Please read the first and third section of the previous post because they also apply to this post. Part two in a series of ten will deal with the so called second worst Verse in the Bible; “This is what the Lord Almighty says… ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (1 Samuel 15:3)
First, it is interesting that the originators of this designation as the second worst Bible Verse left out a key component of the verse. The complete verse reads; “2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ ” Waylaid means to lie in wait and ambush. This wasn’t just some random command by God to kill innocent people. The Amalekites were ruthless murderers, the Israelites were not starting a war, they were ending it.
But why would God say to murder children? First, God is the creator of everything and while we will all die and face judgment, it is generally understood that children are judged differently as they have not yet entered the age of reason and therefore enter Heaven much more easily than their adult counterparts. Secondly, the culture of that century (almost 400 years after the Exodus) required the offspring of a defeated nation to avenge the victors. Had the Israelites not killed everyone, the war would have waged on endlessly.
Why kill the animals? I can think of many reasons for this, but I’ll list only a couple. If an avenging nation truly seeks to attain honor by defeating a ruthless peoples, where is the honor in pillaging? A clear statement was made to all the surrounding nations that they should not attack Israel because Israel would retaliate in full and they would do it not to pillage, but as a statement of honor to keep their own people safe form evil murders who would lie in wait to kill innocent people.
Israel was self sufficient and desired nothing but peace. Such a command by God to kill all of the Amalakites and their livestock most assuredly saved more people in the long run from the respect and fear it garnered from the surrounding nations of Israel. More fear and respect meant less murder and avenging wars. Remember, God did not command the Amalkites to lie in wait and murder the innocent Israelites. That was man’s free will.