Arent de Gelder 1645 – 1727

Esther and Mordecai Writing the Second Letter of Purim

oil on canvas (59 × 143 cm) — ca. 1685 Museum RISD Museum of Art, Providence RI

Arent de Gelder biography

This work is linked to Esther 9:29

Tags: Esther

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After the evil Haman's plans for the extermination of all Jews in Persia is frustrated by Esther and Mordecai, King Ahasuerus grants the Jews permission to wreak vengeance. In grand old Testament style, the Jews slaughter tens of thousands of perceived enemies and then whoop it up.

After Haman is hanged, Mordecai replaces him as the king's most important servant. Esther is the king's wife - both Esther and Mordecai are Jews. Together they write a letter to the Jews in all 127 provinces of Persia, reminding them to annually commemorate this victory on the 14th and 15th day of the month of Adar. That letter became known as the first letter of Purim. The second was sent not much later, confirming the first.

The name of this feast, Purim, is from the Persian word for lot: pur and refers to how Haman cast lot to decide on the date of execution, as can be read in Esther 3.

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