Friday, March 21, 2008

No Basis In History

I had always assumed, since Purim was a post-Biblical holiday, one could find historic references to the holiday. Having done some LIMITED research on the internet today, I was fascinated to find that there really is not any recorded reference to the events outside of the Magilah.

It all started when I went to shul (services) this morning to hear the Magilah reading. After services I stayed for a little breakfast and conversation. One of the people talked about what a ‘Nice story’ this is and while it is looking to teach us a lesson, it has no basis in fact. I argued that it did, again making the claim that as a post-Biblical holiday, of course you can find reference to at least some of the events.

“Where,” asked my friend and I told him I would look it up. “You do that,” he responded.

I then set out to do my research via the internet. What I was able to find was that King Ahashvarush, whom we read about in the Magilah, is believed to be Xerxes. There apparently is no mention of Vashti (The queen that King Ahashhvarush banishes) or of Esther, the woman he picks to be his new queen and the one who ultimately saves the Jews.

Apparently most people believe the story of Esther to be ‘historic fiction’. Certainly religion requires a certain amount of faith. People can believe without having a basis in fact or in history. Still, I just found it interesting that there was not historic writings outside of the Megilah to back up, at least some of the facts, of the Purim story.

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