Purim and Christmas: Binding Upon Saints?

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Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Esther 9:20-22

And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far,

To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly,

As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.

Esther 9:26-28

Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them,

The Jews ordained, and took upon them and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to the appointed time every year;

And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them fail from their seed.

Esther 9:31,32

To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry.

And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.
It has been argued that, based on the establishment of Purim among the Jews, that Christians are given permission to make festivals of their own devising. Hence, Christmas and Easter and other such things.

But was Purim required, like the festivals prescribed in the Torah? Reading Esther 9, I would be inclined to say that it was. The language doesn't appear to make the festival "optional" at all.

I am left with two options:

1. The Jews, without divine appointment, ordained the festival of Purim; and (from the language in Esther 9) participation was required.

2. God ordained the festival of Purim. It was binding on OT saints, but, like Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, etc., it has passed away.​

If the former, it would appear to follow that festivals ordained by the church are binding upon Christians. Now, I don't think any advocate of Christmas here on the Puritan Board would ever suggest such a thing. However, I would appreciate an explanation for why, apparently, Purim was a requirement, yet Christmas is a matter of liberty.
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
If the former, it would appear to follow that festivals ordained by the church are binding upon Christians.

With Esther as Queen and Mordecai given the power Haman, it seems like you may be able to take this as they were acting within their civil authority.

Esther 3:1
After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him.

Esther 8:2
And the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
With Esther as Queen and Mordecai given the power Haman, it seems like you may be able to take this as they were acting within their civil authority.

Esther 3:1
After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him.

Esther 8:2
And the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.
That both Mordecai and Esther were acting with respect to their civil authority is clear. The question is whether among the Jews participation was required the same way as with the other OT feast days.

If it was merely a statute within the Achaemenid Empire it would be unusual indeed among Jewish festivals. Also, it continued to be practiced outside the Empire and long afterwards (as the instructions in Esther 9 say to do).
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
Matthew Henry indicates it was a human decision and therefore not a holy day:

By whom it was instituted and enacted. It was not a divine institution, and therefore it is not called a holy day, but a human appointment, by which it was made a good day, Esther 9:19 Esther 9:22. (1.) The Jews ordained it, and took it upon themselves (v. 27), voluntarily undertook to do as they had begun. v. 23. They bound themselves to this by common consent. (2.) Mordecai and Esther confirmed their resolve, that it might be the more binding on posterity, and might come well recommended by those great names. They wrote, [1.] With all authority (v. 29), as well they might, Esther being queen and Mordecai prime-minister of state. It is well when those who are in authority use their authority to authorize that which is good. [2.] With words of peace and truth. Though they wrote with authority, they wrote with tenderness, not imperious, not imposing, but in such language as the council at Jerusalem use in their decree (Acts xv. 29): "If you do so and so, you shall do well. Fare you well." Such was the style of these letters, or such the salutation or valediction of them: Peace and truth be with you.

He also indicates that it degenerated

What it has since degenerated to, which is much worse. Their own writers acknowledge that this feast is commonly celebrated among them with gluttony, and drunkenness, and excess of riot. Their Talmud says expressly that, in the feast of Purim, a man should drink till he knows not the difference between Cursed be Haman, and Blessed be Mordecai. See what the corrupt and wicked nature of man often brings that to which was at first well intended: here is a religious feast turned into a carnival, a perfect revel, as wakes are among us. Nothing more purifies the heart and adorns religion than holy joy; nothing more pollutes the heart and reproaches religion than carnal mirth and sensual pleasure. Corruptio optimi est pessima--What is best becomes when corrupted the worst.

Since we have examples of God ordained ceremonies being abolished because of misuse, how much more should we be careful with things that humans decided (i.e. Christmas services).
https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/calvin-on-removing-idolatry-from-worship-2-kings-18-4.99500/

Not sure if that answers your original question, but that is the logic trail for me that makes sense.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Matthew Henry indicates it was a human decision and therefore not a holy day:



He also indicates that it degenerated



Since we have examples of God ordained ceremonies being abolished because of misuse, how much more should we be careful with things that humans decided (i.e. Christmas services).
https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/calvin-on-removing-idolatry-from-worship-2-kings-18-4.99500/

Not sure if that answers your original question, but that is the logic trail for me that makes sense.
This is helpful, thank you.

According to Henry, it is not then a holy day, but, I suppose, more of a cultural celebration. Still, the language quite strongly suggests a perpetual commitment to keeping the two-day festival.
 
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