The Book of Esther takes place in what is modern day Iran, in the court of the Persian king Achashverosh (Ahasuerus). Thus, it comes as no surprise that the burial places of Queen Esther and Mordechai are in Iran. The tombs are located in the western part of the country, in an ancient Iranian city called Hamadan.
The Tomb of Queen Esther and Mordechai is considered the most important pilgrimage site in Iran by the small community of Jews who still live there. In 2019, the Iranian Jewish community numbered approximately 8,000. In 2008, the tombs were declared a World Heritage Site by the government of Iran.
The year before, on Purim of 2007, Exploits Ministry Founder Christine Darg led a group of Christian women to Iran, to the Tomb of Queen Esther and Mordechai, to pray for Israel. “We felt so privileged: everything was clearly marked in Hebrew in the mausoleum of Esther and Mordechai, and we were guided there by a Persian Jew. He had a small Torah scroll.
“Our main mission was to pray for the protection and preservation of Israel because of the death threats coming out of Teheran. We prayed a prayer shield for Israel as we travelled the country in a van with a very congenial guide. Ours was a prayer journey specifically to cancel threats of annihilation against Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“Each of us completed an Esther fast before embarking on this potentially dangerous journey. We were a modern version of Esther’s seven handmaidens,” Darg reported.
The girl pleased him and won his favor, and he hastened to furnish her with her cosmetics and her rations, as well as with the seven maids who were her due from the king’s palace; and he treated her and her maids with special kindness in the harem. Esther 2: 9
Not limiting themselves to prayer, Darg said her group “sent a copy of the Scroll of Esther in the Farsi (Persian) language to former president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.”
For most of the world, Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, which falls in February or March on the Gregorian calendar. This year, the 14th of Adar is on February 26. In cities, such as Jerusalem, that were walled in Joshua’s time, Purim is celebrated a day later. This is known as Shushan Purim.
Darg’s group made a significant journey on that day in 2007. “On Shushan Purim, we visited [modern day] Susa [which is ancient Shushan] and its ruined palace of Ahasuerus, Xerxes I, Queen Esther’s husband. The foundation stones of his throne were overgrown by weeds and wildflowers, but the throne of God endures forever! We also visited the tomb of the prophet Daniel in Susa.
“Before our trip to Iran in 2007, I had enjoyed observing Purim with Israeli friends, but this journey was a revelation— a turning point. For me, Purim became a time worthy of worship and celebration as any other biblical holiday on the calendar,” Darg noted.
A Watchman For Israel
Darg described how a famous passage from the Book of Esther changed her life.
“In 1980, while I was fasting and praying for direction, I experienced a supernatural dream in which the God of Israel called me to be a watchman and intercessor for Israel. A passage from Esther became a permanent living Word for me,” she shared.
Mordechai had this message delivered to Esther: “Do not imagine that you, of all the Yehudim, will escape with your life by being in the king’s palace.
On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Yehudim from another quarter, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis.”
Then Esther sent back this answer to Mordechai:
“Go, assemble all the Yehudim who live in Shushan, and fast in my behalf; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens will observe the same fast. Then I shall go to the king, though it is contrary to the law; and if I am to perish, I shall perish!” Esther 4:13-16
Purim for Christians
Israel365 News asked Darg to address herself to the message Purim has for Christians. She replied, “Purim speaks to us on many levels. Principally it proclaims the sovereignty of God and hester panim, the hidden face of God, assuring us that the Almighty does always work behind the scenes. Purim gives us an opportunity to remember and celebrate that God overturns wickedness. Evil men fall into the pit they dig for the righteous.
“Purim should be celebrated by Christians to remember another of God’s great deliverances of his ancient people. In our churches or house groups, Christians should celebrate Purim and understand the meaning of the Feast of Lots.
Lots are cast into the lap; The decision depends on Hashem. Proverbs 16:33
“Therefore, Purim should be a time of worship for every Bible believer. We should rejoice that the God of Israel always triumphs over evil!
“Additionally, it is appropriate for Christians to celebrate Purim in Sunday Schools and home school parties, to teach children this beloved Bible story. Jewish children set a good example by dressing up as Queen Esther, Mordechai, the High Priest or other beautiful and morally uplifting costumes. As a holiday, Purim is wholesome versus the abominable Halloween, which is pagan and should be shunned by Bible-believing Christians.
“The emphasis of Purim (to my mind) is honouring the God of Israel who keeps covenant with His people and who overturns the plans of the wicked,” she concluded.