Hi, I asked a Jewish friend how he would square Ex 23:9,
“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt,”
with 1 Sam 15,
“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”?
He replied, “The Amalekites attacked first and, according to Jewish lore, would never stop attacking until one or the other was completely destroyed. It is therefore considered self-defense.”
I wrote: “But why kill the cattle and sheep, too?”
“Because according to Jewish lore, Amalekites are shapeshifters and could hide within their flocks and such.”
“Interesting what pops up when you type ‘Amalekite shapeshifters’ into Google,” I noted.
One possibility is that the Amalekites were indeed some sort of human-reptilian space alien hybrids which God wanted wiped off the face of the earth. That would mean that the human race lacked unity. Did Christ die for the shapeshifters? Were they devil’s spawn, confirmed in evil like demons? All sufficiently “deep” conspiracy theories one way or another postulate that the “ultimate rulers” of mankind are not truly human: cold, unsympathetic, and full of contempt. Disturbing.
A second alternative was that Samuel was mad and heard voices in the air telling him to order Saul to commit a barbaric and scandalous act of mass murder and destruction.
Another possibility is that just as we do not take early Genesis as a literal scientific account of the pre-history of the universe, earth, man, neither is later Old Testament truthful.
Finally, we can take the view that “do not oppress a foreigner” is a general rule, and “kill all Amalekites” is an exception. Why the exception? Well, first, God has in His hands the threads of fate, of life and death. He has a right to allow anyone to die and even to have anyone killed. Second, God’s providence fulfills the most ambitious strictures of utilitarianism we can think of. So, perhaps the slaughter of the Amalekites somehow served total human happiness; those people were sacrificed for the greater good.
Which account is correct?