Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Curse: War Of The Amelekites

Now one might presume from the title that I’m going to write a discourse on an ancient people that are nothing more than a speck on the tapestry of history and exist only as a footnote to the pages of antiquity. But there in itself lies the anomaly because as an ancient people they were never eradicated as had been commanded by God (see Exodus and Samuel I)and therefore became part of an eternal curse upon the Children of Israel. To those whom have heard my discourses upon this subject in the past, they are well aware of not only how God’s promises are everlasting, but so are His curses if he intends them to be so. It would be naïve of us to presume that He only issues positive utterances and the opposite cannot be true. As He clearly states to Moses, He is both the merciful God as well as the wrathful God. The Lord of redemption and the Lord of vengeance.
First we must examine who were these Amelekites that are mentioned several times in the pages of the Old Testament and why would they be of any significance today. We first encounter the Amelekites through the wanderings of the Children of Israel through the wilderness. They are the semi-nomadic inhabitants of the desert. Those areas that comprise the Negev, the Sinai and Saudi Arabia. They do have some cities under their control, as is mentioned in the Bible and there is also a king that reigns over them. In other words, they are the forerunners of the Bedouin and Arab populations of what was once referred to as the Trans-Jordan.
Now, the Amelekites were a fierce and warlike people that given a choice between peace and battle, tended to choose the latter as it was part of their psyche. When Moses and the Children of Israel requested to pass through the land, promising not to turn left nor right, but to march towards Canaan without disturbing the Amelekites’s existence, they were refused. This refusal earned these desert people the anger and retribution of God, and he made it very clear that he would put an end to their violent ways. There would be a day of reckoning for the Amelekites.
That day came once Saul was anointed as King of Israel. The prophet Samuel advises Saul, that God will hand the Amelekites over to Israel and it would be Saul’s responsibility following the battle to ensure that they are obliterated from the face of the earth. Such was to be their punishment. Not to be reduced, not to become enslaved, not even absorbed. Total elimination, down to every last man, woman and child. Extremely harsh, when you first examine the judgement, but one that was not open for debate or question. Unlike his dealings with Abraham, God was not willing to negotiate with Saul. As one reads through the book of Samuel I, the impression is given that Saul did eliminate the population after defeating their army in battle. But we know this is not true, because as its described in Samuel II, David had to meet the Amelekites in battle much later, and although he defeated them, they continue to appear in the history of the Kings of Israel and Judah. Whenever there appears to be an opposing force united for the purpose of defeating the Jews, the Amelekites are there.
So why then does it say that they were eliminated? Therein lies one of the problems with setting oral tradition into written scripture. It can be influenced by the personal leanings of the editor or redactor. As religiously scrupulous as they may have been, it would have been difficult to accept that God, whom is love and mercy, could also be wrath and vengeance. Yet God tells us that himself in the Bible. He openly admits it. He’s prepared to make the tough decisions when He knows that ultimately it would be to the benefit and safety of those He loves. Would not any father be prepared to defend his child by whatever means was necessary even if it meant killing the attacker? And in this case, He knew very well what the future would bring if the Amelekites were permitted to continue to exist.
It tells us in the Bible that when Samuel came to see Saul after the battle, he heard the bleating of the sheep taken from the Amelekites and he was filled with rage at Saul’s defiance of the instructions from God. “Not one sheep, nor cattle beast, nor possession of the Amelekites was to be taken from them and kept alive,” he screamed at Saul. The King defended himself by saying that the animals were taken to be a sacrifice to God to celebrate the victory and that there was no intention to keep the animals alive, which may have been very true, but the editor of the story took Samuel completely literally, and the prophet was anything but literal. What Samuel had heard were the wails of the children of the Amelekites, the cries of their woman, and the moaning of their men from within the camps of the Israelites. Taking prisoners from what remained of the enemy for household servants was quite common back then. It was part of what was referred to as the spoils of the victors, and it was the presence of these ‘spoils’ for which Samuel condemned Saul and his family. It was never about the bleating of sheep!
And the curse was quite clear as it is expressed in the Book of Samuel. Saul’s reign over Israel would come to an end for himself and his family and the Kingdom of Israel would be handed over to its neighbour. Most commonly, this was seen as a prophetic statement alluding to David as the future King. But what kind of prophecy would this be, considering that it was Samuel, himself, that had the authority to anoint a new king if he so desired. If it was that simple, then it really wouldn’t be a prophecy at all, but merely a political decision made by Samuel to demonstrate his displeasure in Saul’s disobedience. And why use the reference to neighbour? Yes, we can argue that the tribe of Benjamin was surrounded by its Judahite neighbours, but this doesn’t make sense in a monarchical structure which had unified the tribal confederacy into a single people. Benjaminites and Judahites were Israelites at this point and not neighbours since the borders were now gone.
No, it is clear that the intent of this curse was to be far more reaching and severe than a mere change of ruling family would suggest. It wasn’t a punishment to be borne by the House of Saul alone; all of Israel was guilty of the sin. In its entirety, the victorious Israelite army had committed the affront to God by disobeying his orders and taking into their households prisoners of war that they intended to keep as part of the share of the spoils of victory. Therefore any curse would have to be a punishment for all of Israel.
Israel’s neighbours were the Amelekites; the same people that were supposedly defeated. We can also state that this would apply to the Amorites and the Moabites, and the Philistines, etc., but in this particular instance, it was only the Amelekites that God was referring to. They would be the instruments of his punishment. In the same way they were intended to be part of the reward for Israel’s faith, by which their armies were handed over to be decimated and the security of Israel would have been secured everlasting had they done as they had been instructed. Now that same people would become the bane of Israel’s existence. The Kingdom of Israel would be plagued by constant overthrow, attacks and acts of terror by the neighbours they had let survive. We have our first instance of the mirror policies of God. Where the reverse reflection can be as real as the actual entity standing in front of the mirror. The failure of one is to the advantage of the other.
The presence of this curse is clearly evident. Throughout its entire existences as the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the territorial provinces of Galilee, Samaria, Judea, or Idumaea, this neighbour has surfaced time and time again to wreak havoc upon the Jews. In fact, it was during the reign of the Herodian family that we witnessed the pinnacle of this ancient curse. When Amelekites, then referred to as Idumeans, had risen so high within the political arena of Judaea, that Herod and his descendants actually wore the crown of Israel upon their heads. Now, you should be able to see how prophetic the words of Samuel truly were. After all, he was Samuel the Prophet, not Samuel the king-maker, and unless we recognise that the Books of Samuel truly are prophetic, then his title wouldn’t make too much sense since the books in his name on first appearance seem to be merely chronicles.
Understanding the prophetic nature of this curse then explains much of what has transpired in the Land of Israel for the past two thousand years. Exactly as it was foretold, it has come to pass. The land would seesaw between Israel and its neighbour. The neighbour would be a constant and perpetual thorn in Israel’s side. Whenever, a Kingdom of the Jews would rise to power, or attempt to do so, this neighbour would continually try to upset the balance and attempt to seize the kingdom for itself. In essence, the Amelekites are doing nothing more than following the path that God had set for them three thousand years ago when Israel failed to carry out their instructions and obliterate them as a people.
Once more a Kingdom of Israel exists in the world. Certainly, we don’t refer to it as a kingdom in its current existence. It’s a state, a democratic country, which stands alone in a sea of hostile Arab kingdoms. But political reality and religious reality don’t have to be perfectly aligned. State, kingdom, republic, or principality, it really doesn’t matter when it comes to curses. The fact remains that its very existence means that the Amelekites are duty bound to try and deconstruct Israel for no other purpose than it exists.
Rather than refer to the other indigenous people of the Middle east as Palestinians, it would be far more appropriate to refer to them by their true origins, as descendants of those semi-nomadic people of the wilderness areas of the Trans Jordan that had infiltrated over the centuries into the Land of Israel during those times when a population vacuum was created by the dispersion of the Jews into foreign lands by the conquering powers. They are Amelekites. They have been so for thousands of years, and they will forever remain so.
Therefore it is imperative that we understand, who these people are. The actual rationale for their belligerence and persistent hatred of the Jewish people. This unnatural detestation of Jews, since it must be remembered that their acts of terrorism have not been isolated to Israelis, but to Jews the world over. And when they talk of destroying Israel it is the intentional driving the Jews in the sea not Israelis that they make allusion to. An abhorrence that goes far beyond land control issues, since the desire is not merely have governance over the land but to eliminate the presence of Jews from the land itself and the world over. Those that may try to suggest now that their expressions of ‘driving the Jews into the sea’ were merely rhetoric and not based on actual intent have little understanding of their motivation. Recognising that they are the descendants of the Amelekites makes everything perfectly clear. They have no other options but to act in the manner in which they do. Their actions are predetermined by a curse that has been infused into the core of their existence since the days of Saul and Samuel. And not until they become reconciled with their past can this vicious circle be broken. Either they must let the Children of Israel pass safely into the land of Canaan unmolested, thereby rectifying the original curse that had been placed upon their heads, or they must bear the consequence of God’s demand to Saul to eliminate them from the face of the earth, and in so doing, the curse becomes lifted from Israel once and for all. Clearly the choice of how this is to end is in the hands of the Amelekites.

Curses are a funny thing. You try not to beleive in them, but the reality is that you can't escape them. As I write the stories, those published such as Blood Royale and Shadows Of Trinity, and those hopefully soon to be published such as Deliverance and Zutra, I realize that just as there exists this perpetual curse on Israel and the Palestinian or Arab neighbours, there is also one that has existed on my family history as well. No matter how far we have risen, whether in Southern France or Mesopotamia, or Galicia, etc., we, being the Kahana, never fully achieve the freedom that we are destined to fight for. Everyone of those ancestors died in their efforts to achieve that particular goal for their people. How does one break the curse? As with the Amelekite Curse it can only be achieved when a completely different approach is taken. I'll let you know if I find it!

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