Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Was the Story of Purim Historical?

originally posted 02/25/10

Josephus' account of Esther:


An interesting Point
The Critical School relies upon Josephus to question the story of Hanukkah
But many in that same school seem to ignore Joesphus when questioning the story of Purim.
Freilichen Purim


Garnel Ironheart said...

Having done some reading on the subject, I can offer this:
1) Remember that Jewish writings tend to emphasize the Jewish aspect of a story while minimizing other, possibly more important historical events because they're not "Jewish". For example, a punitive raid by four eastern kings into the Jordan valley becomes the first great World War.
2) Purim takes place in one part of the Persian empire and only one part. It was also written in that same Persian empire and thus was censored from the very beginning.

Therefore, keeping those facts in mind we can understand a few things. Mordechai, as prime minister, was probably one of many spread throughout the Empire and, in the grand scheme of things, not so important as to have been remembered from the Persian perspective.
Esther was probably one of many queens Xerxes has and again, from their perspective, not so memorable. Same thing with Haman.
So there is no problem with seeing the story of Esther from our perspective while remembering that it probably didn't rank highly in the Persian recollection of things.

Rabbi R Wolpoe said...

Well Said

I was really being COY about my agenda. The point was to show how that the same "critics" who use Josephus to undermine the History of Hanukkah Miracle, will then turn around and question the Purim Story, thereby overlooking Josephus' take.

And so I was questioning this cherry-picking inconsistency of some of the critics.

Frankly, it is possible that the Megilah does embellish the story with some "aggadic license" - but the basic story line is not just legend. AISI - Josephus would have let on if this was a "bubbe maashe" And so the storyline must be true - even if we quibble with some of the details.