There was indeed “a particular sin” that the Amalekites was guilty of, which caused God to hate them. In Exodus 17:8 we read, “Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim” (NKJV). The Amalekites were a nomadic desert tribe who lived between Egypt and Canaan and their fierce attack on Israel was meant to destroy them as they made their way to the Promised Land. Yet God was with His people and thus we read in verses 9-12 that Israel “fought with Amalek” (verse 10) and that “Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (verse 13). Because of Amalek’s desire to exterminate the children of Israel God told Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I WILL UTTERLY BLOT OUT THE REMEMBRANCE OF AMALEK FROM UNDER HEAVEN” (verse 14).

God reconfirmed His promise to destroy Amalek shortly before Israel entered into Canaan. We read of this in Deuteronomy 25:17-19: “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your read, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving to you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek under heaven. You shall not forget.” Again, their attack on Israel was vicious, for they had no conscience when it came to killing the “stragglers” and those who were “tired and weary” (these surely included women and young children). What was it that caused them to be so brutal? They “did not fear God!”

When the children of Israel settled in the land of Canaan God ordered King Saul to carry out this judgment upon Amalek. God told him through Samuel, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Eqypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey” (1st Samuel 15:2-3). But Saul failed to obey the Lord’s commandment, as we read in verse 9: “But Saul and the people spared Agag (the King) and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and WERE UNWILLING TO UTTERLY DESTROY THEM.”

There is reason to believe that there were some Amalekites that escaped, for Scripture teaches us that the Amalekites continued to wreak havoc on the nation of Israel for generations. The most notable example of this is seen in 1st Samuel 30:1-2, “Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way.” David and his men defeated them and rescued their families, but they still weren’t completely destroyed. Verse 17 states, “Not a man of them escaped, except for four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled.”

It wasn’t until the reign of godly Hezekiah that Amalek was ALMOST exterminated. We learn in 1st Chronicles 4:42-43 that “five hundred men of the sons of Simeon…defeated the rest of the Amalekites who had escaped.” I said “almost” because there was ONE MORE AMALEKITE left and we read of him in Esther 3:1: “After these things King Ahasuerus promoted HAMAN, the son of Hammedatha THE AGAGITE.” How solemn! Because of Saul’s failure to kill King Agag, a descendant of his rose to power in the land of Persia and like his forefathers he too sought to wipe Israel off the map. I would encourage you to read this book to see how God, in His sovereignty, overruled by having Haman executed and preserving His people. (255.1) (DO)