an even more amazing “hidden prophecy” in the text of Megillat Esther linking the story of Purim with this execution. If we read the original text, we see that four letters in the names of the 10 sons of Haman are written in a different font: three letters are smaller – tav, shin and zayin – while one letter is larger – vav. Jewish sages have always taught that any variation in the size of a letter in Scripture has a specific meaning. So, what is the meaning of these unusually sized letters?
The numerical value of a letter vav, (the big one), is 6; the small tav, shin and zayin together form 707 (400+300+7). Therefore, these numbers signify 707th year of the sixth millennium – in other words, the Jewish year 5707, which corresponds to… yes, your guess is correct, 1946, the year of the execution of these ten Nazi war criminals. Note that the original number of the Nazi leaders to be executed, was 11; however, following the Nuremberg Trials, Hermann Göring committed suicide and thus the number became 10 – exactly as in Esther’s request. Note also that since the trial was conducted by a military tribunal, the condemned should have been executed by a firing squad; however, the court’s verdict was “death by hanging” —again, exactly as in Esther’s request. Undoubtedly, the sovereign hand of God orchestrated these events – and apparently one of the condemned, Julius Streicher, was able to see this hand of God as he grasped this link to Purim in his final words: “Purim Fest 1946”. Now I think you will agree that the Book of Esther is a prophetic book indeed!
CHAG PURIM SAMEACH!
Next time, we will continue the discussion of this fascinating book and the profound lessons it teaches us.
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 You might be interested to know that they were hanged on the 16th of October, which that year was Hoshana Rabbah— the day that, according to Judaism, the judgment of the world for the next year is finalized.