Wednesday marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday Purim, a spring festival meant to commemorate the Jews’ deliverance from genocide more than 2,000 years ago under Persian Empire rule. The holiday, marked by costume-wearing, dancing, parades and traditional food, originated with the Biblical book of Esther and was first celebrated during the first century A.D.
The story of Esther, which got a mention from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his controversial speech Tuesday before the U.S. Congress, recounts how the Jewish leader Mordecai warned Esther, who had gained favor with the Persian King Ahasuerus but whose Jewish nationality was not known, about a plot to kill the empire’s Jews. The Jews ultimately fought off their attackers and were spared from annihilation.
Purim starts on the night of March 4 and ends the following evening. Here are 11 quotes, sayings and Bible verses to share on the Jewish holiday.
1. “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” – Psalm 16:8
2. "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?" – Esther 4:14
3. “In them the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including children and women, and to plunder their spoil.” – Esther 8:11
4. “Jews survived all the defeats, expulsions, persecutions and pogroms, the centuries in which they were regarded as a pariah people, even the Holocaust itself, because they never gave up the faith that one day they would be free to live as Jews without fear.” – Jonathan Sacks, rabbi and Jewish scholar
5. “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth.” -- Deuteronomy 7:6
6. “In Jewish history there are no coincidences.” – Elie Wiesel
7. "A righteous man falls down seven times and gets up." – Proverbs 24:16
8. “Who is wise? One who learns from every man… Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations… Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot… Who is honorable? One who honors his fellows.” – Ben Zoma, Ethics of the Fathers 4:1
9. “If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left, when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed, will be held up as an example.” ― Anne Frank
10. "I don't speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don't have the power to remain silent." – Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook
11. "And who is like your people Israel — the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.” -- 2 Samuel 7:23-24