|Written instructions were dispatched by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, massacre, and exterminate all the Yehudim, young and old, children and women, on a single day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month—that is, the month of Adar.Esther 3:13 (The Israel Bible™)
וְנִשְׁלוֹחַ סְפָרִים בְּיַד הָרָצִים אֶל־כָּל־מְדִינוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ לְהַשְׁמִיד לַהֲרֹג וּלְאַבֵּד אֶת־כָּל־הַיְּהוּדִים מִנַּעַר וְעַד־זָקֵן טַף וְנָשִׁים בְּיוֹם אֶחָד בִּשְׁלוֹשָׁה עָשָׂר לְחֹדֶשׁ שְׁנֵים־עָשָׂר הוּא־חֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר
Hear the verse in Hebrew
v’-nish-LO-akh s’-fa-REEM b’-YAD ha-ra-TZEEM el kol m’-dee-NOT ha-ME-lekh l’-hash-MEED la-ha-ROG ul-a-BAYD et kol ha-y’-hu-DEEM mi-NA-ar v’-AD za-KAYN taf v’-na-SHEEM b’-YOM e-KHAD bish-lo-SHAH a-SAR l’-KHO-desh sh’-NAYM a-SAR hu KHO-desh a-DAR
Usually, the Torah (Bible) provides a reason as to why an individual, or the nation as a whole, are punished. Megillat Esther (The Scroll of Esther), however, does not explicitly state what the people did to deserve the threat of annihilation. When viewed in historical context, it becomes clear that the Jews of Shushan, Persia were guilty of not having returned to the Land of Israel when they had the opportunity to do so. After the Persian king, Cyrus, conquered the Babylonians, he allowed the Children of Israel to return to the Land of Israel and begin reconstruction of the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple). However, a mere 42,360 returned to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) (Ezra 2:64), while close to a million Jews chose to remain in Babylonia. Their generation was therefore punished for its lack of enthusiasm towards returning to Israel, teaching us the importance of making every effort to embrace the land and to physically return to it whenever possible. Pictured above are ancient ruins in Shivta National Park, which even back then, stood waiting for the exiled Jews to return home.