March 9, 2009 8:09 pm at 8:09 pm #589580
The Book of Maccabees refers to a certain Feast of Nicanor, which was established on the 13th of Adar. The celebration was decreed to mark the Hasemonean defeat of the Assyrian general, Nicanor, and was observed for nearly two centuries. 1. How could such a feast have ever been decreed if we were already fasting on the 13th of Adar? 2. Why do we no longer celebrate the Feast of Nicanor?March 9, 2009 8:27 pm at 8:27 pm #640720kapustaParticipant
cantor not sure about this but I think the real fast was actually in nissan. dont quote me though 🙂March 9, 2009 9:08 pm at 9:08 pm #640721
kapusta, nothing to do. they only fasted on nissan the first year (the year of the decree) this is some three hundred (plus) years later.
cantoresq, did they always fast taanis esther? it’s not in the megilla.March 9, 2009 9:28 pm at 9:28 pm #640722kapustaParticipant
moish what on earth?!?!?! I didnt read the whole thing, just most of it, so I guess thats were my problem is…
🙂March 9, 2009 9:31 pm at 9:31 pm #640723
Moish01, I’m not sure people really celebrated Purim until after the destruction of the 2nd Temple. I wonder if Chazal instituted Purim, a holiday of questionable historicity and which was not observed, to supplant the Feast of Nicanor in order to play down Hasemonean significance.March 9, 2009 9:41 pm at 9:41 pm #640724
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bechol shana veshana means that they kept purim every year. from then.
don’t know about taanis esther, thoughMarch 11, 2009 1:53 pm at 1:53 pm #640726
taanis esther is a fast that is not one of the typical 4 fasts mentioned in Sefer Zecharia (the fast of the 4th month, 5th month, 7th month and 10th month, also known as 17 tammuz, 9 av, tzom Gedaliah Ben Achikam and Asara Beteves). In fact, the rishonim grapple with how it could even be allowed, as it comes the day before a holiday. But it’s not in the gemara. The Raavad in sefer Ha’eshkol says taanis esther is to prevent people from becoming too drunk on erev purim to be yotzei the megilla. As for the authenticity of purim, Josephus refers to it, and the fact that there are preserved in the apocrypha additions to megillas esther (wikipedia says they were written in 170 bce, the time of nes chanukah) shows that it had a universal acceptance.March 11, 2009 5:14 pm at 5:14 pm #640727
Jothar, what about yerushalayim? they’ve got a whole day in between.March 11, 2009 5:37 pm at 5:37 pm #640728
When the rishonim dealt with the existence of this fast that they discovered, Yerushalayim was long gone. We still have this problem when Purim falls on a Sunday. Again, this is the sefer ha’eshkol. The original fast of Esther was during Pesach, and the megilla mentions no fasting that took place on the 13th, although Jewish warriors tended to fast.March 11, 2009 6:02 pm at 6:02 pm #640729
oh right i forgot. what are the earliest records that mention fasting on yud gimmel adar?March 11, 2009 7:21 pm at 7:21 pm #640730
But what of the Nicanor celebration on the 13th of Adar? I have no doubt that Purim was celebrated in Josephus’ time. I’m also not surprised that as late as the time of the Hasemonean revolt there were variant versions of Esther out there. Such variations do not mean that the holiday was observed at the time. Quite the contrary, that there were variant editions of the text so late into the cannoziation of the TaNaCh, tells me that this was a text not carefully preserved.March 11, 2009 8:42 pm at 8:42 pm #640731
These additions are recognized as additions. They do not fit in to the general text. The gemara in Megilla does analyze if megilas esther is considered holy or not, ie does it contain Ruach hakodesh. But the Purim story is accepted by all as historical. The Septuagint has other additions, and Josephus quotes it, but Purim was an established historical fact. Taanis Esther is the strange one, not Purim. Here is the relevant Josephus quote (antiquiites XI) , showing that Purim was celebrated by all long before rabbinic Judaism became the sole branch to survive the Destruction:
In like manner the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together, and feasted on the fourteenth day, and that which followed it; whence it is that even now all the Jews that are in the habitable earth keep these days festival, and send portions to one another. Mordecai also wrote to the Jews that lived in the kingdom of Artaxerxes to observe these days, and celebrate them as festivals, and to deliver them down to posterity, that this festival might continue for all time to come, and that it might never be buried in oblivion; for since they were about to be destroyed on these days by Haman, they would do a right thing, upon escaping the danger in them, and on them inflicting punishment on their enemies, to observe those days, and give thanks to God on them; for which cause the Jews still keep the forementioned days, and call them days of Phurim [or Purim.] (21) And Mordecai became a great and illustrious person with the king, and assisted him in the government of the people. He also lived with the queen; so that the affairs of the Jews were, by their means, better than they could ever have hoped for. And this was the state of the Jews under the reign of Artaxerxes.March 11, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm #640732
But when did the observance start? Josephus mirrors what the Megilah states. But again, the close juxtaposition of the Nicanor feast to Purim, raises a question.March 12, 2009 12:47 am at 12:47 am #640733
Josephus wasn’t exactly frum. Yet he testifies to the existence of this holiday. if Jews didn’t keep it, he wouldn’t write it.March 12, 2009 4:15 am at 4:15 am #640734
Great Jothar. Now please address my question.March 12, 2009 1:42 pm at 1:42 pm #640735
Cantoresq,Megillas Esther is part of the Mesorah. The books of the Maccabees are NOT. They were written to play up the Hasmonean family. Taanis Esther may be a relatively new observance, but Purim isn’t. Both from a Torah point of view and an irreligious academic point of view, the holiday of Purim is well-established.
The holiday of Nicanor in no way, shape or form contradicts a holiday established much earlier. Heck, even the additions to megilas esther are dated earlier than the hasmonean revolt. Josephus Flavius, the ancient equivalent of a Jew calling himself “Joseph Hitler”, had to admit to Purim’s existence.
Finally, the book of Maccabees upon which your question is based actually says that Nicanor day is the day before Mordechai’s day, aka Purim:
And he hung up Nicanor’s head in the top of the castle, that it might be an evident and manifest sign of the help of God.
And they all ordained by a common decree, by no means to let this day pass without solemnity:
But to celebrate the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, called, in the Syrian language, the day before Mardochias’ day.
So these things being done with relation to Nicanor, and from that time the city being possessed by the Hebrews, I also will here make an end of my narration.
Ad kan. This thread is drifting dangerously close to haskalah.March 15, 2009 3:57 am at 3:57 am #640736
A final addendum to this thread. If you have been skipping this thread until now, please continue to do so.
This was cantoresq’s post from a few days ago:
Moish01, I’m not sure people really celebrated Purim until after the destruction of the 2nd Temple. I wonder if Chazal instituted Purim, a holiday of questionable historicity and which was not observed, to supplant the Feast of Nicanor in order to play down Hasemonean significance.
A quick googling of “Nicanor” and “Purim” revealed that this is old apikorsus spewed long ago by anti-religious historians like Graetz and his ilk. And just like a mafia don in a suit is still a brutal killer at heart, an anti-religious writer like Graetz with the veneer of “academic historian” is still an anti-religious writer. Rav Avigdor Miller ZT”L takes him to task numerous times for making up slurs and canards to suit the anti-religious needs of the haskalah view that rabbinic Judaism has no validity. I am posting this lemaan ha’emes, in case anyone’s mind was confused by the blatant apikorsus expressed in this thread.
1. Purim is NOT of questionable historicity. Tanach is emes le-amito. Books of questionable historicity are not part of Tanach. Any doubt as to its authenticity is kefira and apikorsus. Ain mikra yotzei midey peshuto.
2.From an academic point of view, (Torah Nation page 40), the fact that Megillas Esther leaves out Hashem’s name completely shows that it was meant for Persian officials. What other book of Tanach has Hashem’s name expunged from it? The later additions were designed to put Hashem’s name back into the megilla, but were not part of the original.
3. When Graetz spewed his vomit over 100 years ago, archaeologists didn’t excavate Susa yet. So it was easy to say it was made up, and that the capital was Persopolis not Susa. Now they have. This is from a plaque in Darius’s palace in Susa(notice the striking similarities to the abbreviated description in the megilla, and notice Susa WAS inhabited):
This palace which I built at Susa, from afar its ornamentation was brought. Downward the earth was dug, until I reached rock in the earth. When the excavation had been made, then rubble was packed down, some 40 cubits in depth, another part 20 cubits in depth. On that rubble the palace was constructed.
And that the earth was dug downward, and that the rubble was packed down, and that the sun-dried brick was molded, the Babylonian people performed these tasks.
The gold was brought from Lydia and from Bactria, which here was wrought. The precious stone lapis lazuli and carnelian which was wrought here, this was brought from Sogdia. The precious stone turquoise, this was brought from Chorasmia, which was wrought here.
The goldsmiths who wrought the gold, those were Medes and Egyptians. The men who wrought the wood, those were Lydians and Egyptians. The men who wrought the baked brick, those were Babylonians. The men who adorned the wall, those were Medes and Egyptians.
Darius the King says: At Susa a very excellent work was ordered, a very excellent work was brought to completion.
4. Hendin’s Guide to Ancient Jewish Coins has a few coins clearly done in Persian style. One is labeled “Yechezkia the Pecha (aka Persian governor). clearly the jews were subservient to Persia.
5. Jerusalem had a “Shushan” gate, clearly showing a subservience to Persia.
6. There were many other Jewish sects at the time during the Second temple. If there was an alternative history, Josephus (who doesn’t toe the Rabbinic Judaism line) would have mentioned it, or one of the dead sea scrolls. none of them mention it.
7. Maseches Sofrim (found in the same gemara as Avodah Zarah for those who want to look it up at home) chapter 17 says that Taanis Esther is observed as a Monday-Thursday-Monday fast. However, “Our rabbis in Eretz Yisroel observe Taanis esther after Purim due to Nicanor Day”. The small masechtos were authored by the Savoraim in the 600’s. So this is hundreds of years after Nicanor Day, it’s still being celebrated, and they work it out to not interfere with Taanis Esther. No such conflation of Nicanor and Purim. No such hiding of the Hasmonean successes. No conflict between Taanis Esther and Nicanor day- they worked it out.
8. Finally, as posted earlier, Maccabees II mentions quite clearly that Purim and Nicanor day were separate holidays.
As is quite evident, Graetz’s kefira about Purim has no basis, neither from a Torah perspective nor from an academic perspective.
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