[An author note has been added to the bottom of this piece, and a separate clarification has been published: click to read.]
1 Samuel 15:18-Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the LORD anointed you king over Israel, 18and the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’ 19“Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD?”…
Saul was anointed king of Israel by G-d and given the mission to join the tribes of Israel as one nation and to protect them against their enemies. This has been the primary job of leaders from the beginning of time-to defend their citizens and national rights before any other obligation. For without security, without the power to protect what is basically, the lives of one’s charges and the land that sustains the people, all else is of less than secondary interest or importance. A nation that will not defend itself, in whatever manner that the “king”, or the president or the prime minister is empowered to do, is not a civilization that will be sustainable nor credible.
There are religious folks that place everything that happens to some esoteric or supernatural dimension, but I, a rather secular man, believe that much of what is in the Hebrew Bible (except for much of the already evidentiary history) as allegorical, and in some manner, presented in order to teach us how to live as a society.
However, the passage from Samuel is an admonishment on the primary duty of a leader. To me, Samuel represents the people of Israel today, questioning and redressing a grievance to the “king,” or, in this case, our prime minister. One might say that the right to redress of grievances as written in many modern constitutional documents, is one of the fundamental rights of a free people in a republic-the inherent obligation of citizens to make their voices heard when their government either fails to carry out a particular policy or fails to adhere to the voice of the electorate that placed them in position of power.
G-d might be meant to illustrate that voice of the people-the vox populi. In this case, G-d had demanded that Saul (or the “prime minister”) enter into battle with the Amalekites (Hamas and its savage partners) and destroy them utterly even if that means to the last child, cow and goat. As cruel as this appears, it is a lesson that teaches a nation in terrible danger that it has a legitimate obligation to put a definite end to a substantial threat. The end of such a conflict must make it impossible for that enemy to rebuild and continue to vex one’s nation forever.
Time and again, throughout Jewish history, we have been told that Amalek will arise in every generation to try to destroy this people. Saul refuses to kill Agag, the king of the Amalekites. In his disobedience, his defying of G-d, is equivalent to our present leadership attempting to fight Hamas while refusing to employ the means to destroy it entirely. By discovering and exploding all the tunnels, or seizing all their arms, is inadequate to assure the utter destruction that is necessary in this war against the Amalekites of today. There must be no quarter given, no “humanitarian ” ceasefires, but a resolute combat without the words and demands of a hateful, hypocritical cabal barking like angry dogs, at our heels.. Because, just as the Amalekites fell upon the rear of the Israelites as they passed through their lands on the way to Canaan, the terrorists will violate every ceasefire, every truce and every politically machined halt to the fighting to retreat and bind their wounds waiting for the next opportunity to attack us.
We have fought for decades against the terrorist threats around us. In 1956, we went to war to eliminate the “fedayeen” (self sacrificers) of that era whose cross border raids into the Negev Desert, killed dozens of innocent Israelis and made life hell for our southern communities.
Again, 58 years later, and several bloody campaigns, thousands of rockets launched into Israel, tunnels dug to enable our enemies to kidnap and murder our people, and the myriad attempts of Hamas and its thugs to bring more and greater weapons of death to their arsenals in order to bleed the people of Israel, we find ourselves in battle with 21st century Amalekites because we have failed to listen to the L-rd, we have failed to kill their king, we have failed to, as Samuel lectured Saul, to “utterly destroy” the foe as the L-rd demanded. As the citizens of the State of Israel demand of their “king.”
Does this mean we, on purpose, kill the innocent? No, that is merely an allegory of Biblical times, an example of the cruelty of ancient warfare. But it does mean that we leave nothing that might sustain a weakened and beaten foe. To destroy Hamas utterly, we cannot stop this war until they unconditionally surrender, even if it means making the war more horrific for the people of Gaza, who are the victims of their own leadership. Just as the Amalekites were the victims of their own king, whom Saul left alive and why today, we fight the modern day Amalekites in every generation.
It’s time to take heed of the words of the L-rd, it is time to do what the people of Israel demand, it is time to kill Agag,
** I sincerely regret causing anyone to think that I am advocating genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza-absolutely not. I only mean to say that the threat posed by Hamas must be eradicated and any civilian casualties, are a human tragedy, No one is as hopeful for a true peace agreement between Israel and all her neighbors as I am.
To those whom I have offended, I apologize for your discomfiture and I meant nothing of what some of you have construed. My point is that to truly promote peace it is necessary to defend against terror and, as in any conflict of arms, innocent people do suffer on both sides. I too, wish to see a free and prosperous Gaza, as it was before Hamas gained control of that territory. but first, we must free Gaza from Hamas and free the citizens of Israel from rockets falling on our cities.