Who Are the Amalekites?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 23, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

This week we’re continuing our series of looking into other people groups from the Bible. Last week we looked at the Canaanites, and today we’ll look into the Amalekites.

Where did the Amalekites come from? It would be easy to assume that they’re the descendents of Amalek (Genesis 36:12), but that’s not the case. Amalek was the grandson of Esau, who was the grandson of Abraham. We see them in Genesis 14:7, which is during Abraham’s time - 4 generations before Amalek was even both. However, we don’t know exactly where the Amalekites descended from before this first mention.

The Amalekites were a nomadic tribe, meaning they didn’t settle in one place but wandered the land as needed. They lived between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea, and it is believed that they migrated there from the Persian Gulf area.

The Amalekites often tried to stop Israel, when Israel would be passing through their territory. We see a reference in Numbers 24:20 that the Amalekites were one of the first nations to attack the people of Israel after they left Egypt. Another battle with them is in Exodus 17:8-13. This is the battle where as long as Moses kept his hands up, Israel kept winning; if he lowered his hands, they started losing. Israel overcame the Amalekites in that battle, but they weren’t fully wiped out. Later in Deuteronomy 25:17-19, we see God reminding Israel about how the Amalekites had attacked them, and telling them that eventually they’ll blot out that tribe.

This prophecy came true when the Amalekites were finally defeated once and for all by King Saul in 1 Samuel 14:48. Later, in 1 Samuel 30:18-20, King David recovered all of the Amalekites’ treasures.

We don’t know much more about the Amalekites, since they were completely wiped out. Very little archaeological evidence has been found from them because of their relatively short existence as a people. The Amalekites are one more nation that God used to either bless or curse Israel, depending on their obedience (or lack thereof) to Him.

[Note: Much of this material was taken from the Easton Dictionary of the Bible and the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.]

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