Amalekite - A tribe mentioned in the Bible.
One traditional view is represented by the following extract from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897):
- [The Amalekites were] a tribe that dwelt in Arabia Petraea, between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. They were not the descendants of Amalek, the son of Eliphaz, for they existed in the days of Abraham (Gen. 14:7). They were probably a tribe that migrated from the shores of the Persian Gulf and settled in Arabia. "They dwelt in the land of the south...from Havilah until thou comest to Shur" (Num. 13:29; 1 Sam. 15:7). They were a pastoral, and hence a nomadic race. Their kings bore the hereditary name of Agag (Num. 24:7; 1 Sam. 15:8). They attempted to stop the Israelites when they marched through their territory (Deut. 25:18), attacking them at Rephidim (Ex. 17:8-13; comp. Deut. 25:17; 1 Sam. 15:2). They afterwards attacked the Israelites at Hormah (Num. 14:45). We read of them subsequently as in league with the Moabites (Judg. 3:13) and the Midianites (Judg. 6:3). Saul finally desolated their territory and destroyed their power (1 Sam. 14:48; 15:3), and David recovered booty from them (1 Sam. 30:18-20). In the Babylonian inscriptions they are called Sute, in those of Egypt Sittiu, and the Amarna tablets include them under the general name of Khabbati, or "plunderers."
In Jewish tradition, the Amalekites came to represent the archetypal enemy of the Jews. The name has been applied to many groups seen as implacable opponents, including the Romans, and Nazis, and, amongst some modern right-wing groups, the Arabs. Three of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) followed by Orthodox Jews refer to the Amalekites: to remember what the Amalekites did to the Jews, to not forget what the Amalekites did to the Jews, and to destroy the Amalekites utterly. Rashi explains the last: From man unto woman, from infant unto suckling, from ox unto sheep, so that the name of Amalek not be mentioned even with reference to an animal by saying "This animal belonged to Amalek".