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Purim and the Persian Empire

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Purim and the Persian Empire

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Purim and the Persian Empire
A Historical, Archaeological, & Geographical Perspective
By Rabbi Yehuda Landy
Feldheim Publishers, (2010)
ISBN: 978-1-59826-519-4

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - February 18, 2010

Purim - it is a time to party, to wear costumes, and to have a good time. However, it is also much more. Purim celebrates an important moment in Jewish history and you may think that you know all there is to know about the Purim story. However after reading Purim and the Persian Empire, you'll find that there is much more to the story than you ever imagined. In this book, Rabbi Yehuda Landy, a talmid chacham and expert on Biblical geography and archaeology, explores the Purim story as never before. In this book he looks at not only the history surrounding the Purim story, but also the archaeological evidence supporting the information provided in the Megillas Esther. Geographical details and aspect of everyday life and culture in the Persian Empire enliven this history of the Purim story.

As the author states, "The purpose of this book is not to authenticate the Megillah... or to resolve any halachic issues." Rather, "It is meant as a tool for understanding and visualizing the events of the Megillah." (Pg x.) To that end, within the course of the book, Landy answers many questions, such as who was the real Achashverosh? Why were the royal decrees written in several languages instead of just one? What was life really like in the Shushan palace? The answers to these questions, combined with the historical and geographical details about the Persian Empire will help you to envision the events detailed in the Megillas Esther. As well, Landy has interwoven a host of biblical sources that expand not only upon the Megillas Esther, but also our knowledge of the Persian Empire and Jewish history during this period.

Purim and the Persian Empire is a gorgeously illustrated book that contains full color spreads of archaeological sites, material remains, such as jewelry, tableware, and statuary, as well as inscriptions, architectural remains, and maps of the Persian Empire. In addition, the complete text of the Megillah (Book of Esther) in both Hebrew and English, has been included. As Landy introduces you to the key figures in the Purim story, from Mordechai, Esther, Achashverosh, and Haman, you can follow along with the Biblical text, giving you a unique and unprecedented understanding of the Megillah.

The Purim story comes vividly to life within the pages of Purim and the Persian Empire. This book will not only increase your understanding and appreciation of the eternal message found in the Megillah Esther, but it will also enhance your celebration of this jocular holiday that commemorates a sober moment in Jewish history that turned miraculous!

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