The holiday commemorates the events described in the Book of Esther. In the 5th century BC, Persian official Haman got angry with a Jew named Mordechai, who refused to bow down to him, so he decided to kill all the Jews living in Persia. He chose the date for the killing, the 14th of Adar, by casting lots, or פור pur in Hebrew (hence the name of the holiday). The extermination was prevented by Mordechai's daughter Esther, who begged the Persian king to change the tragic decision.