In 1 Samuel 15:1-3 (NASB)

Then Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord of armies says: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, in that he obstructed him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and completely destroy everything that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

We have seen extermination in other passages like Deuteronomy 2:34 and Joshua 6:17-19. Yet, this time, given that it was targeted to Amalek, was this meant to be the fulfillment of Numbers 24:20 (NASB)?

And he looked at Amalek and took up his discourse and said,

“Amalek was the first of the nations,

But his end shall be destruction.”

1 Answer 1


The history of the Amalekites is long and tortuous (see appendix below). However, I note that there are several prophecies of the final annihilation of the Amalekites such as:

  • Ex 17:14-16 - Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as a reminder and recite it to Joshua, because I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and named it The LORD Is My Banner. “Indeed,” he said, “a hand was lifted up toward the throne of the LORD. The LORD will war against Amalek from generation to generation.”
  • Deut 25:19 - When the LORD your God gives you rest from the enemies around you in the land that He is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you are to blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!
  • Num 24:20 - Then Balaam saw Amalek and lifted up an oracle, saying: “Amalek was first among the nations, but his end is destruction.”

These prophecies were not fulfilled in a single battle or event. However they were fulfilled over a time beginning with Saul (1 Sam 15) and later David (1 Sam 27:8, 30:1, 17, 18).

The last of the Amalekites was possibly Haman, the descendent of King Agag. Therefore, the battle recorded in 1 Sam 15 was the first of a series of battles that reduced the Amalekites significantly each time. Even David's final battle killed most but -

1 Sam 30:17 - David and his men rushed in among them and slaughtered them throughout that night and the entire next day until evening. None of the Amalekites escaped except 400 young men who fled on camels.

Appendix - History of Amalekites

  1. Their first encounter with Israel was when they attacked the rear of Israel but were defeated by Joshua at Rephidim (Ex 17:8-13, Deut 25:17, 18). This brought a curse of ultimate annihilation from Moses (Ex 17:14-16, Deut 25:19) and Balaam (Num 24:20).
  2. Amalekites oppresses Israel with the help of Moab (Judges 3:12, 13)
  3. Amalekites appressed Israel with the help of Midian (Judges 6:3, 7:12)
  4. Saul conducted military campaigns against the Amalekites that while under God's instruction did not please God because the annihilation was far from complete and probably only included most of the army. Samuel executed their king Agag (1 Sam 15) because Saul had not! Saul was severely rebuked for this incomplete job and his attempt at "spin" by suggesting that all had been eliminated when, clearly, they had not.
  5. King David fought several battles with the Amalekites (1 Sam 27:8, 30:1, 17, 18).
  6. The last remnants appear to have been largely eliminated by the tribe of Simeon during the time of Hezekiah (1 Chron 4:42, 43)
  7. Haman in the Book of Esther was a descendant of the king Agag that Samuel executed (see 4 above).

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