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In the Purim timeline, we can see a series of beneficial events:

  1. the King couldn't sleep and remembered Mordechai (the turn of the story)

  2. Hanging of Haman with his sons and Appointing of Mordechai for the - vice - the culmination of the story

  3. the final fighting in the capital and in the country

As for every festival, we celebrate the climax of that event, even if it lasted some time, e.g. on Pesach, we hold the seder on the first night and not on the last when the Egyptians were defeated.

I feel that #2 is the culmination of the Purim story and the rest is pretty much self evident. Kaballically wise, I'd say that the biggest Orot and G-d's benevolence would happen on that day of the 17th of Nissan.

Moreover, that is the day of the true survival of the Jewish nation, with Mordechai in charge there could be some casualties on Adar 13th but no extermination was possible.

So why did the Sages set this day for the festival?

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    That's what Esther thought too. And then the king said, no you can't undo my previous order. Trouble! – Double AA Mar 20 at 16:52
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As I explain in my answer the Jews were still scheduled to be murdered (without any penalty) on 13 Adar. Thus, the final redemption did not occur until after the fighting was over, Thus we celebrate the day after the fighting, especially since the Jews had no casualties.

  • With Mordechay #2 running the Haman's house (similar to Yossef running Egypt) I seriously doubt if the lives of the Jews were in danger. You might claim this if Mordechay was left unemployed and Ester out of the palace, but in the new constellation that sounds totally improbable. Don't you agree? – Al Berko Mar 20 at 17:42
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    @AlBerko not necessarily. Only Mordechai and Esther were safe. As per the original decree, the Persian authorities would have been forbidden to do anything to the attackers who would have killed the Jews. We indeed see that there were still people who attacked the Jews even after Mordechai gave them permission to defend themselves and kill their attackers. – sabbahillel Mar 20 at 18:30
  • So we should celebrate when the decree that the Jews can protect themselves was decreed – Lo ani Mar 21 at 9:46
  • No we celebrate after the Jews successfully defended themselves as we do now. The decree to allow them to defend themselves was not the end. Just as we celebrate Pesach and Chanukah @Loani – sabbahillel Mar 21 at 11:32
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While it is true that Pharoah later regretted letting the Hebrews leave on the 15th of Nissan, this was indeed the day that the exile of Egypt ended, and that seems to be what the seder night commemorates, i.e. the Exodus. Indeed, the final destruction of the subjugation of the Hebrews to the Egyptians is also commemorated on the 21st of Nissan. As such, it seems it is the end of subjugation and the finality of redemption that is typically celebrated according to both biblical and rabbinic/traditional norms.

It would after all be odd to celebrate a day when fighting was ongoing and there was a continued threat of Judean suffering, subjugation, and/or annihilation. We thus find that the 25th of Kislev was chosen as the day to commemorate the victory over the Syrian-Greeks, when there a day of rest from the fighting (see, e.g., the Tur explaining why it is called Chanuka).

Likewise, the Megilla itself explains the appropriate days for commemorating the salvation from Haman's machinations:

וַיִּֽקָּהֲל֞וּ היהודיים [הַיְּהוּדִ֣ים] אֲשֶׁר־בְּשׁוּשָׁ֗ן גַּ֠ם בְּי֣וֹם אַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֔ר וַיַּֽהַרְג֣וּ בְשׁוּשָׁ֔ן שְׁלֹ֥שׁ מֵא֖וֹת אִ֑ישׁ וּבַ֨בִּזָּ֔ה לֹ֥א שָׁלְח֖וּ אֶת־יָדָֽם׃

and the Jews in Shushan mustered again on the fourteenth day of Adar and slew three hundred men in Shushan. But they did not lay hands on the spoil.

וּשְׁאָ֣ר הַיְּהוּדִ֡ים אֲשֶׁר֩ בִּמְדִינ֨וֹת הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ נִקְהֲל֣וּ ׀ וְעָמֹ֣ד עַל־נַפְשָׁ֗ם וְנ֙וֹחַ֙ מֵאֹ֣יְבֵיהֶ֔ם וְהָרֹג֙ בְּשֹׂ֣נְאֵיהֶ֔ם חֲמִשָּׁ֥ה וְשִׁבְעִ֖ים אָ֑לֶף וּבַ֨בִּזָּ֔ה לֹ֥א שָֽׁלְח֖וּ אֶת־יָדָֽם׃

The rest of the Jews, those in the king’s provinces, likewise mustered and fought for their lives. They disposed of their enemies, killing seventy-five thousand of their foes; but they did not lay hands on the spoil.

בְּיוֹם־שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה עָשָׂ֖ר לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֑ר וְנ֗וֹחַ בְּאַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ בּ֔וֹ וְעָשֹׂ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ י֖וֹם מִשְׁתֶּ֥ה וְשִׂמְחָֽה׃

That was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar; and they rested on the fourteenth day and made it a day of feasting and merrymaking. (

והיהודיים [וְהַיְּהוּדִ֣ים] אֲשֶׁר־בְּשׁוּשָׁ֗ן נִקְהֲלוּ֙ בִּשְׁלֹשָׁ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ בּ֔וֹ וּבְאַרְבָּעָ֥ה עָשָׂ֖ר בּ֑וֹ וְנ֗וֹחַ בַּחֲמִשָּׁ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ בּ֔וֹ וְעָשֹׂ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ י֖וֹם מִשְׁתֶּ֥ה וְשִׂמְחָֽה׃

But the Jews in Shushan mustered on both the thirteenth and fourteenth days, and so rested on the fifteenth, and made it a day of feasting and merrymaking.)

עַל־כֵּ֞ן הַיְּהוּדִ֣ים הפרוזים [הַפְּרָזִ֗ים] הַיֹּשְׁבִים֮ בְּעָרֵ֣י הַפְּרָזוֹת֒ עֹשִׂ֗ים אֵ֠ת י֣וֹם אַרְבָּעָ֤ה עָשָׂר֙ לְחֹ֣דֶשׁ אֲדָ֔ר שִׂמְחָ֥ה וּמִשְׁתֶּ֖ה וְי֣וֹם ט֑וֹב וּמִשְׁל֥וֹחַ מָנ֖וֹת אִ֥ישׁ לְרֵעֵֽהוּ׃ (פ)

That is why village Jews, who live in unwalled towns, observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and make it a day of merrymaking and feasting, and as a holiday and an occasion for sending gifts to one another.

Ultimately, Haman was an individual. The Judean people were threatened by their myriad enemies and the unrepealed decree of Ahasuerus enabling their destruction. Till they emerged victorious, there likely remained uncertainty and anxiety regarding what would be the ultimate outcome. Perhaps that itself is commemorated by the fast of the 13th.

(For a somewhat related question, see here.)

  • While I appreciate your effort, this looks like your answer just begs the question - after they set the 15th we justify it aposteriori. But I think if I was one of the Sages - what would be the culmination of the story - definitely the 17th of Nissan. The Jewish queen, the Jewish vice, what else can be dreamt of? That's when Hashem kicked in! That's the part of the Meggilah when everybody sighs and calms down. But you talk about the physical, what about the "Heavenly Orot"? When did they appear? – Al Berko Mar 20 at 18:37
  • That there were Judeans in government was certainly a good omen; but without the decree withdrawn, and with the standing threat of a genocidal war (and indeed the actual war itself), it would make little sense to celebrate a state of vulnerability. - יכול מראש חודש? As far as your kabalistic references/questions, I'm not a kabalist, so I don't really understand your question. – Loewian Mar 20 at 19:27

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