Shmuel 1-Chapter 15: The battle against Amaleik

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Chapter 15: The battle against Amaleik

1. The command to destroy Amaleik:

  • Shmuel told Shaul that he was sent by G-d to anoint him as king over His nation, the Jewish people, [and now that he saw that it has taken place[1]] he should listen to the voice of G-d [and not be bewildered that G-d would ask for an entire nation to be destroyed[2]].
  • Hashem says as follows: I have remembered all that Amaleik has done to the Jewish people, and that which they ambushed them on the road they took when they were ascending from Egypt. Now, you shall go and attack Amaleik, and you shall destroy all that is theirs, and have no mercy on them. You shall kill every man and woman, from child to nursing baby, from ox to sheep, from camel to donkey [as the Amaleikites were sorcerers and could change their form to that of an animal[3]].

2. Shaul takes a census:

  • Shaul announced for the people to gather, and counted the nation using sheep [by having every Jew take a sheep and then counting the sheep[4]], and there were 200,000 men. Ten thousand of them were from the tribe of Yehuda.

3. Amaleik is destroyed:

  • Shaul arrived at the city of Amaleik, and they battled by the channel of water.
  • Shaul asks the Keinites to leave the land of Amaleik: Shaul told the people of Keini [i.e. the descendants of Yisro[5]]: Leave from the land of Amaleik [which is by Arad, in southern Israel[6]], lest we kill you together with them. You have done kindness with all the Jewish people when they ascended from Egypt [as your ancestor Yisro greeted us in the desert and rejoiced with us[7], and participated in the meal with Moshe and, Aaron, and all the elders of Israel[8]]. So the Keini left the land of Amaleik.
  • The battle is won: So Shaul smote Amaleik from Chavila Boacha Shur which is opposite Egypt.
  • Agag is captured but let live: They captured Agag, the king of Amaleik, alive. The rest of the nation, however, was killed by the sword. Shaul and the nation had mercy on Agag and allowed him to live.
  • The animals are allowed to live: Shaul and the nation had mercy on all the good, fat and healthy sheep and cattle, and all the good of Amaleik, and they did not desire to destroy it. However, all of their low-quality items were destroyed.

4. Hashem appears to Shmuel and tells him that he regrets appointing him king:

  • Hashem spoke to Shmuel as follows: I have regretted that I appointed Shaul as king, as he has distanced himself from Me and has not fulfilled My word.
  • Shmuel pleads to Hashem: Shmuel became filled with wrath and screamed to Hashem throughout the night.

5. Shmuel chastises Shaul and revokes his monarchy:

  • Shmuel travels to Shaul: Shmuel woke up early in the morning to go greet Shaul. Shmuel was told that Shaul had traveled to Carmel and he has established himself a place [for building an altar there[9] and distribute the spoils[10]], and he turned and crossed towards Gilgal.
  • Shaul tells Shmuel that he has destroyed Amaleik and kept animals for slaughter: Shmuel arrived to Shaul and Shaul told him “Blessed are you to G-d, I have fulfilled the word of G-d.” Shmuel said to him: What are these sounds of sheep and cattle that I am hearing? Shaul replied that they were brought from the Amaleikites, as the nation had mercy on the best of the flock and cattle in order to slaughter them as an offering to G-d, and all the rest of the animals have been destroyed.
  • Shmuel chastises Shaul: Shmuel said to Shaul that he should wait and he will tell him that which G-d has told him the previous night, and Shaul told him to speak. Shmuel told Shaul that although he may be considered small in his eyes [and thought that he could not stop the people from taking the sheep[11]], in truth he is the leader of Israel, as G-d has anointed you king over the Jewish people. Hashem sent you on the road and told you to destroy the sinners, Amaleik, and indeed you battled against them until they were destroyed. Now, why did you not listen to the voice of G-d, and you kept the booty and did evil in the eyes of G-d.
  • Shaul defends his actions claiming he followed G-d: Shaul said to Shmuel: I have followed the word of G-d and have walked in the path that G-d has sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amaleik, and Amaleik I have annihilated. The nation took the booty of flock and cattle, the choicest of the loot, in order to slaughter it to Hashem in Gilgal.
  • Shmuel’s reply: Shmuel replied to Shaul: Does G-d desire the Olos and sacrifices, or for one to listen to His voice. Listening to G-d is greater than the best sacrifice, and is better than the fat of the rams. As you have a done a sin similar to that of sorcery and witchcraft. You have despised the word of G-d, and He in turn has despised you of being king. [Thus, although Shual had already lost the monarchy earlier with his sin of the sacrifices, as explained in Chapter 13, nevertheless, that was atoneable through repentance, while this sin was not. Alternatively, the punishment of that sin was that Shaul would not have his children continue his monarchy, and the punishment of this sin is that his own monarchy will not last long.[12]]
  • Shaul asks for forgiveness: Shaul then said to Shmuel: I have sinned, as I have transgressed the word of G-d, and your instructions, as I have feared the nation [i.e. Doeg Ha’adomi, who was the greatest of the nation[13]] and listened to their words. Now, please carry the burden of my sin and return with me and I will bow to G-d.
  • Shmuel denies his request: Shmuel said to Shaul: I will not return with you, as you have despised the word of G-d, and Hashem has despised you from being king over the Jewish people.
  • Shaul tears Shmuel’s cloak: Shmuel turned to leave and Shaul grabbed at his cloak and tore it. [Some say that Shaul tore the cloak of Shmuel, and others say that Shmuel tore the cloak of Shaul.[14]] Shmuel in return said to him that G-d has torn the monarchy of Israel from him today and has given it to a colleague of yours, who is greater than you. The eternal G-d of Israel does not lie and does not regret, as he is not a person who can regret.
  • Shaul and Shmuel return to the nation and bow before Hashem: Shaul again said to Shmuel: I have sinned. Now, please honor me in front of the elders of the nation and the Jewish people, and return with me and I will bow to Hashem your G-d. So Shmuel followed after Shaul and Shaul prostrated before G-d.

6. Agag is Killed:

  • Shmuel asked for Agag, the king of Amaleik, to be brought to him. Agag went to him from his chains [with great prestige like a king[15]] and told him that indeed he is aware that the bitterness of death has arrived for him.
  • Shmuel responded to him that just as he has caused women to lose their chidlren as a result of his sword, so too your mother will lose her child. Shmuel then dismembered Agag before Hashem by Gilgal [into four parts[16]].

7. Shmuel and Shaul part ways forever:

  • Shmuel then went to Ramasa and Shaul went to his home in Givaas Shaul.
  • Shmuel no longer saw Shaul anymore until the day of his death, being that Shmuel had mourned Shaul.
  • Hashem regretted that He had coronated Shaul as king.


[1] See Metzudos David 15:1; Radak ibid

[2] Metzudos David 15:1

[3] Rashi 15:3

[4] Rashi 15:4

[5] Rashi 15:6

[6] Rashi 15:6

[7] Ralbag 15:6

[8] Rashi 15:6

[9] Rashi 15:12

[10] Metzudos David 15:12; Radak ibid

[11] Radak 15:17

[12] Radak 15:28

[13] Rashi 15:24

[14] Rashi 15:27

[15] See Radak 15:32

[16] Rashi 15:33

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