The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: A

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* Amalek was a grandson of Esau; thus his descendants would be related to the Edomites:
"Esau's son Eliphaz also had a concubine named Timna, who bore him Amalek. These were grandsons of Esau's wife Adah... Korah, Gatam and Amalek... the chiefs descended from Eliphaz in Edom" (Gen 36:12,16).
* Probably an earlier reference to the Amalekites was simply a reference to the country which they later inhabited, since of course they did not exist as a nation at all during the time of Abraham:
"Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar" (Gen 14:7).
* Amalek was a nomadic nation dwelling in the Sinai Peninsula:
"The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan" (Num 13:29).

"Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt" (1Sa 15:7).
* Amalek was the first tribe to fight against Israel after they left Egypt with Moses:
"The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, 'Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.' So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning... Aaron and Hur held his hands up -- one on one side, one on the other -- so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.' Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, 'For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation' " (Exo 17:8-16).
* For its bitter and implacable hatred of Israel, Amalek was absolutely cursed by God:
"Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!" (Deu 25:17-19).
* At later times, the Amalekites allied themselves with various other enemies of Israel, including the Canaanites...
"Early the next morning they went up toward the high hill country. 'We have sinned,' they said. 'We will go up to the place the LORD promised.' But Moses said, 'Why are you disobeying the LORD's command? This will not succeed! Do not go up, because the LORD is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, for the Amalekites and Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the LORD, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.' Nevertheless, in their presumption they went up toward the high hill country, though neither Moses nor the ark of the LORD'S covenant moved from the camp. Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah" (Num 14:40-45).
... and the Moabites...
"Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon [king of Moab] came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms [Jericho]" (Jdg 3:13).
... and the Midianites:

"Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country" (Jdg 6:1-3).
Were the Amalekites afraid to take on Israel single-handed?

* King Saul was commanded to destroy the Amalekites utterly.
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys' " (1Sa 15:2,3).
Although he destroyed most of them, some remained alive.
"Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Gag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword" (vv 7,8).
Saul had intended to keep alive Gag their king, but Samuel slew him:
"Then Samuel said, 'Bring me Gag king of the Amalekites.' Gag came to him confidently, thinking, 'Surely the bitterness of death is past.' But Samuel said, 'As your sword has made women childless, so will your mother be childless among women.' And Samuel put Agag to death before the LORD at Gilgal" (1Sa 15:32,33).
The AV has: "Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD." Samuel -- in his role as "priest", and bent on total obedience to God's directive -- cut him up in pieces like a whole burnt offering for the altar!

Apparent Contradictions?

  1. Amalek was "utterly destroyed" by Saul (1Sa 15:21), but some remained to David's day (1Sa 27:8,9).
  2. David left none of the Amalekites alive (1Sa 27:8,9), but some remained a bit later (1Sa 30:1,2). And a handful remained even later yet (1Sa 30:17,18).
  3. The last remnants of Amalek were completely destroyed in the days of Hezekiah, 250 years later (1Ch 4:41-43).
  4. ... OR WERE THEY? The great enemy of Israel in Esther's day (250 years later again) was Haman "the Agagite" (Est 3:1,10; 8:3,5; 9:24 -- cp "Agag" king of the Amalekites: 1Sa 15).

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