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Destroying the Amalekites Pt.1

“Therefore when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies roundabout in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under the heavens; you must not forget,”

(Deu 25:19 AMPC).

Why did God set a command to completely wipe out an entire nation? Of all the enemies that the Israelites faced in battle, the Amalekites were so reprehensible that God set a command that all generations were to be destroyed. The nature of the Amalekites goes far beyond a nation that despised Israel and waged war with them. The spiritual understanding of the Amalekites will show us the importance as to why this mitzvah (commandment) was to be passed down through all the generations and remembered eternally.  

“And the Lord said to Moses, Write this for a memorial in the book and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under the heavens,”

(Exo 17:14 AMPC). 

When the prophet Samuel spoke to king Saul, Saul was instructed to smite all the Amalekites. He was given orders to destroy and not spare anyone, including women, children, and the animals (1 Sam 15:3). However, Saul spared the life of the Amalekite king, Agag, and the choice of his livestock. Due to his disobedience, this would be a near costly mistake for Israel later in the book of Esther. We often have a tendency to gloss over these scriptures, or we begin thinking that God was angry and vengeful in the Old Testament while the New Testament Jesus is all about love. God never changes, so that simply cannot be true. We need to see the deeper meaning in the Word to get a better understanding of why God would have made such a commandment. Who were these Amalekites that God abhorred so much?

Amalek was the son of Eliphaz and Timna, grandson of Esau. His name means “dweller in a valley” [1].

The Israelites had just come out of Egypt after Moses brought the plagues. They had safely crossed the Red Sea while Pharaoh and his mighty army were destroyed, leaving no doubt that God was leading and protecting them as they journeyed to the promised land. Their first stop was a place called Rephidim or “resting place” [2]. It is here that they began to murmur and complain to Moses because there was no water to drink. So, Moses was commanded to strike the rock at Horeb and water flowed out. 

“He called the place Massah [proof] and Meribah [contention] because of the fault finding of the Israelites and because they tempted and tried the patience of the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not?”

(Exo 17:7 AMPC).

As soon as the Israelites began to question if God was with them, the Amalekites came and attacked. Despite all the miracles the Hebrews had just witnessed in Egypt (the protection from harm as they made their exodus), they complained and questioned God. There was a spirit of doubt that was lurking among them and they were open to attack from the Amalekites.

Rabbi Yosef Yitchak of Lubavitch says,

“The numerical value (gematria) of the Hebrew word amalek is 240, the same as that of the word safek, ‘doubt.’” He continues by saying,

“All things holy are certain and absolute. Torah is absolute, the mitzvot are absolute, divine providence is absolute. Amalek is doubt. Baseless, irrational doubt that cools the fervor of holiness with nothing more than a cynical shrug.” [3]

Deuteronomy says the Amalekites did not fear God and therefore attacked Israel from behind when they were faint and weary, cutting off the stragglers (Deu 25:18). It’s important to note that the Amalekites struck Israel from behind. This wasn’t just because they were an evil nation and wanted a sneak attack, it has an important symbolic meaning. In Hebrew thought, what lies ahead of someone is their past because it can be seen. What lies behind someone is considered the future because it is unseen. The Amalekites wanted to destroy the future of Israel by bringing in doubt. Nothing cripples the future faster than a mind and attitude filled with doubt. If you are constantly questioning or hesitating to move, you’re not going to see success.

The Midrash talks about the Amalekites cooling off the fire of the Iraelites and explains it like this:

“To what is the incident (of Amalek) comparable? To a boiling tub of water which no creature was able to enter. Along came one evildoer and jumped into it. Although he was burned, he cooled it for the others. So, too, when Israel came out of Egypt, and G‑d split the sea before them and drowned the Egyptians within it, the fear of them fell upon all the nations. But when Amalek came and challenged them, although he received his due from them, he cooled the awe of the nations of the world for them.” [4]

The church in Laodicea was rebuked and cast out because they were found to be lukewarm (Rev 3:14). When doubt comes in, it kills the passionate fire we have for God and our desire to live a life of holiness. We settle into a dangerous, lukewarm place thinking God will overlook the sin in our life. Doubt leads people to believe in a ‘false grace’ or ‘once saved always saved’ theology, instead of leading a life dedicated to working out salvation. The spirit of doubt was there in the beginning when the serpent said, ‘Did God really say?’. Why were the Amalekites set out to destroy Israel?

Amalek was the grandson of Esau, twin brother of Jacob. Under Jewish custom, Esau was the firstborn and should have received the blessing from the father, Isaac; however, scripture says he sold his inheritance and it was Jacob who received the blessing. We know that later, Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord to be given the name Israel.

Every name speaks of character and function; Israel isn’t just a nation, but means “he will rule as God” [5].

We are all meant to become spiritual Israel. Paul says we are Jews inwardly if we have had a circumcision of the heart (Rom 2:29). While Galatians 3:29 tells us if we are Christ’s then we are of “Abraham’s seed” and “heirs according to the promise”.

Justin Martyr, an early church father said,

“As, therefore, Christ is the Israel and the Jacob, even so we, who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ, are the true Israelitic race” [6].

It wasn’t about Esau being angry with Jacob (Israel) over losing his inheritance, rather it is a deeper and spiritual issue. These are people who have a mindset that want to stop those who will “rule as God”. The spirit of Amalek mocks anyone seeking God’s essence; doing so with doubt and a cynical view of God’s truth. They have every ability to know God’s Word, but consistently reject and oppose it. The Amalekites were formidable enemies, not because of their continual attacks on Israel, but their desire to destroy the promises of those who hunger for God’s holy and righteous nature. 

Now we understand why the Lord made an oath that He would have war against [the people of] Amalek from generation to generation, and blot out their remembrance from under heaven. It’s not a matter of destroying the physical descendants of Amalek, but rather searching ourselves to see if those spirits are within. If we don’t get rid of the ‘giants’ in the land, we’ll never receive our inheritance. If you are battling the Amalekites in your land, and want to see victory, stay tuned for part two of this series. 

References:

  1. Brown Driver Briggs Dictionary H6002
  2. Brown Driver Briggs Dictionary H7508
  3. https://www.meaningfullife.com/amaleks-number
  4. https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/2283/jewish/Amalek.htm
  5. Strong’s Bible Concordance H3478
  6. Justin Martyr- Dialogue with Trypho, Ante-Nicene Father Vol 1 Ch CXXXV


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