The Destruction Of The Amalekites – Part 6/6

Conclusion

The accusation of dawah team against the Bible regarding the destruction of Amalek is invalid. What YHWH did in commanding the extirpation of the Amalekites was a judgment upon a vicious gang of murderous enslavers. This was no ethnic or religious pogrom or genocide, like the IS massacres of Alawites and Shia; rather, it was the punishment of a violent robbery gang, engaged in slave-raiding.

Just as popular opinion across the world was revolted by the massacres of innocent people and organised rape of Yezidi girls by IS such that they demanded the destruction of such a malicious entity, the same was true of Amalek. Also, the contrast between the Hadith and the Bible on the issue of massacre is clear. The Bible records the command to destroy a gang of incorrigible thugs, not innocent civilians.

The Destruction Of The Amalekites – Part 5/6

The Judgment of YHWH Upon the Amalekites

The previous point brings us back to what we previously stated – the Amalekites were incorrigible and unassimilable – even when they had opportunity to learn the revelation of YHWH. His ethics never penetrated their inner beings, so callous and murderous was their culture. They had no fear of God. Note how David describes the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 30: 26 When David came to Ziklag, he sent part of the spoil to his friends, the elders of Judah, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of YHWH”’ This is important: the Amalekites were not just the enemies of Judah, but of YHWH Himself. Note that when YHWH through Samuel orders Saul to destroy Amalek (1 Samuel 15), great care is made to separate them from the Kenites, who were innocent – indicating that Amalek were guilty (note v18 – ‘1And YHWH sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’):

Thus says YHWH of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destructionall that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
4 So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

Amalek are described as ‘the sinners’, and as such, are distinguished from the innocent Kenites. The reason for the designation of the Amalekites as ‘sinners’, and thus for their punishment, was their unprovoked attack upon the refugee train of ex-slaves fleeing Egypt after the Exodus. This recalls what YHWH declared in Exodus 17:  14 Then YHWH said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, YHWH Is My Banner, 16 saying, “A hand upon the throne of YHWH! YHWH will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”’

YHWH promised to destroy Amalek in the same way that US Attorneys have vowed to extirpate the Mafia, or the way Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, the USA, Britain, etc. all vowed to wipe IS off the face of the earth, and for the same reason – that IS, like the Amalekites, were a murderous gang that enslaved innocent people and raped innocent girls, just like the UK grooming gangs that raped white and Sikh girls. All right-thinking people in the UK want to see such grooming gangs punished and destroyed. Just like the Cubs of the Caliphate were imbued with the evil murderous and sexually abusive ideology of IS, so ‘the Cubs of Amalek’ were likewise imbued with Amalek’s evil culture of raiding, murdering and enslaving – hence the verdict of YHWH to have ‘war with Amalek from generation to generation’.

Each generation of Amalek was as bad the preceding or subsequent one. In this light, we can understand the command to ‘kill both man and woman, child and infant’. We have seen how even the youngsters of IS committed evil acts, and had IS been left to continue, the Cubs would have become lions who continued their fathers’ practices of mass murder, enslavement and rape, because this was the culture of IS, and to this they were trained. The same was true of Amalek.

This command is repeated in Numbers 14 by Balaam under divine inspiration: ‘20 Then he looked on Amalek and took up his discourse and said, “Amalek was the first among the nations, but its end is utter destruction.”’ Amalek was the first to attack Israel, but it would not continue, as YHWH would obliterate it.

Again, think of the Barbary Corsairs. From the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, they raided the West, as far north as Iceland, as far west as Newfoundland, sometimes stealing whole communities, who were enslaved, with the women repeatedly raped.

Generation after generation it continued, until finally Britain, in the wake of its victory over Napoleon, sent an Anglo-Dutch squadron to Algiers in 1816 which virtually destroyed the city, freed the slaves, and forced North Africa to cease Corsairing. Algiers had to be destroyed, because otherwise the raiding would have continued, as history demonstrated. The fault was that of Algiers, just as the fault in this case was that of Amalek.

In spiritual terms, Amalek were the enemies, not of Judah or Israel as such, but of YHWH. In fact, they were the agents of Satan. The Septuagint of Exodus 17 is significant:

11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.12 But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.
17.11 καὶ ἐγίνετο ὅταν ἐπῆρεν Μωυσῆς τὰς χεῖρας, κατίσχυεν Ἰσραήλ· ὅταν δὲκαθῆκεν τὰς χεῖρας, κατίσχυεν Ἀμαλήκ.
17.12 αἱ δὲ χεῖρες Μωυσῆ βαρεῖαι· καὶ λαβόντες λίθον ὑπέθηκαν ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν, καὶ ἐκάθητο ἐπ αὐτοῦ· καὶ Ἀαρὼν καὶ Ὥρ ἐστήριζον τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ,ἐντεῦθεν εἷς καὶ ἐντεῦθεν εἷς· καὶ ἐγένοντο αἱ χεῖρες Μωυσῆ ἐστηριγμέναι ἕως δυσμῶν ἡλίου. 17.13 καὶ ἐτρέψατο Ἰησοῦς τὸν Ἀμαλὴκ καὶ πάντα τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν φόνῳ μαχαίρας.

This phrase, ἐντεῦθεν εἷς καὶ ἐντεῦθεν εἷςenteuthen eis kai enteuthen eis, is reproduced in John 19:18: ‘There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.’ The Greek is ὅπου αὐτὸν ἐσταύρωσαν, καὶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ἄλλους δύο ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐντεῦθεν, μέσον δὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦν. Note the phrase enteuthen kai enteuthen– and compare it with John 12:31: ‘Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.’ John wants the reader to remember the battle with Amalek.

The Crucifixion is the battle with Satan that destroys his power. This implies that the power behind Amalek was Satan. Amalek’s attack upon the Israelites was demonic in inspiration. Satan is the enemy of YHWH – and Amalek is so-described. The Amalekites were thus the pawns of the Devil, who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). Note that 1 Samuel 15:33 states that the Amalekite king Agag was slain ‘before YHWH’ – not before Israel,because Amalek, as Satan’s instrument, was the enemy of YHWH.

Further evidence of the incorrigible callousness of Amalek is demonstrated in what Agag said to Samuel as the former faced judgment – essentially, ‘well, that’s all past now, we can move on’:

Then Samuel said, “Bring here to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him cheerfully. Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 33 And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before YHWH in Gilgal.

Despite being responsible for mass slaughter, Agag had no sense of the scale of his crimes. Similarly, note how lacking in remorse Shamima Begum has been. Observe how she justified the Manchester massacre – despite it happening in the country in which she was born and to which she wanted to return. Note how self-pitying she has been, down-playing what IS did, and her role therein. Observe how IS women never challenged the rape of Yezidi girls, never expressed horror or showed empathy, and even aided in their oppression. Amalek was the same.

The next part is Part 6, the Conclusion.

The Destruction Of The Amalekites – Part 4/6

The Malicious and Incorrigible Nature of the Amalekites

We never read of any redeeming features of Amalekite character, nor any converts, save in one interesting case which turned out to be no real conversion at all. The Amalekites were clearly so evil, so in the grip of Satan, that they were unassimilable, unlike Canaanites such as Rahab or Moabites like Ruth, or Hittites like Uriah, etc.

The fact is, the Amalekites were incorrigible. From the days of Moses unto the days of David – several centuries apart – the Amalekites behaved in exactly the same malicious, murderous and predatory fashion from generation to generation, one as bad as the other. All they ever did was raid, murder, rob and enslave. They were not a normal nation or ethnic group.

We need to think of Amalek the same way we think of IS, as a criminal gang, especially in the way IS attacked the defenceless Yezidis, who never did anyone harm, but were dispossessed and enslaved, their girls forced to become sex-slaves. Think of how IS women were involved in this – the Al-Khansaa Brigade who acted as their ‘moral police’ force regarding the dress and deportment of women in the Caliphate, bearing arms and inflicting violent punishment, and even engaged in combat. Even their children – ‘the Cubs of the Caliphate’ – were imbued with their murderous ideology and carried out executions. This was the situation to some degree with the Amalekites – the children were imbued with the same murderous, raiding culture, and the evidence of this is the fact that their practices continued for generations. The Amalekites were indeed incorrigible.

The Amalekites were characterised by cruelty and callousness. This can be demonstrated from their attacks on the weak and vulnerable among the back of the Israelite train at the Exodus, and by what happened in Judges 6:

And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them.They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey.For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in.

This shows the cruelty and callousness of the Amalekites – frightening the Israelites, and leaving the latter no food, plundering rather than growing their own food. Then, when Saul is fighting the Philistines, they attack defenceless, vulnerable people again – Ziklag, to raid their property and enslave the people. This is similar to the activities of the Barbary Corsairs, the North African Muslim maritime jihadis who raided Europe to enslave Christians, and to IS at Sinjar. The Amalekites, in their wanton violence, were just like a gang of thugs who mug an old lady. They were unashamed, having no fear of God – like Mafia hitmen, or like Shamima Begum who was not fazed by severed heads in bins or the Manchester massacre (and note that she has not even mentioned the Yezidis), or like the IS woman who had no problem with the rape of Yezidi slave-girls because the Qur’an permitted it ( Daily Mail, 10.3.2019, ‘It’s not rape in Islam’: ISIS ‘wife’ defends jihadis’ sexual assault and murder of Yazidi women because it is ‘allowed in the Quran’ as the last remaining fighters face being pushed from their final stronghold’, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6792049/ISIS-wife-defends-jihadis-rape-murder-Yazidi-women-allowed-Quran.html), or like the IS men who actually raped them. 

That the Amalekites were like this is demonstrated by what happened when they raided Ziklag, 1 Samuel 30:1-3:

Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.

David, of course, immediately went in search of his wives. Note the callousness of the Amalekites evident in the following verses:

11 They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink,12 and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights.13 And David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” He said, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago.14 We had made a raid against the Negeb of the Cherethites and against that which belongs to Judah and against the Negeb of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.”15 And David said to him, “Will you take me down to this band?” And he said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this band.”

It would seem that the young Egyptian was a slave – probably captured – to an Amalekite. Note how scared he was of going back to his master – clearly, the latter was very cruel. That cruelty and callousness is demonstrated by the fact that when he fell sick, instead of being nursed by his master, he was abandoned to the elements without food or water – i.e., he was left to die. The master obviously felt that as he would be enjoying fresh, healthy slaves, he need not bother with this sick man, so he abandoned him to his fate. Obviously, none of the Amalekite band objected, so it is clear that they were just as callous and cruel as was he.

This is further evidenced by the following verse: 16 And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.’ Just like the IS men rejoiced and gloated over their seizure and rape of the Yezidi girls, the Amalekites were rejoicing over their seizure of the people of Ziklag. They were callously evil. 

The murderous character of the Amalekites is demonstrated by what Samuel says to the Amalekite King Agag in 1 Samuel 15:33: ‘And Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before YHWH in Gilgal.’ That is, the Amalekites had practised infanticide against their enemies – slaughtering children. Look at the context of this in the previous chapter, where 14.48 states about Saul: ‘And he did valiantly and struck the Amalekites and delivered Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them.’Imagine what a court in Texas would do to a gang who murdered children as part of their robberies. There could only be one fit sentence for such an outrage – the death penalty for the whole gang.  

Further evidence is found in 2 Samuel 1. In 1 Samuel 31, Saul, fatally wounded by the Philistines, had asked his armour-bearer to slay him, but the latter refused:

Then Saul said to his armour-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armour-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.And when his armour-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him.

Later, the Philistines found his body and defiled it:

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.So they cut off his head and stripped off his armour and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people.10 They put his armour in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.11 But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul,12 all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there.13 And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days.

Note that the Israelite soldiers behaved honourably; the same could not be said for this Amalekite in 2 Samuel 1:

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.And on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage.David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.”And David said to him, “How did it go? Tell me.” And he answered, “The people fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.”Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”And the young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear, and behold, the chariots and the horsemen were close upon him.And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’And he said to me, ‘Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’10 So I stood beside him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the armlet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”

Of course, this was a lie, as we know from 1 Samuel 31, though David did not yet know this. The Amalekite was clearly trying to ingratiate himself in the hope of advancement and reward – once again, plunder by other means. Note what the Amalekite did notdo: he did not try to honourably bury his King (Saul), but rather robbed the crown and armlet to impress David in the hope of reward – doubtless financial. What is especially interesting is what he says in answer to David:

13 And David said to the young man who told him, “Where do you come from?” And he answered, “I am the son of a sojourner, an Amalekite.”14 David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy anointed of YHWH?”15 Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died.16 And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the anointed of YHWH.’”

The young man’s self-description is revealing – he was the son of an immigrant who had joined the community of Israel. So, he would have been exposed to the teaching of the Torah and the worship of YHWH. Yet he did not balk at claiming to have killed YHWH’s anointed king. Nothing of Biblical values had penetrated his Amalekite heritage, despite being raised and possibly born in Israel. He thought that murder – or at least, assisted suicide – was all right, and that he should be rewarded for it. There was no remorse for his purported action (though he had not done it). Essentially, he boasted of it. To repeat, nought of the values of Biblical Israel had entered into his soul. So, David treated him as he did the other Amalekites he had just fought – by executing him. 

Equally consider Shamima Begum and one of the other Bethnal Green trio – Amira Abase, one the daughter of a Bangladeshi immigrant to Britain, the other a daughter of an Ethiopian immigrant. Despite being raised in Britain, British values did not penetrate them; their Islamic heritage won out. Note that they made hijra to IS only two years after the beheading of Lee Rigby in London – yet Begum was not fazed by severed heads, and Abase reacted with ‘lol’ after the Tunisia massacre which saw over thirty Britons and others murdered. Neither of them showed any empathy for the under-age Yezidi girls raped by Is men. Similarly, British values never penetrated the grooming gangs across the UK who behaved like IS jihadis in raping thousands of white and Sikh girls.

Next is Part 5 – The Judgment of YHWH Upon the Amalekites



The Destruction Of The Amalekites – Part 3/6

The Amalekite Attacks On The Israelites

The Amalekites were not even great fighters, or at least brave – another reason that History would ignore them, since they were unlike the all-conquering Assyrians or the later Macedonians.

This is evidenced by the first Amalekite interaction with the Israelites, which occurred almost immediately after the Exodus. In Exodus 17, the Israelites are still in Horeb. This is important, since it shows that they were attacked by Amalek, even though they were not yet in Palestine. Hence, this was an unprovoked attack.

Remember, they did not live in the Land of Promise, so they were not under threat from the Israelites and had they not attacked the Israelites, they would have been spared in the way the Canaanites could not be. Note the timingof their attack. This was when the Israelites were a group of refugee slaves with no military experience. From what we know of Amalek later, it is likely that they sought to gain easy booty from a group of vulnerable refugee ex-slaves – obviously, people who posed no threat and could be easily attacked and plundered. The Israelite liberation from Egypt had not been accomplished by their own violent insurrection, but by supernaturalintervention.

The Amalekites obviously thought the Israelites were easy pickings, but even then, they only attacked the most vulnerable – the stragglers at the back of the mobile community. Note that they attacked the vulnerable and defenceless– Deuteronomy 25: ‘17 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt,18 how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God.’ They attacked the old and weak in the back of the train.

This is just what the Islamic State (IS) did when they attacked the vulnerable Yezidis – a peaceful people who never harmed anyone, had no military defences and posed no threat to IS or anyone else. It is interesting that we never hear about Amalekite religion – just that they ‘did not fear God’. Note what it does not say; it does not say that they did not fear YHWH, but rather God. This phrase underlines their criminality, their reckless disregard for civilised norms, like the Mafia or IS in Sinjar (the Yezidi home). There was no fear of God in their eyes – of any deity. They were like Louis Lepke, the 1930s American gangster who founded ‘Murder Incorporated’ for the Mob, and callously killed people without a second thought.

Later, in the Judges period, Amalek once again attacked a defenceless and vulnerable Israel: note what Amalek alongside Midian in plundering Israel – Judges 6: ‘For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them.They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey.For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted — so that they laid waste the land as they came in.’ Observe what this tells us about the Amalekites. Clearly, they were not pastoralists – they were not tending crops nor even sheep or cattle, since they had time to raid away from their homes. They simply stole the property of others.

Again, they were not even great fighters – even in this case, they attacked the Israelites only in alliance with other peoples (Midianites and ‘peoples of the east’). Essentially, Amalek behaved like a gang of armed robbers, preying upon the defenceless. They never conquered peoples or lands and ruled them like the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians or Macedonians, but rather simply raided and plundered them. This demonstrates their economic and cultural matrix. One cannot make peace with a criminal gang in the way one would with an enemy nation.

This continued unto the days of Saul and David, as evidenced by 1 Samuel 30:1-3: ‘Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.’ The captives included his wives. Notice this was not a conquest, but rather a raid for plunder. Amalek had no interest in occupying Ziklag – they simply destroyed it, perhaps another indication of their desert nomad condition, which had no need for any kind of urban existence. Observe the occasion of the attack – while Ziklag – a Philistine city given to David (1 Samuel 27:6) – was undefended, as the Philistines (under whom David served at this point) and Saul were fighting, Amalek again raided a defenceless, vulnerable people, seeing an opportunity for plunder while everyone was distracted. This tells us much about their character.

Next is Part 4 – The Malicious And Incorrigible Nature Of The Amalekites 

The Destruction Of The Amalekites – Part 2/6

The Identity And Culture Of Amalek

As to origins, Genesis 36 displays the Amalekites as descendants of Esau:

2 Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite… 10 These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau…11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz.12 (Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.) These are the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife.

So the Amalekites were descendants of Eliphaz, son of Esau through his Canaanite-Hittite wife Adah, through not the wife of Eliphaz, but rather his concubine Timna. Possibly for the latter reason, the Amalekites were not counted as among the Edomites.

Outside the Bible, there seems to be no record of the Amalekites. This has led some to be sceptical of their very existence, but the absence of extra-Biblical historical account can be explained by three related points: Amalek’s lack of any cultural impact, their lack of any historical impact, and their relatively small size in contrast to peoples such as the Egyptians.

Before examining these points, we shall look at their origins. The first Biblical reference to the Amalekites is in Genesis 14:7, referring to the alliance of northern kings who attacked the southern Levant: ‘Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.’ This is probably a deliberate anachronism by Moses, referring to territory that in his time was occupied by the Amalekites, e.g., if one were to refer to a Roman visiting Carthage in Tunisia, although Tunisia as a name and political entity did not exist in Roman times.

In Numbers 13:29, we read: ‘The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb.’ This indicates that they lived outside the Land of Promise, so had nothing to fear from the Israelite conquest, and that they were a desert people, probably living by oases. In 14:25 we read ‘…the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valleys…’, and Judges 12:15 refers to ‘the hill country of the Amalekites.’ In Judges 6:33 we read: ‘Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together, and they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel…’ This puts them in Transjordan. The likelihood, therefore, is that they were a nomadic or semi-nomadic people, which the OT as a whole would seem to suggest, and that they were more a tribal confederacy than a nation, with encampments rather than normal cities. 

The latter would partly explain their lack of cultural and historical impact. Let us compare and contrast them with the Canaanites. It should be noted that the people normally known as ‘Phoenicians’ never called themselves by that name. Rather, they referred to themselves as ‘Canaanites’ (Garbini, Giovanni, ‘The Question of the Alpahbet’, in Moscati, Sabatino (ed.), The Phoenicians, London: I. B. Tauris, 2001, p. 107). There was no cultural or conceptual distinction between the people of Tyre and Sidon and those to the south of them.

The Phoenicians explored and traded as far as Britain (for Cornish tin), and established colonies across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, as far as what is now Morocco. Carthage was a Phoenician colony (founded 814 BC), and they conquered Sicily and Sardinia, as well as parts of Spain – the city of Cartagena was originally New Carthage. Cadiz was originally a Phoenician colony (founded 1104 BC).

The Phoenician alphabet influenced others, including even the Romans. We know from 1 Kings 5 and 6 how Phoenician builders from King Hiram of Tyre helped to build the Temple of Solomon. Previously, Tyrian builders constructed David’s house – 2 Samuel 5:11.

At the Canaanite city of Ugarit in northern Syria, discovered in 1929, extensive elements of the people’s culture and religion were discovered. One text discovered at Ugarit, concerning ‘Keret’, refers to ‘a [sacri]ficial lamb [in] your right hand’ as well as a young goat and ‘a bird for sacrifice’ (Bernhardt, Karl-Heinz, ‘Ugaritic Texts: Keret’, in Beyerlin, Walter (ed.), Near Eastern Religious Texts Relating to the Old Testament, London: SCM, 1975, 1978, p. 224). This demonstrates that the Canaanites had a literary heritage. Hence, the Canaanites, especially the Phoenicians, had a major historical and cultural impact, even outside their homeland.

By contrast, we read nothing of the Amalekites being great builders, agriculturalists, horticulturalists or traders. All we read of them is that they were robbers, raiders and enslavers. Their whole economy was built on the principle of raiding to satisfy their needs.

Since they were economically parasitic, this would explain their lack of coinage or constructions, whether buildings or goods. Again, it would follow that this would mean that they did not engage in normal trade, especially with their neighbours. As an inland, largely desert people, they obviously were not sailors, which would undermine their contact with other peoples. Their relatively small size would have limited their impact, in the absence of extensive trading relations. This being the case, it is hardly surprising they the Amalekites left no cultural or historical footprint. 

We know nothing about their language, but given their proximity to the Canaanites, it was probably the same or a related dialect. Similarly, we know nothing about their religion – a point to which we will return. This is somewhat surprising, since the OT usually does say something about the religion of the surrounding nations, albeit in a hostile and denunciatory fashion, e.g., 1 Kings 11: ‘For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites…Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abominationof Moab, and for Molech the abominationof the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem.’Again, the lack of reference to them in the annals of surrounding nations testifies to their lack of cultural impact. They would only be known as plunderers.

Part 3 of 6 will discuss The Malicious And Incorrigible Nature Of The Amalekites