(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Amalek was the grandson of Esau, Jacob’s brother. Amalek’s mother was Timna, concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son. This information is from Genesis 36:10 through 12, which lists “…the generations of Esau…” (Genesis 36:1). Why is it important? In the Ten Commandments (recorded in Exodus 20:1 through 17), the first and second commandments are as follows:
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourselves any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:3-6).
You have probably heard quoted this homespun wisdom: “Like father, like son!” God is saying much the same thing in the second commandment! The son will repeat the father’s sins because he has inherited his father’s genes, mannerisms, and thinking – the way the father perceives (and reacts to) life!
How did Esau perceive (and react to) life?
- He was the born first, before his twin brother Jacob. In the Old Testament Hebrew society, the firstborn was to receive as his birthright…
✡ ...his father’s first and best blessing! ✡ ...a double portion of the family inheritance – a single portion would be given to the other sons!
But in Genesis 25:29 through 34 is the account of Esau trading his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew, some bread, and some water! Yes, Esau was hungry! But he surely didn’t value his firstborn birthright! In verse 34 it says, “…he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
Later, in Genesis 27, Jacob (whose name means “heel-grabber” (or “one who trips up another by deceit”), fooled his aged blind father Isaac into thinking he was Esau. So Jacob stole the blessing his father would give to the firstborn son! What was the best birthright blessing Isaac could have given to his eldest son? It was passing on the Abrahamic Covenant to him! (see Genesis 12:1-3 where God first announced the covenant to Abram). Here is how he blessed Jacob, thinking he was his elder son Esau:
“...may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your breth- ren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you.” (Genesis 27:27 -29).
Isaac, knowing Esau was threatening to kill Jacob for stealing their father’s firstborn blessing; and Isaac also recognizing his younger son was God’s choice to carry on the Abrahamic covenant; he sent Jacob away to northern Mesopotamia, charging him in Genesis 28:1 and 2:
“You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan [the heathen nations surrounding them]. Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father; and take your- self a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.”
And Isaac then further blessed Jacob in Genesis 28:3 and 4, quoting the Abrahamic covenant:
“May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and mul- tiply you, that you may be an assembly of peoples; and give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham.”
Another indication that Esau was a worldly-minded man who lacked spiritual acumen, was what he then did:
...Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac. So Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael...to be his wife in addition to the [two Canaanite Hittite] wives he had. (Genesis 28:8, 9).
Saint Paul (quoting what God said in Malachi 1:2 and 3) summed it up this way in Romans 9:13: “As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’ ”
All this to say that when grandson Amalek came along, he carried that same anti-spiritual worldly mind inherited from his grandfather! And he passed it on to his progeny! It should then be of no surprise that the tribe of “…Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.” (Exodus 17:8). The Israelites had just escaped from Egypt! They were heading towards the Promised Land of Canaan, tired and travel worn, not looking to pick a fight with anyone! Moses later added these details in Deuteronomy 25:17 and 18:
“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.”
The battle is described in Exodus 17:9 through 13. For the sake of space, I will just describe the highlights:
- Moses told Joshua to lead the Israelites men to fight the Amalekites.
- Moses, taking with him “…the rod of God…” (Exodus 17:9), accompanied by his brother Aaron, and another man named Hur, climbed a nearby hill to observe the battle.
- When Moses held high the rod, the Israelites got the upper hand! When his arms got tired and drooped, the Amalekites started winning!
- So Aaron and Hur sat Moses on a rock, and standing on either side of him, held up his arms “…until the going down of the sun.” (Exodus 17:12).
- The Israelites won!
And now, finally, our featured Scripture, Exodus 17:14 through 16:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called its name, The–LORD–Is–My– Banner: for he said, “Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
We will look at how Jehovah Nissi applies to us in the next Gem.