The Amalekites are descendants of Esau’s son Eliphaz (Gen.36:15-16; 1 Chron. 1:36) who fought against Israel after they had left Israel and were tired and worn in the wilderness. The Amalekites lived in the Negev south of Beersheba in the deserts of Zin and Shur. When Israel passed by them on their Exodus from Egypt, the Amalekites attacked the straggles and the weak at the back of the
Samuel sent King Saul to fulfill this command from God to Moses in 1 Samuel 15 when the Lord said:
Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 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. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’ ” - 1 Samuel 15:1-3
Saul began in obedience as is seen below, but ended in disobedience by tempering the destruction and sparing some of the livestock and the King of the Amalekites:
“So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine.” - 1 Samuel 15:4-5
Because Saul compromised the Lord’s anger and did not complete his command to “totally destroy” the Amalekites the kingdom was taken from Saul (1 Samuel 15:10-34) when Samuel said to Saul:
“The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” - 1 Samuel 15:28, 29
The Amalekites showed no fear of the Lord and no respect for his plans and his people. God gave Israel a command through Moses to Joshua that day in the wilderness after they had defeated the Amalekites in battle:
“Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” – Exodus 17:14
Since Israel was under a covenant treaty with the Lord it was Israel’s responsibility to bless the friends of the Lord, but also to side with the Lord in battle against his enemies. The Amalekites were one of those enemies of the Lord that Israel was required to fight against and destroy because they had a covenant with the Lord.
Exod. 17:8-16; 1 Chron. 4:42-43
Haman, the enemy of the Jews in the book of Esther, was identified as a descendent of the Amalekites through the royal line of the King Agag who was killed by Samuel (Esther 3:1-6).