Monday, March 24, 2008


Frum Heretic has a few interesting posts on the ahistorical nature of the Megillah. I think this has probably been beaten to death in several places in the jbl*g*sphere, but I actually think that he and these other guys are barking up the wrong tree when they quibble about things like the number of provinces and how many talents Haman paid to the king. I mean, let's say that 500 years from now you found the story of the Kennedy assassination, but instead of Dallas, he was killed in Cuba, and instead of his wife being named Jackie, she was named Ishtar. Every other major point was accurate. Would you write off the story and say it didn't happen, because you had found other documents which lead you to believe that people were not named Ishtar in the 1960's and Americans were at war with Cuba so Kennedy could not have been there?

On the other hand, the one thing that bothers me about the Megillah story is the little emphasized fact that in it the Jews seem to be spread out all over the Persian empire. If the dating of the story puts it not too long after the Babylonian exile, in the time of Xerxes, doesn't it seem strange that the Jews would be spread out all over the Persian empire. If I recall correctly, the majority of the Jews during the early part of the exile lived right around Babylon. Certainly you wouldn't expect them to be in Shushan and all these other far flung places? It is much later that this dispersion of the original Jewish exiles took place. So could it be that this is a true story which happened at a much later time, when the Jews did spread out all over the provinces in the Persian empire?


Blogger Leora said...

I never understood (or understand) why there is so much fuss over the historicity of the Purim story. To me, the important thing is, what do we learn from the story. It still is a good contrast to the Chanukah story, in which Judaism was attacked, as opposed to Jews. I'm still going to have my Purim seudah, deliver shaloch manot, listen to the megillah. And try to find meaning in what I do.

Maybe you can explain to me why if it's not 100% actual factual I should lose some sleep over this?

March 25, 2008 3:56 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Leora, I can't explain to you why you should lose sleep over it. I certainly don't.

In contrast to the events in the Tanach, the historicity of Purim has very little bearing on the theology and practice of Judaism. I suspect that some of the discussion is a knee jerk response to fundamentalists who insist that every bit of the megillah must be true.

March 25, 2008 5:50 AM  
Blogger Leora said...

OK, I'll take that response! Glad to hear you aren't losing sleep over this, too.

March 25, 2008 6:40 AM  

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