King Achashverosh now had every reason to be proud of his Queen Esther, for he had learned that she was a descendant of the royal family of Saul, the first King of the Jews. When the King heard that Mordechai was a descendant of the same noble family, and in fact was Queen Esther's cousin, he immediately appointed him to succeed Haman as Prime Minister.

Achashverosh presented Haman's palatial house to Esther, and the royal signet, which he had taken from Haman he gave to Mordechai.

Although Mordechai and Esther were deeply grateful to the King for his favors, and could feel safe under the King's own protection, they did not for a minute lose sight of the danger that still faced their people. Haman's cruel decree was still unchanged, and unless it was withdrawn in time, the Jews would be lost.

Esther, therefore, again beseeched the King in behalf of her doomed brethren. She fell at his feet and with tears in her eyes pleaded with the King to avert the terrible fate that threatened them.

"How can I endure to see the evil that will come unto my people? How can I endure to witness the destruction of my kindred?" Esther cried in anguish.

The King was deeply moved, and he wanted to allay her grief. Unfortunately, it was not so easy to rescind the decree, for it was sent out by order of the King, in his name, bearing the King's own seal. Such a decree was irrevocable.

Finally, a plan was hit upon. A new decree was to be issued in the name of the King, declaring that Haman had abused the King's confidence by issuing falsified decrees. Instead of issuing decrees to do away with the persecution of the Jews throughout the vast Persian empire, as was the King's intention and desire, the treacherous Haman had ordered the extermination of the loyal Jewish subjects! A further proof of the King's displeasure with Haman was the fact that Haman had been executed by the King's express command.

Once again the King's scribes were called, and the new decrees were prepared, this time dictated by Mordechai himself. The documents were immediately dispatched by royal couriers riding on swift steeds to all the governors and princes of the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire, from India to Ethiopia. By these royal decrees, permission was granted to the Jews to gather on the thirteenth day of Adar and defend themselves against their enemies, and to attack and slay all those who would assault them.

The news of the great salvation of the Jews spread like lightning to the remotest comers of the Persian Empire, and the Jews were now treated with respect.

When the thirteenth day of Adar arrived, the day on which the Jews were to be slain and exterminated by Haman and his evil forces, the Jews gathered in the public places of each town and hamlet. By order of the King, they sentenced to death all those who had revealed themselves as enemies. Throughout the kingdom of Persia, seventy five thousand would-be murderers were executed, and five hundred more in Shushan. All ten sons of Haman were likewise executed.

The King brought the news to Esther. "I have but one more request to make," she said. "There are still many dangerous enemies at large in Shushan. They must be executed or there can be no peace in the land. Let tomorrow also be set aside for a day of judgment in Shushan over the enemies of our people who are also the enemies of all mankind. And may the bodies of Haman's ten sons be hanged on the gallows."

Esther's request was immediately granted.

And so while the Jews outside Shushan celebrated their victory on the fourteenth of Adar, the Jews of Shushan were still grimly engaged that day in the task of ridding the city of the villains and murderers. Only on the following day did they celebrate the great and miraculous salvation.

Mordechai, now dressed in magnificent royal robes, became the King's viceroy and closest advisor. He served the King and his own people with humility and devotion.

From that time, the fourteenth day of Adar was consecrated as the festival of Purim, to commemorate the great miracle of our people's salvation, and the downfall of the wicked Haman.

And the Jews who lived in walled cities, like Shushan, consecrated the fifteenth day of Adar as the day of festivity. This day we now call "Shushan Purim."

The name "Purim," means "lots," in commemoration of the lots that Haman had cast to choose the day most suitable for the destruction of the Jews.

In Heaven, too, these two days were consecrated as everlasting festivals, which shall never be abolished. For the Jewish people they are to be days of feasting and gladness, and of sending gifts of food (mishloach manot) to one another, and of giving gifts to the poor (matanot 1'evyonim).

At the same time the Jews obligated themselves to observe, every year, the Fast of Esther, on the thirteenth day of Adar, the day before Purim, to commemorate the fasts and prayers of the Jews in those days, and to emulate their repentance and devout worship.

The story of Purim was recorded by Mordechai and Esther in the Book of Esther (Megillat Esther), which forms part of Torah, and which is read in the synagogue every year on the eve of Purim and again on the following morning.

The Festival of Purim has now been celebrated for twenty three centuries, year after year, generation after generation. To the enemies of the Jewish People, the Hamans of all ages, the festival of Purim is a solemn and timely warning. But to us this wonderful and happy festival serves as an undying inspiration of courage and faith, of loyalty and devotion to our great and merciful G‑d. It is the herald of our certain and miraculous salvation which is not far off.