Remember what Amalek did to you by the way, when you were come forth out of Egypt;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 25:17-19. AMALEK TO BE EXTERMINATED.
At the end of all the precepts of humanity, the extermination of that people which is presented to us as the incarnation of inhumanity is decreed.
(18) He . . . smote the hindmost . . .—These details are not given in Exodus 17. Amalek’s attack follows the appearance of the stream of water from Horeb. There was nothing more natural than that the faint and weary should stay behind at the water side. There the Amalekites appear to have found them and cruelly massacred them.
(19) Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek.—This decree was entrusted to Joshua in the first instance, as the “servant of the Book” (Exodus 17:14); here it is enjoined upon the nation of Israel. It was carried out in several stages: by Barak and Gideon (Judges 5:14; Judges 6:3; Judges 7:12, &c.), by Saul and Samuel (1 Samuel 15), by David (1Samuel 27:8-9; 1Samuel 30:17), by the Simeonites (1Chronicles 4:42-43), and lastly by Esther, who exterminated the Agagites in Haman’s house. No doubt any remnant of Amalek in the Persian empire under Mordecai would have shared Haman’s fate.Deuteronomy 25:17-18. Out of Egypt — Which circumstance greatly aggravated their sin, that they should do thus to a people who had been long exercised with sore afflictions, to whom pity was due by the laws of nature and humanity, and for whose rescue God had in so glorious a manner appeared, which they could not be ignorant of. And he feared not God — Though they feared Israel, whom they durst not look in the face, but cut them off behind, yet they feared not God, but acted a base and inhuman part, in contempt of the divine authority, and of all the miraculous interpositions of the divine providence in behalf of that chosen nation. So that while their conduct was barbarous to Israel, they set the great Jehovah at defiance.Luke 9:55-56). The law taught God's hatred of sin and of rebellion against Him by enjoining the extinction of the obstinate sinner. The Amalekites were a kindred people Genesis 36:15-16; and living as they did in the peninsula of Sinai, they could not but have well known the mighty acts God had done for His people in Egypt and the Red Sea; yet they manifested from the first a persistent hostility to Israel (compare Exodus 17:8, and note; Numbers 14:45). They provoked therefore the sentence here pronounced, which was executed at last by Saul (1 Samuel 15:3 ff). Exodus 17:8,
by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; which was an aggravation of their cruel and inhuman action, that they not only came out against them unprovoked, were the aggressors, and fell upon them as they were travelling on the road, but when they were just come out of Egypt, where they had been in hard bondage, and their spirits broken, and they not used to war; and so took them at all these disadvantages, a people that had not in the least injured them.Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)17. Remember, etc.] The construction, even to the change from Sg. to Pl., is the same as in Deuteronomy 24:9, q.v. For other historical statements introd. by remember, see Deuteronomy 5:15, Deuteronomy 7:18, Deuteronomy 9:7, Deuteronomy 15:15, Deuteronomy 16:12.
as ye came forth] LXX, Vulg. thou earnest. But the Pl. is probably original here, and may be regarded as an echo of Deuteronomy 23:4 (5), Deuteronomy 24:9.
17–19. On ‘Amaleḳ
Israel, remembering ‘Amaleḳ’s impious treatment of their derelicts on the way from Egypt, must, when they rest from their enemies in the land, exterminate ‘Amaleḳ.—In the Sg. address (except for an accidental Pl. in Deuteronomy 25:17) and partly in D’s phrasing; but also with phrases from E (Deuteronomy 25:18 f.), and therefore, like so much else in D, based upon E. This is confirmed by another reference to the same behaviour of ‘Amaleḳ in a passage which otherwise shows affinity to E (1 Samuel 15:2). Further, Israel’s attitude to ‘Amaleḳ under Saul and David, was one of implacable hostility. There is therefore no ground for supposing that this law is a late addition to D (Steuern., Berth., the latter of whom takes it for a piece of haggadah); and it falls in with D’s other laws on foreign nations, Deuteronomy 23:3-8.
The reference cannot be to E’s description of the pitched battle in Rephidim, in which Joshua discomfited ‘Amaleḳ (Exodus 17:8-13), nor indeed to any other single contest with that tribe; but is rather to the harassment which Israel suffered throughout the wilderness. Such cruel treatment of the stragglers and derelicts of the host by the wild Arabs of the desert is extremely probable (cp. Doughty, Ar. Des. ii. 153, etc.); and the memory of it would be bitter enough to account for such an early oracle against ‘Amaleḳ as is quoted by E, Exodus 17:14, and for this law, as well as for the lasting hatred of ‘Amaleḳ by Israel (enforced as this was by ‘Amaleḳite raids on Israel after their settlement) and their desire for his extermination. See 1 Samuel 14:48; 1 Samuel 15:2 f, Deuteronomy 27:8 f., Deuteronomy 28:18 (which regards Saul’s fall as due to his not having fully executed God’s wrath on ‘Amaleḳ), Deuteronomy 30:1 f., 2 Samuel 8:12. Such feelings may well have continued after ‘Amaleḳ’s disappearance from the history of Israel; D’s restatement of them is on a level with the command to exterminate the Canaanites and other peoples of the land.Verses 17-19. - Whilst in their intercourse with each other the law of love and brotherly kindness was to predominate, it was to be otherwise in regard to the enemies of God and his people. Them they were to overcome by force; wickedness was to be removed by the extinction of the wicked. Moses has already repeatedly reminded the Israelites that they had utterly to destroy the wicked nations of Canaan; and he here closes this discourse by reminding them that there was a nation outside of Canaan which was also doomed, and which they were to root out. This was Amalek, which had attacked the Israelites in their journey at Rephidim, and had taken advantage of their exhausted condition to harass their rear and destroy those who, faint and weary, had lagged behind. For this they had been already punished by the Israelites, who, led on by Joshua, had turned upon them and discomfited them with the edge of the sword. This, however, was not enough; Amalek was to be utterly destroyed, and this the Israelites were to effect as soon as the Lord had given them rest in the Promised Land. It was not, however, till the time of David that this was done.
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