Amalekites | The History of Amalek

The Amalekites were an ancient tribe of nomadic raiders who lived in the Negev desert. They are mentioned frequently in the Old Testament.

Amalek was the son of Eliphaz (son of Esau), had by his concubine Timna (Genesis 36:12). The descendants of this tribal chief from Edom were known as the Amalekites. They settled in the Negev desert and became allies of the Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, Ishmaelites, and Midianites. The Amalekites were Israel’s enemies. Amalek inherited the sibling feud that began with his grandfather Esau’s antagonism against Jacob. Since Jacob was one of Israel’s forefathers, the conflict between Amalek and Israel had a theological and political basis.

The territory of the nomadic Amalekites in the Negev sometimes extended from the south of Beersheba. To the southeast to Elath and Ezion-Geber. The Amalekites raided the coastal plain west, the Arabah wastelands east, and possibly Arabia. In the Negev, they blocked the path of the Israelites during the exodus (Exodus 17: 8-16).

Amalec and Israel during the Exodus

Israel’s first encounter with the “warriors of Amalek” occurred at Rephidim, near Sinai. Moses stood on the top of a hill holding the “staff of God.” Until Israel won the battle; then he built an altar and called it “the LORD is my banner” (Exodus 17: 1; Exodus 17: 8-16). 

The Amalekites attacked the weak who walked last during Israel’s wilderness journeys (Deuteronomy 25: 17-18). After reaching the edge of the promised land. But rejecting the report of Caleb and Joshua. The skeptical and discouraged Israelites attacked the Amalekites. But the Israelites were defeated (Numbers 14: 39-45).

When Balaam was summoned by Balak, king of Moab, to curse Israel. He placed his curse on Moab, and in his final oracle, he predicted the end of the tribe of Amalek (Numbers 24:20). Moses, in his farewell address, reminded the children of Israel that they had been attacked. By the descendants of Amalek and that they had to erase the memory of Amalek. That is, by eliminating all the Amalekites (Deuteronomy 25: 17-19).

Who are the Amalekites?

According to general opinion, the Amalekites— were pagan and wicked people. Against whom the sentence of God had been pronounced for centuries (Deut. 25:17-19) were surely going to eternal torment when they died. While the only chosen Israelites recognized and favored by God had the privilege of being raptured into heaven on their death, except those who voluntarily rejected these unique favors.

All this is false: the Israelites were not elected to heaven when they died. But, according to the unanimous teaching of all the Holy Scriptures, excellent and wicked, all went to the grave. To Hades – Sheol, sometimes translated as hell in the Bibles Ostervald, Martin, and Sacy. But means the grave, the state of death, and never a place of fire, of tortures. And where one would be even slightly aware of one’s condition. Both Israelites and Amalekites were under the same sentence: the punishment of death. 

The Holy Scriptures ignore eternal torment. (Cherished doctrine, if any, of Christian sects) Saint Paul, the author of a good part of the New Testament, wrote to Ephesians (Acts 20: 27). That he announced all the counsel of God, without hiding anything; he does not say a word of a fiery hell, of a place of horrible eternal torment. Or of something which survives death, of a part of man which does not die. On the contrary, the greatest punishment mentioned by Paul is that the incorrigible wicked will have as their punishment eternal destruction. Far from the face of the Lord and the glory of his power. – 2 Thess. 1:9.

Period of Judges

During the judges’ time, the Amalekites continued to occupy their area of ​​origin. They joined the Kenites (1 Samuel 15: 5-6), descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, who settled in the Negev south of Arad (Judges 1:16 ). The Amalekites, still associated with other nomadic tribes (Moabites, Ammonites, Midianites), were gathered by Eglon, king of the Moabites, to defeat Israel and capture the city of palms, namely Jericho (Judges 3: 12-14).

Period of the Monarchy

Saul received God’s command to destroy the Amalekites and all their possessions (1 Samuel 15: 1-3). He defeated them from Avila to Sur, which faced Egypt; he took Agag, king of the Amalekites, alive. And destroyed all the people, passing them to the sword’s edge (1 Samuel 15: 4-8). But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the animals of the second calving, the lambs, and all that was good (1 Samuel 15: 9).

For this disobedience, God sent Samuel to tell him that his kingship was over (1 Samuel 15: 10-31). Samuel then cut Agag into pieces (1 Samuel 15: 32-35). A remnant of Amalekites must have survived, as they again appeared as David’s enemies when he was still a young warrior (1 Samuel 27: 8). He saved his two wives taken away by the Amalekites and killed most of the raiders (1 Samuel 30: 1-20). The destruction of the few surviving Amalekites occurred several hundred years after the time of David, during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (1 Chronicles 4: 40-43).

amalekites in the bible

Representation of the Amalekites in the Bible

Primary Takeaways

The Amalekites are a confederacy of nomadic tribes in the Sinai desert. The Amalekites are known from the Bible as permanent enemies of Israel. The two groups came into conflict during the Hebrews’ stay in northern Sinai, probably over control of the oasis of Kadesh (Exodus, XVII ). We have accounts or simple reminders of the campaigns carried out against them in the time of Saul, who fought them systematically (I Sam., XV ), and of David, on whom they inflicted (I Sam., XXX ) as many raids as those which he had subjected them to (I Sam., XXVII, 8). 

History does not mention them after that, which a double reason can explain: their extreme weakening at the end of the wars of Saul and David and by the occupation of the eastern sector of the northern part of the Sinaitic desert by friends of Israel. An oracle of Balaam (Numbers, XXIV, 20) proclaims the final disappearance of all posterity of Amalec (collective name).


The Amalekites are an ancient population belonging to the region. Which form the southern belt of Palestine and whom the Bible mentions as having frequently been in hostility with the Israelites. There is also mention of the Amalekites as having occupied a territory located in the very center of the land of Canaan. And which had kept their name ( Judges, v, 14 and XII, 15). Among the texts of the Hebrew books which concern them. Some are devoid of guarantees; others, like the one that relates the advantage won over them by Saul and the killing of Agag, are tainted with exaggeration.

On the other hand, we can hold the conflicts they had with David as historic. When the latter resided on the southern border of the Philistine cantons (I, Samuel, ch. XXVIII, and XXX). Several Bible passages express violent hatred towards them (Exodus, XVII, 14 to 16; Deuteronomy, XXV, 17 to 19). Which one claims to justify an attack of which the Israelites would have been the object on the part of the Amalekites in the vicinity of Mount Sinai during their stay in the desert (Exodus, XVII, 8 to 16). This hatred is better explained by the bad relations existing between the more or less sedentary populations of the southern border of the Hebrews. And groups of nomads, coming to operate raids and fleeing quickly with their prizes in the oases of the desert.