Book Plunge Part 11: Revenge on the Amalekites

What do I think of Kapr’s treatment of the Amalekites? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I can’t say I was surprised to find this one come up in Kapr’s book. This one I don’t think is really a contradiction so much as saying it sounds like a horrible thing for God to do. One part that is thought to be contradictory is that doesn’t Ezekiel 18 indicate that no one will die for the sins of their parents?

Indeed, it does, which is not necessarily good news. It means that if you face judgment, you have no one to blame but yourself. You can’t point to what Daddy did. You can’t say “I’m suffering because my Dad was a jerk.” Now this doesn’t mean that no child ever suffers from a parent’s sins. We all know about abusive and/or addicted parents and how the children suffer.

So what about the Amalekites. In 1 Samuel 15, Saul goes to war with them for how they treated the Israelites when they left Egypt. Isn’t this punishing children for what their ancestors did centuries ago? It’s understandable to think that way, provided, you know, you ignore the rest of Scripture.

Practically every time the Amalekites show up in Scripture, they’re attacking Israel. The grand example of this is in the book of Esther where Haman is a descendant of these people and decides to use royal authority granted by the king to kill all the Jews. Kapr lives in a modern society where the present time is the most important. In Eastern thinking, the past is still very much with us.

So what about 1 Samuel 15. Not mentioned is that these cities where the Amalekites were were most likely fortresses of sorts where the military bases would be. This also wasn’t necessarily a sneak attack. This means that any women and children would have plenty of time to flee. This isn’t as hard as you might think in the ancient world as war and famine could come at any time and you’d have to pick up and move out.

So what about the morality issue? I saw Kapr deal with many kinds of objections to this, but never to mine. My stance is that the category of morality does not apply to God. After all, morality is doing what you ought to do and there is no “ought” for God. God does not have any moral law above Him that He is obligated to follow.

However, I do contend that what God does is good. God does all that He does for His good and for the good of His creation. It’s a much longer post to talk about what is good, though I would recommend Edward Feser’s Aquinas to look at this question. There are plenty of good things you can do that you have no moral obligation to do.

I then ask people about this about who it is that God has an obligation to grant life to? Who can we look at and say “God has no right to take their life from them!” That includes me and the people that I especially love. It also includes the Amalekites and as we will see later in the Old Testament, the Israelites.

Arguments like Kapr’s can easily pull rhetorical and emotional heartstrings. Unfortunately, they are only persuasive in that regard. Move away from that and they lose a lot.

Once again then, I find nothing convincing here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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