What to Do When the Lord Orders Vengeance

God wanted all of Amalek dead. Saul thought he knew better. What happened next?

From The Death of Agag by Gustave Doré. Wikimedia.

From The Death of Agag by Gustave Doré. Wikimedia.

Atar Hadari
Observation
Feb. 26 2015
About the author

Atar Hadari’s Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award. His Lives of the Dead: Poems of Hanoch Levin earned a PEN Translates award and was released in 2019 by Arc Publications. He was ordained by Rabbi Daniel Landes and is completing a PhD on William Tyndale’s translation of Deuteronomy.


Most weeks, the haftarah—a reading selected from one of the prophetic books of the Bible—is chosen because it shares some theme with the weekly Torah portion. This Shabbat (known as Shabbat Zakhor) is one of the exceptions: since it’s the Sabbath before Purim, the reading, taken from the book of Samuel (I, 15:1-34), involves Agag, the king of the Amalekites and the ancestor of Haman.

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More about: Amalek, King David, Samuel, The Monthly Portion, Torah