Purim

LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR

March 19, 2016 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129

As we approach the celebration of Purim on March 24 we have a modern Persia (Iran) developing atomic energy and threating to wipe Israel off the face of the map.  If this were just my opinion it would not be much of an issue.  However, the intentions of Iran have been repeatedly pronounced by its Mullahs in a very public way.   So far the rest of the world has not taken the threats seriously, but these modern Hamans are very serious and there does not seem to be a viable Esther in sight.

There is very little sympathy for Israel in the Middle East.  The general attitude is that Israel was conquered by the armies of Mohammed in 636 AD and is therefore Moslem land.  The Jewish state is illegitimate and therefore the entire of Israel is occupied territory.  The fact that Israel was taken from a Christian Byzantine Empire does not register with the Islamic mind set.  History begins with Mohammed and everything before the Prophet is irrelevant.  This accounts for the destruction of historic treasures by ISIS.  They simply do not count as important in the present history of the world.

This general world view is being modified by the attempts of ISIS to restore the Ottoman Empire and to set up a Sunni caliphate in the entire Middle East.  This goes against the nationalism that has developed since the rise of Independent Middle East states like Jordan and Egypt.  Israel is getting some sympathy from Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and the Saudis who want nothing to do with a caliphate that would overturn their national sovereignty.

This regional nationalism does not rule out the idea that Israel is an interloper in the Middle East.  However, it does modify the present attitude in the light of ISIS objectives.

The history of Israel goes back to 1400 BC.  Jerusalem has never been the capital of any nation but Israel.  Readers of this column know that I have traveled extensively in Israel.  On one trip I remember my wife sharing a remark overheard by a disgruntled wife to her husband who clearly was the force behind making the journey to the Holy Land.  She was complaining that “Everything over here is so old.”   The history of the Jewish state goes back 3400 years.    On the other hand, it is the only democracy in the Middle East.   If it looks a bit like the United States in its democratic values it may be because those values come from the same book, which goes back as far as Sinai.

The plot of Haman to destroy Israel was thwarted by a young queen by the name of Esther.  The threat is no less today than it was in the time of Xerxes I (486 – 465 BC) of Persia.  Ester is a Persian name meaning “Star.”  Her Hebrew name was Hadassah which means “myrtle.”  In the often petty quarrels that seem to plague this current political race for the presidency we need a voice for Israel to be heard above the noise of political posturing.

“Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6).”  The voice of Esther needs to be heard in our time.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at ravscarle@verizon.net).  END-whs