27 January 2010

David spends the day killing Amalekites

While David was hanging out with the Philistines performing daily acts of genocide for them, disaster struck. The Philistines were attacked by the Amalekites.

That's right, the Amalekites. You know, the ones that God hates more than any other people, and that's saying something since God hates everyone except for the Israelites (and he hates them sometimes, too).

How much does God hate the Amalekites? Well, just listen to him.
The LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. Exodus 17.16
Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it. Deuteronomy 25.19
Thus saith the LORD of hosts ... go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15.2-3
So we know for sure that God hates Amalekites. That's why he ordered the Israelites to kill them all. And the Israelites (with God's help, of course) did just that. Twice.

Yet here, just a few years after they were completely killed in two separate God-ordered genocides, they attack the Philistines. I guess sometimes you have to kill people several times to make sure they're not merely dead, but positively, absolutely, undeniably, reliably, and sincerely dead.

What I find especially interesting in this story, though, is that the Amalekites show some mercy to the Philistines. Rather than utterly destroying them, slaying "both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" as God told the Israelites to do to them, they "slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way."
The Amalekites … slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. 1 Samuel 30.1-2
Yet the most common excuse that believers give for God's genocidal commands on the Amalekites is that the Amalekites were so evil that they all had to be killed -- even their woman, children, infants, and babies.

When David and his merry men return to Ziklag (the Philistine city that the Amalekites destroyed), they wept until they couldn't weep any longer.
So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 1 Samuel 30.3-4
Then they got up and talked about stoning David to death.
David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him. 1 Samuel 30.6
Meanwhile, David asked a priest to use his ephod to ask God what he should do. (An ephod is sort of a biblical version of a magic eight ball or a coin toss. It only works on yes or no questions.)
David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? 1 Samuel 30.7-8a
So God said "Heck Yeah. Go kill the Amalekites (one more time) and get back all your stuff."
He answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. 1 Samuel 30.8b
So that's what they did. David and 400 of his men (he left 200 behind because they were just too tired to kill people) spent the day killing Amalekites. They killed them all, except for 400 guys who escaped on camels.
David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled. 30.17
So David got back all of his stuff, including his two wives.
David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. 1 Samuel 30.18
And he shared the plunder will his men, even those that were too tired to kill.

David was such a nice guy. I think you can see why God liked him so much.

(The text doesn't say how many Amalekites were killed. I'll just say 1000.)

God's next killing: God kills Saul, his sons, and his men for not killing all the Amalekites

11 comments:

busterggi said...

For Pets' sake how many times do ALL the Amalikites have to be killed?

They've supposedly been eliminated totally at least twice. Are they all related to Wolverine or something?

twillight said...

Maybe Amalekites are Highlanders. (And israelites didn't know about the head-thing).


By the way, isn't the "ephod" some kind of a T-shirt? How, and why do you ask a stupid T-shirt of priests?
I always wondered that...

Mushinronsha said...

Amalekite is Hebrew, but stems from the Latin 'amalgama' that in turn, through Middle French, is the origin of the English word amalgamate - the uniting of different elements; in this case, flesh and metal. The Amalekites were cybernetic organisms - Cyborgs.
So it's no wonder they were dang hard to kill (the original text uses 'terminate' rather than 'kill'). They were more machine than man.
As for their "women" - Fembots. Their "children" - an early form of iPod.

Also there's a missing line in 1 Samuel 30:17:
"And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled."

It then should say "And yea an Amelekite turned in his saddle and said I'll be back."

Just FYI.

matt311 said...

So... the Amalekites were all killed for being merciful?

Hell, if it's at all possible, I'd rather have them as my pantheon of deities than Mr. Yahweh, considering his idea of "mercy" is to punish people ten to fifteen generations down the line for a minor infraction one of their ancestors committed...

Tony said...

Is there diminishing returns from killing people for the second and third time?

Steve Wells said...

twillight,

Yeah, the ephod was some kind of apron or skirt that priests wore. Maybe the Urim and Thuumim were put in the ephod and pulled out to give the magic answer, like pulling a name out of a hat.

busterggi said...

"Maybe the Urim and Thuumim were put in the ephod and pulled out to give the magic answer, like pulling a name out of a hat."

Well Steve it worked for Joseph Smith

Not Ms. Fiedler said...

It's worth pointing out, in this connection, that in the Jewish tradition the writings other than the 5 books are not read in their entirety, or in order. (Some schools do teach them in order to the girls, but never to the boys, who aren't really exposed to them much at all.) In the shul, we read only small portions each week, and not at all in order. So we don't notice these things.

busterggi said...

NMF - consider yourself lucky.

Kenneth Neal said...

"estimated number killed - 1000"

Are you kidding me!!? This was David and his Mighty Men. To say they were lionlike men would not be an understatement! Even if the Amalekites were scattered so that David and his men would have to take several paces or minutes going from one to the next, they could reasonably be expected to dispatch 1 Amalekite every 5 minutes (this is a conservative estimate). Calculate 5 per minute = 12 per hour x 24 hours x 400 men doing the killing, and you have a more realistic number of over 100,000!

Steve Wells said...

Yeah, you're probably right, Kenneth. But since the Amalekites were recently completely wiped out, there might not have been that many left to kill.

So I just gave it the usual 1000 for a God-assisted slaughter.