Messianic Apologetics

Addressing the Theological and Spiritual Issues of the Broad Messianic Movement

Jewish Tradition

Shavuot is one of three pilgrimage festivals that is commanded in the Torah (Exodus 23:14-17; Deuteronomy 16:16). In Hebrew, its name means “weeks,” derived from the command in Deuteronomy 16:19, “You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain.” Many Christians know Shavuot from its Greek-derived name “Pentecost,” as Pentēkostē means “fiftieth,” indicative of the fifty days that are to be counted between Passover and this time.

The holiday of Purim is a relatively minor festival in the Tanach (Old Testament), yet it portrays a very important story that all of God’s people need to understand. Having been dispersed into Babylonian exile in 585 B.C.E., the Jewish people now find themselves under Persian rule. While many find their new Persian rulers more tolerant than the Babylonians, the Jews are still a minority and often find themselves subject to harassment and persecution. In the Book of Esther, King Ahasuerus’ (or Xerxes’) grand vizier, the evil Haman, devises a plot to kill the Jews when he is not worshipped by Mordecai. But Ahasuerus’ new wife, the Jewess Esther, is placed in just the right position at just the right time to see that this scheme does not come to pass. Instead, Haman is executed using the very means that he intended to use against the Jews.

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