Deuteronomy 25:18
How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.
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25:17-19 Let every persecutor and injurer of God's people take warning from the case of the Amalekites. The longer it is before judgement comes, the more dreadful will it be at last. Amalek may remind us of the foes of our souls. May we be enabled to slay all our lusts, all the corruptions both within and without, all the powers of darkness and of the world, which oppose our way to the blessed Saviour.It was not after the spirit or mission of the Law to aim at overcoming inveterate opposition by love and by attempts at conversion (contrast 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). 17-19. Remember what Amalek did—This cold-blooded and dastardly atrocity is not narrated in the previous history (Ex 17:14). It was an unprovoked outrage on the laws of nature and humanity, as well as a daring defiance of that God who had so signally shown His favor towards Israel (see on [162]1 Samuel 15; [163]27. 8; [164]30). Smote the hindmost of thee; which God permitted, both for the punishment of Israel’s sins, and to harden and prepare them for the difficulties of their expedition.

How he met thee by the way,.... Not with necessary provisions, food and drink, which would have been but a piece of kindness and humanity to travellers; but met them sword in hand, in order to stop their journey, and make them captives, at least to harass and distress them:

and smote the hindmost of thee; came upon them in a sly cowardly manner, and attacked their rear:

even all that were feeble behind thee: women and children, and such men as were weak, sickly, labouring under some disorder, and so lagged behind, and could not keep up with the rest; on these Amalek first fell, and began his attack here:

when thou wast faint and weary; with travelling, and the more so for want of water, which was their case at Rephidim, when Amalek came out against them; which is another aggravation of their unkind usage of them they were not to forget:

and he feared not God; who was then in the pillar of cloud and fire with Israel, which phenomenon Amalek might see, and yet did not fear; and who had done such wonders for Israel in Egypt, and had brought them from thence, and had drowned Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea, of which doubtless Amalek had heard, and yet feared not the Lord, who had done such great things.

How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.
18. how he met thee by the way] better, fell on thee. Cp. 1 Samuel 15:2 : how he set himself against him (Israel) in the way.

and smote the hindmost of thee] Lit. docked the tail of thee; elsewhere only in Joshua 10:19 (E?).

all that had broken down in thy rear] The vb. is not found elsewhere.

feared not God] See E, Genesis 20:11; Genesis 42:18, Exodus 1:17, all of non-Israelites; and cp. Amos’ denunciations of foreign peoples for inhumanity (Amos 1:3 to Amos 2:3). A people so devoid of natural religion as to kill the non-combatants deserved no mercy, as the next v. declares.

Verse 18. - And smote the hindmost of thee; literally, and tailed thee; i.e. cut off thy tail, or rear. The verb (זִנֵּב) occurs only here and in Joshua 10:19. It is a denominative from זָנָב, a tail, and, like many denominatives, both in the Hebrew and in other languages, it has the sense of taking away or cutting off the thing expressed by the noun from which it is formed, like the English verb to skin, for example.

Deuteronomy 25:18But whilst the Israelites were to make love the guiding principle of their conduct in their dealings with a neighbour, and even with strangers and foes, this love was not to degenerate into weakness or indifference towards open ungodliness. To impress this truth upon the people, Moses concludes the discourse on the law by reminding them of the crafty enmity manifested towards them by Amalek on their march out of Egypt, and with the command to root out the Amalekites (cf. Exodus 17:9-16). This heathen nation had come against Israel on its journey, viz., at Rephidim in Horeb, and had attacked its rear: "All the enfeebled behind thee, whilst thou wast faint and weary, without fearing God." זנּב, lit., to tail, hence to attack or destroy the rear of an army or of a travelling people (cf. Joshua 10:19). For this reason, when the Lord should have given Israel rest in the land of its inheritance, it was to root out the remembrance of Amalek under heaven. (On the execution of this command, see 1 Samuel 15.) "Thou shalt not forget it:" an emphatic enforcement of the "remember" in Deuteronomy 25:17.
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