Of Purim & Priests
A major theme in both the story of Purim and this week’s parsha is clothing. At the start of the Purim story, King Achashverosh throws an elaborate banquet with elaborate furnishings, opulent draperies, golden cups and silver couches. He orders his queen, Vashti, to appear before the court in her royal turban. Our Sages have interpreted this to mean that she was ordered to show up in nothing but the turban. They also say that the King was dressed in the garments of the Kohen Gadol, that Nebuchadnezzer captured from the Temple.
The King later decides to honor Mordechai for saving his life from assassins and has Haman parade him around the city in royal attire; much to Haman’s horror and rage.
When Mordechai finds out Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews he dresses in sackcloth to mourn. Esther sends him clothes but he refuses to put them on. He tells her what has happened and encourages her to intercede with the king. She commands all of the Jews to fast for 3 days with her. At the end of the three days, she gets up from her fasting, dresses in her royal attire, and goes before the king. She wins his favor and saves the people.
Haman, the villain of this story, is by tradition descended from the Amalekites. I mentioned in last week’s sermon that the Amalekites have become symbolic of all the forces of evil that array themselves against God and seek the destruction of His people, Israel. Queen Esther rises up against this destructive force and defeats it.
I think we can see Esther as a prefigurement of Yeshua. Like her, he rises up in obedience to the Father and stands alone against the forces of darkness and destruction. She was willing to die for the chance to save her people, he actually did die for the sins of Israel and the whole world. But just like Esther, after three days, Yeshua puts on his resurrected and glorified body, in other words, his royal attire, and comes before the King of Kings. He pleads for the salvation of his people just as she did. But unlike Esther he comes confidently before the King, knowing that he has indeed found favor in his Father’s eyes because of his obedience to the point of death.
Our parsha spends a fair amount of time describing the priestly vestments. All priests wore four items;
Mich-na-sa-yim: linen pants
Ke-to-net: linen tunic
Av-net: sash, worn around the waist
Mitz-ne-fet: a turban
These vestments were fairly plain for the priests, but more elaborate for the kohen gadol. The Kohen Gadol wore four additional garments;
Me-il: a sleeveless robe that went on top of the tunic. It had bells and pomegranates as a fringe.
Ay-fod: An ornate vest with two onyx gemstones on the shoulders on which were inscribed the 12 tribes of Israel
Cho-shen: breastplate with 12 gemstones, each containing a name of a tribe
Tzitz: a golden plate on which was inscribed “Holy unto Adonai”. This was suspended on the front of the turban.
These priestly vestments too point towards Yeshua. He is our heavenly kohen gadol, arrayed in heavenly priestly garments. The priests’ vestments were consecrated with the sprinkling of ram’s blood upon them. Yeshua’s are sprinkled with his own blood. What’s more, the Kohen Gadol wore 8 garments. This is significant because the number 8 is symbolic of Olam Ha-Ba, the World To Come. The number 7 points to this world, 8 to the world beyond. The kohen gadol was not merely serving in the Temple offering sacrifices and bringing atonement to the people and the Temple, but he was living in the “8th day”. Yeshua, as our high priest who is also our sacrifice, was resurrected by his Father and lives in the 8th day. He is the firstfruit of the resurrection and sits in that reality calling us into it!
As part of the priestly nation, we serve as his priests. We wear the sacred garments of the ordinary priests. Our garments too are consecrated by Yeshua’s sacrificial blood. Our robes have been made white by the Lamb’s blood, as it is stated in Yochanan’s Revelation. Our role is to serve alongside our heavenly kohen gadol, leading people from all nations and tongues into that 8th day existence which we already have a toehold in.
Psalm 104:2 states that Hashem wraps Himself in a garment of light. Our Sages say that this is the supernal light of His holiness. We connect with Him when we robe ourselves in His light through prayer, study, and good deeds.
We can bring our readings from the Megillah and today’s parsha together. If Esther in her royal garments points to Messiah Yeshua in his priestly garments, then Mordechai’s royal attire points to our priestly robes. If we are faithful, at the end of time, we will be dressed in royal robes and given a high position in Hashem’s heavenly court. Mordechai was given this based on his faithfulness and relationship with Esther. We too gain our royal robes through our faithfulness and relationship to Messiah Yeshua. Mordechai used his authority to work for the good of the people; in other words he acted as a priest for the people. We, too, serve others in our priestly capacity.
May we live up to this high calling. May we endeavor to be faithful to our Queen Esther, Messiah Yeshua. And may we use our place in his kingdom to work for the good of all around us. May we daily live consciously in that 8th day reality. And thereby someday merit being dressed in our own heavenly garments.