June 2, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 2, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Amalek Style Terrorism and the Lesson of Ziklag

We are told in Devarim (25:17-19) that, of all our enemies, we are never to forget the attack by the people of Amalek. What does it mean when the Torah foretells that Hashem will be waging war against Amalek in each and every generation? Perhaps the answer lies in the tactics that they used: terrorism.

Amalek was not a conventional army that fought the Israelite army. Traditionally, when countries go to war, they have their professional soldiers fight each other. They do not act dishonorably and exclusively target unarmed civilian populations. Amalek was different. Amalek struck the powerless civilians who straggled behind. They did not fight for land or national honor. Instead, they were vulture-like in their tactics, picking off the weak and feeble. In doing so, their aim was to demoralize the new nation of Israel by striking at the weak, the women, the children and the elderly.

We next read about Amalek in Shmuel (I Samuel 30). While two powerful nations were at war with each other, Amalek sneaked in and raided their cities. They burned down the city of Ziklag and captured all the women while their husbands were away at war. Again, they acted dishonorably and targeted the civilian population.

At the time, King David was not yet king of all Israel but was leading a band of loyal followers. He and his men had been living in the Philistine city of Ziklag. While David and his troops were away on a campaign to assist the Philistines, the Amalekites raided Ziklag, burned it and took the women and children as captives. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

When David and his men returned to Ziklag and found it in ruins, they were devastated. The Bible describes David’s response as follows: “Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep,” (1 Samuel 30:4).

In his distress, David sought God’s guidance and inquired of Hashem through the ephod (a priestly garment used for seeking divine guidance). He asked whether he should pursue the Amalekites who had captured their families. With God’s approval, David and his men pursued the Amalekites. They eventually caught up to the Amalekite raiding party, defeated them, and rescued their families. They recovered everything that had been taken, and more. Nothing was missing: David brought back the young, the old, the boys, the girls and all of the plunder the Amalekites terrorists had taken.

The story of Ziklag serves as an example of how faith and resilience, even in the face of great adversity, eventually results in justice being restored. However, it is also eerily similar to what happened in Israel recently when the Hamas terrorists invaded twenty Jewish enclaves in the south.

Most Israelis were caught off guard. Simchat Torah revelry was taking place throughout the country. A peace music festival was taking place that morning with thousands of young men and women. That is when Hamas struck and invaded the country. Rather than fight in a conventional style of war, they chose to attack civilians. They murdered, raped, decapitated babies and burned people alive while they were in their homes. The massacre was horrible and was unprecedented in modern Israeli history.

Just as with David in Ziklag, friends and relatives cried and wept until they had no strength to weep any more. However, if modern day events follow history, we have reason to be optimistic. There is more unity in Israel than ever before. Everyone is contributing to the war effort by either volunteering as soldiers, supporting each other in every imaginable way and by people all over the world saying Tehillim and engaging in Torah-inspired mitzvot.

In the story of Ziklag Hashem, through the ephod, instructs David to pursue the Amalekite terrorists. He states,”You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.” May the same Hashem protect and keep safe the brave Israeli soldiers who are now battling the modern day Hamas terrorists. May he help them rescue all those who have been taken hostage so that they can return home safely. As the Psalmist promises, “Hashem will give strength to his people; Hashem will bless his people with peace,” (Psalm 29:11).


Rabbi Dr. Avi Kuperberg is a forensic, clinical psychologist and a member of the American Psychology-Law Society. He is the coordinator of Bikur Cholim/Chesed at Congregation Torah Ohr in Boca Raton, Florida. He can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles