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" Egypt; 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; therefore it shall be, when the
Lord thy God hath given thee reșt from “ all thine enemies round about, in the land s which the Lord thy God giveth thee for “ an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt so blot out the remembrance of Amalek from s under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.”
Here then, the divine command to ex+ terminatę Amalek as a nation, is grounded, first, on their conduct towards the chosen people of God. They had displayed in their attack on them, a spirit of unprovoked, cruel, treacherous and inveterate hostility, It was unprovoked, because there appears no reason to believe, that the Jews had the remotest intention of either injuring their persons or seizing on their territory; which does not appear to have formed † any
* In Samuel, xy. 2, it is “ how he laid wait for him « in the way."
* Vide Patrick on Exod. xvii. 8, and Deut. xxy. 17, &c. Universal History. Vol. I. p. 318. Most commentators
part of that land, of which the Jews were commanded by God to take possession: Accordingly we never find the Amalekites mentioned among the nations, who were to be expelled from the promised land. It was a cruel, treacherous and inveterate hos, tility, because they attacked the Jewish host, as appears, by surprise, 'so as to cut off the hindmost, who were feeble, and weary and faint: and surely an enemy acting in such a manner as this, might at that time have been regarded as an inveterate and malignant foe, whose destruction might be considered as almost necessary to the safety of those whom they attacked. But this was not the chief cause of the doom denounced against them; it was not so much the cruelty of their conduct, as the impiety of their motive, which drew down upon them the divine yengeance:
GOD." The Amalekites. could not but have known the signs and wonders, by which Jehovah
had consider these Amalekites as the descendants of Esau, who would therefore, but for their own misconduct, have enjoyed the same exemption from all attempts of the Jews on their territory, as the children of Edomn., Vide Deut. ii. 5. But this seems uncertain.
had rescued his chosen people from Egyptian slavery, and declared himself openly their guardian God. They must particularly have known the recent destruction of the Egyptian host in the Red Sea. But the Amalekites, notwithstanding all this, “ feared “not the God of the Jews :" they set themselves voluntarily and audaciously in direct defiance of the power of Jehovah, and this at a period when this kind of opposition was peculiarly repugnant to the purposes of the divine : dispensations; for we are informed, that * “ God led not his people "" through the way of the land of the Phi* listines, although that was near; for God " said, least peradventure the people repent ” when they see war, and return to Egypt.” Under these circumstances, the unprovoked, inveterate and presumptuous attack of the Amalekites, must have been considered both by them and the Jews, as a direct insult to the majesty of Jehovah, in his charac, ter of peculiar guardian and immediate Lord of this chosen people. It was not consistent with the purposes of the divine eco
* Exod. xvii. 17.
nomy, to vindicate the honour of Jehoyah by any general punishment of the Amalekites at that time: their attack was repelled, but not retaliated, nor was their territory invaded.
This contemptuous defiance of the power and majesty of God would, therefore, have appeared to escape with impunity, if no further notice had been taken of it; a circumstance which might have degraded the Deity in the estimation of the Jews, who judged of his power, as all other nations then judged of their guardian gods, by his vigour and promptitude in der fending his people and punishing their enemies. This seems to be a reason why God judged it necessary to announce to the Jews, that though he would not at present punish the insult of the Amalekites, he yet would not suffer it to pass finally unpunished; but that he would authorize and employ them to inflict, at a remote period, the punishment it merited; thus impressing the Jews themselves with the salutary conviction, that where the majesty of Jehovah was insulted, * present delay of punishment afforded no presumption of final impunity.
* Vide Butler's Analogy, Part I. ch. ii. p. 56.
In addition to this I would remark, that this sentence was a prophecy as well as a command, repeated afterwards by Balaam, and in which the Jews were made the instruments of executing the will of their God, and supplied with a striking proof of the divine foreknowledge of their legislator, which being recalled to their remembrance, 400 years after, when Saul was command, ed to carry this sentence into execution, tended to impress upon them a salutary awe for the authority, and an humble obedience to the precepts of the Mosaic Law; a lesson peculiarly necessary at the beginning of the regal government, which the people had called for, from a certain degree of impatience under that theocracy, which God by Moses had established. "When,” says Samuel, † " ye saw that Nahath, the king of “ the children of Ammon, came against you,
ye said unto me, Nay, but a king shall “ reign over us, when the Lord your God " was your king Now therefore, behold
* Numbers, xxiv. 20.
+ 1 Samuel, xii, 12.