Spirit of Amalek Reincarnated
Today’s Text: Esther 3:8-10
Just before Purim, more than 170 tombstones were toppled in the Chesed Shel Emeth Jewish cemetery in St. Louis—one of the oldest in the state of Missouri.
A week later, some 100 headstones were overturned at the Mount Carmel Jewish Cemetery in northeast Philadelphia.
The following Monday, bomb threats prompted the evacuation of Jewish community centers in Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs of South Jersey and Delaware.
More than 90 bomb threats targeted Jewish community centers stateside since January 2017.
Who would do such a thing?
The facts will emerge with criminal investigation of potential hate crimes and alleged perpetrators will be identified. However, a bigger question looms.
Why wantonly desecrate Jewish cemeteries or target Jewish community centers with bomb threats?
These incidents are a startling reminder that anti-Semitism is alive and active in the 21st century.
While there is no end to discourse about the geopolitical and societal factors, biblical history offers a little discussed and mostly ignored perspective:
“Remember what Amalek did to you [Israel] on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God” (Deut. 25:17-18).
The old new trend of viewing the Bible as allegory robs Christendom of a practical reading of the text. If on the other hand, you are willing to allow for a literal grammatical hermeneutic, the context offers a foundational perspective of an ingrained and ancient attitude.
THE ANCIENT SPIRIT OF AMALEK
Moses draws our attention to the spirit behind anti-Semitism in the recounting of Amalek’s cowardly act of aggression toward the fledgling nation of Israel. Utilizing a rear attack where Israel’s most vulnerable straggled behind, a direct correlation is made to the reality that the Amalekite nation “did not fear God.”
The nexus between Amalek and the first calculated attempt to annihilate the Jewish population of Persia is recorded as follows:
Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other people’s, and they do not keep the king’s laws.
Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain. If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they be destroyed . . . So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. “
Note, Haman is recognized as “the enemy of the Jews” and infamously known for his hatred for God’s Chosen People. (v. 10). His was more than prejudice or a case of intolerance. As an Agagite, Haman was genetically linked to the royal family of the Amalekites who were ancient and persistent enemies of Israel.
The Agagites were descendants of Esau through Amalek (Gen. 36:15-16 cf. 1 Sam. 15:8). Their animus for Israel began with Esau who sold his birthright to his twin brother Jacob for a lentil stew supper.
With careful reading, we find that Jacob did not in point of fact trick Esau out of his birthright as commonly taught. Scripture reveals that Esau had no interest in his birthright and willingly gave it away (Gen. 25:31-32). God and the birthright were irrelevant to Esau in the context of everyday reality.
Yet, despite the knowledge that Jacob was God’s choice as the heir of promise, Isaac determined to bestow the covenantal blessing upon his firstborn, Esau (Gen. 25:23). The timely intervention by his wife Rebekah prevented him from making a grave mistake.
Scripture tells us Isaac was visibly shaken when he realized the monumental transgression he nearly committed (Gen. 27:33). Esau responded with rage vowing to kill Jacob (v. 41).
Jacob ultimately reconciled with his older twin. In spite of the reconciliation, years of unbridled hostility toward Jacob would become an ingrained character trait among Esau’s descendants (Gen. 33:4; Amos 1:11).
One of Esau’s grandson’s was the man, Amalek, for whom the Amalekite nation was named (Gen. 36:12; 1 Chr. 1:36). It was his descendants that attacked Israel immediately after their Red Sea crossing. This is the setting for God’s curse of Amalek as reiterated by Moses:
“the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” (Ex.17:16).
God commanded Israel’s first king, Saul, to act as His hand of judgment. Saul destroyed most of the Amalekites with a few exceptions. He kept the choice livestock for Israel and allowed the family of King Agag to escape.
Saul’s disobedience would have millennia-long implications (1 Sam. 15:20, 22-23). Haman was a descendant of Agag’s family.
Utterly repugnant to God, Esau’s audacious spirit was modeled and passed to successive generations from his grandson Amalek through the lineage of Agag to the chief officer of Persia— “Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews“ (Est.3:10).
Clash of Worldviews
Amalek hated Israel; Haman despised the Jewish people. Haman’s charge against the Jewish people centered on the principles driving the culture of Judaism as reflected in his observation:
“their laws are different from all other people’s” (Est. 3:8).
In the pagan environment of Persia, the exiled Israelites who remained in the empire were unique. Israel’s worldview was distinctive. They worshipped the One-true God.
In Haman’s mind, the traditions and lifestyle of the Jewish people were an undesirable incongruity threatening the status quo. The spirit of Amalek drove his obsession for genocide of the Persian Jewish population.
But, Haman was not the first to express animus for the Jewish people, nor sadly the last.
20TH CENTURY SPIRIT OF AMALEK
In a reincarnation of the spirit of Amalek, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime instigated the most aggressive program to annihilate the Jewish people in the history of mankind. The Nazi Holocaust claimed the lives of more than 6 million Jewish people as Hitler attempted to wipe them from the globe.
Although many have endeavored to analyze his hatred for the Jewish people—pointing to negative personal encounters, the social climate of Europe and Hitler’s lust for global domination—history demonstrates something much more sinister.
Survival of the Fittest?
Hitler espoused a naturalistic ideology heavily influenced by Darwinism. He was committed to an extreme application of the “survival of the fittest” on both an individual and national level.
Hitler called the Jewish people “unnatur” (against nature). As a people group, the Jewish people lived by a standard that countered Hitler’s belief that man existed solely for the “purpose of struggle to take things from others.” (1)
Hitler rightly believed that the structures bringing order and stability to society—whether social standards, legal contracts, trade guilds and even Christianity—originated with the Jewish people. He was convinced that the complete eradication of Jewish influence would return the world to its primeval condition of ethnic conflict and struggle—anarchy.
A visit to any Holocaust museum reveals the meticulous documentation of the Nazi’s systematic attempt to exterminate the world’s Jewish population. As ridiculous as it sounds, Hitler and the Nazis believed the world would thank them for their “final solution” to erase the “Jewish problem.”
In spite of the horrors of the Holocaust, Hitler’s agenda went beyond his attempted annihilation of the Jewish people. Genocide was planned as a first step in his goal to remove God completely from culture.
According to Baldur von Schirach, the leader of what became known as the Hitler Youth, “the destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as the purpose of the National Socialist movement from the beginning.” (2)
Contrary to common misperceptions, Hitler was not a Christian in any traditional sense of the term. He even told one of his associates, Hermann Rauschning, “One is either a Christian or a German. You can’t be both.”
Replacing the Bible in public schools with his own “Mein Kampf,” the Nazi regime began a concerted effort to replace orthodox Christianity with what was termed “Positive Christianity”—Norse paganism melded with elements of Christianity. (3)
It was not unusual for Nazi agents to interrupt church services using strong-arm intimidation to confiscate the pastor’s sermon notes replacing them with propaganda of the Nazi party.
Hitler’s attitude toward the Jewish people was more than a case of intense prejudice or extreme discrimination.
An Existential Threat?
Hitler was convinced that the Jewish people were an existential threat to the planet. He actually used the term “virus” to describe the Jewish influence on history and the world. While I hesitate to quote the modern era’s most maniacal tyrant, the following reveals Hitler’s twisted mindset—the very reincarnation of the spirit of Amalek:
“The discovery of the Jewish virus is one of the greatest revolutions that have taken place in the world. The battle in which we are engaged today is of the same sort as the battle waged, during the last century, by Pasteur and Koch. How many diseases have their origin in the Jewish virus!” (4)
Conversely, Hitler admired Islam as a religion compatible with military totalitarianism and his obsession for power and glory that conveniently melded with his deviant plans for the extermination of the Jewish people.
He also expressed open disdain for the legendary Germanic statesman and military leader, Charles Martel, who decisively stopped the violent spread of Islam into Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D.
In a defiant and telling move, Hitler met with Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini in Berlin on November 28, 1941 to coordinate Middle East Arab and Nazi policies. With the same enemies and corresponding hatred for the Jewish people, Hitler welcomed cooperation in accomplishing his objectives.
Like Haman, Hitler justified his determination to annihilate the world’s Jewish population on the basis of his perception of an incompatible worldview.
21st CENTURY SPIRIT OF AMALEK
The spirit of Amalek has once again been reincarnated on a level even more insidious than previously experienced. That same spirit fuels anti-Semitic hatred that has been building for decades in post-war Europe with tentacles piercing into most countries of the Western world. The broad ramifications, however, are even more pervasive.
We won the war against Hitler at great cost. A total of more than 14 million in the Allied Forces of World War II including 309,000 American soldiers gave their lives fighting the evil Nazi regime. (5)
All told, more than 45 million civilians died. The war created at least 60 million DPs (displaced persons)—refugees robbed of their fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandchildren, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, homes, possessions, livelihoods, legal status and national identities—including some of our own relatives—with as many as 1 million remaining unsettled some five years after the war ended. (6)
Few escaped without loss of some family members in the mayhem caused by Hitler’s murderous rise to power. The freedoms and comforts we enjoy today came at great cost to that generation. They paid an enormous price of personal sacrifice. We owe them a debt that is impossible to fully comprehend.
But I keep asking myself, have we learned anything from the past about the spirit of Amalek?
In the reincarnated spirit of Amalek, today’s enemies of the Jewish people equally despise what makes God’s Chosen People distinctive. As with Hitler, the observable spirit is not only focused on Israel and the Jewish people, but also the Judeo-Christian worldview that counters popular culture. We need look no further than recent protests degenerating into anarchy that have fueled an intensifying disdain for people who espouse the principles of biblical faith.
There has never been a more crucial moment for Christians to stand in solidarity with the Jewish people against the determination to destroy any influence coming from the Judeo-Christian community. With the reincarnated spirit of Amalek knocking on the front door, how will you respond?
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken authentically communicates biblical truth making his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Emphasis added.)
(1) Delman, Edward, “Understanding Hitler’s Anti-Semitism”, The Atlantic, September 9, 2015.
(2) Selwyn Duke, “Hitler and Christianity”, The New American, June 8, 2008.
(3) Truman, Chris, “Positive Christianity”, The History Learning Site, August 2016.
(4) Adolf Hitler, Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-1944, (New York: Enigma Books, 1953), 332.
(5) Estimated war dead World War II, war chronicle on-line.
(6) Rothman, Lily and Ronk, Liz, “This Is What Europe’s Last Major Refugee Crisis Looked Like.” TIME History, September 11, 2015.
1) Nighttime view of Israel from space. By NASA Earth Observatory [PD-Hubble], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
2) Detail of the Knesset Menorah: “Moses Prevails Over the Amalekites,” as in Exodus 17:8-16). By Deror avi (Own work) [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios