An outcast may come in

The Amalekites — Second in a series

After Jacob had deceitfully obtained God's blessing for the firstborn, Esau was angry and swore to kill him. Rebekah urged Jacob to go to her brother's home and land to take a wife, and Isaac agreed.

Esau, knowing it would aggravate his parents, married another wife from Ishmael's line. Ishmael was the son of Abraham by Hagar, Sarah's servant. Abraham had sent him away, yet God had increased him with prosperity and many sons. Likewise God would increase Esau.

After 20 years, when the time came for Jacob to return home, Esau met him as he journeyed to Canaan And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. (Gen 33:4)

We know from history that this magnanimity and expression of brotherly love did not hold fast, but at this juncture, it was a wonderful thing.

Esau had become a leader of men with a large family and entourage. He had made a home in Seir, a mountainous region south of the Dead Sea. Seir had been the territory of the Horites (Deut 2:12, 22), and Amalek's mother was Seir's daughter (Gen 36:20-22). Her union with Esau's first son may have been to secure the land by marriage yet it seems a division had instead resulted. Amalek dwelled separately from his brothers.

His land is first referenced in Genesis 14 as a territory conquered by Chedorlaomer* (Gen 14:7), apart from the land of the Horites that Chedorlaomer also took.

Moses, who wrote Genesis, lived about six centuries after Abraham and of course knew where the Amalekites lived, south of Edom (Esau's land) in the desert of Zin, as well as west of Edom. Interestingly, Moses did not refer to the Horite's land as that of the Edomites.

Amalek's home in time became part of Judah's original territory (Josh 15:1-12), but Esau's land was not to be disturbed by the Hebrews (Deut 2:5).

Had Amalek been a pure Edomite, he would have been secure, but he was born an outsider. His grandfather, Seir, had lost his land to Esau. His mother was a concubine, not a wife.

There is only one way for the outsider: humility and a posture of learning. The other alternative leads to death.

He could have pondered, "Why were my mother's people dispossessed? Why did my father's people take my mother's land?" In meditation, he might have learned that naked aggression and negotiations that denigrate some people even while assisting others, destroy hearts and lives.

Had Amalek changed in his inner man, a foundation could have been laid for his progeny to succeed as overcomers in the unfair winds of life. Instead, from what we learn of Amalek’s descendants, the root was bitter.

If we will reflect upon our circumstances and fully explore the deeds that led to downfalls, we may find our way to God's pastures where we will be kept from revenge and sorrow.

*since Amalek was the same age as Abraham's great grandsons, the Amalekites would not yet have been a people with territory, but often in Scripture, an area known for a living tribe is referenced accordingly.

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