Jack Silver

“They cast pur, that is the lot, before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar” (Esther 3:7). With a cast of the lot, a date for the murder of the Jews in the Persian empire was chosen and their fate apparently sealed.

Numerous devices were used in the ancient Near East to help determine a course of action. The 1-inch cube shown here is a replica of a ninth-century B.C.E. Assyrian clay lot known as a pur. Because the date chosen by Haman and his cronies for the annihiliation of the Jews became a day of Jewish triumph instead, the holiday commemorating the event was named Purim.