« Amalarius of Treves Amalek, Amalekites Amalric of Bena »

Amalek, Amalekites

AMALEK, am´ɑ-lek, AMALEKITES, am´-ɑlek-ɑits: A Bedouin people who are somewhat prominent in the older history of Israel. Their territory was the steppes south of the hill-country of Judea and the Sinaitic desert (the modern Tih; Gen. xiv. 7; Ex. xvii. 8; Num. xiii. 29, xiv, 25, 43, 45; I Sam. xv. 4-7, xxvii. 8). From Judges v. 14 and xii. 15 it has been conjectured that they once dwelt in Palestine and were gradually driven to the south. Neither the Old Testament nor extra-Biblical sources give satisfactory information concerning their ethnographical relations (cf. Nöldeke, Ueber die Amalekiter und einige andere Nachbarvölker der Israeliten, Göttingen, 1864). Israel is said to have gained a great victory over them at Rephidim while on the way to the promised land, and Yahweh then commanded the extirpation of this people (Ex. xvii. 8-16; cf. Deut. xxv. 17-19; I Sam. xv. 2-3). Again when certain of the Israelites attempted, against Yahweh’s command, to enter Canaan from Kadesh, they fell into the hands of the Amalekites (Num. xiv. 45). In post-Mosaic time the Kenites lived in the southern part of the wilderness of Judah among nomad Amalekites (Judges i. 16, LXX.). They are said to have made forays against Israel in the narratives of Ehud and Gideon (Judges iii. 13, vi. 3, 33, vii. 12), but it is doubtful if Amalekites were expressly named in the sources from which these narratives are drawn. At Samuel’s command Saul made war upon them and gained a great victory; because he did not carry out the injunction to destroy them utterly he was rejected by the prophet (I Sam. xv.). Their king, Agag, is here named, and their sheep, oxen, and other possessions are mentioned, as well as a “city of Amalek,” which is not referred to elsewhere. David attacked them after they had made a raid upon Ziklag, and only those who had camels escaped (I Sam. xxx.). Thenceforth the Amalekites disappear from history except for the notice, in I Chron. iv. 42, that a band of Simeonites (probably in the time of Hezekiah) exterminated the last remnant of them, dwelling on Mont Seir. That Haman is called an Agagite in Esther iii. 1 (“an Amalekite,” Josephus, Ant., XI. vi. 5) has no significance, owing to the character of the book.

(F. Buhl).

Bibliography: A. Dillmann, Commentary on Genesis, on chaps. x. and xxxvi., 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1897 (best); T. Nöldeke, Ueber die Amalekiter und einige andere Nachbarvölker der Israeliten; Göttingen, 1864; A. H. Sayce, Races of the Old Testament, London, 1891; DB, i. 77-78; EB, i. 128-131.

« Amalarius of Treves Amalek, Amalekites Amalric of Bena »
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