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.

Amalek is born

The Amalekites — First in a series

Time began with Seth in the sense that we learn Adam's age at Seth's birth, so from then on we know what year it is.

We read that Adam lived 130 years and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth (Gen 5:3), and that Adam lived 800 years after the birth of Seth. Genesis 5 gives the ages of the patriarchs who descended from Seth.

Though some have speculated that not every generation or son is recorded, conservative Bible scholars agree we live on a young earth and many say we are now roughly 6000 years beyond "In the beginning."

Time began to be marked at the start of a new race of men who called on [in fact, were called by] the name of the Lord. (Gen 4:26) It was not framed by the line of Cain even though his progeny invented music, metallurgy and the science of animal husbandry (Gen 4:19-22) Time is bounded by those who are alive to God, who live for God.

When Christ, the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45), was born, time reversed because men came to recognize in the centuries following there had been a sea change in the world's understanding of life and God.

To preserve a race of men so that Christ would be born in a sanctified family, God carefully guided history. The line of Seth was preserved through Noah, whose son Shem became the forbearer of Abraham. Abraham's grandson Jacob was chosen to become Israel.

Why did the Lord select Jacob and not Esau, the firstborn? Practically speaking, it was because Esau did not demonstrate much interest in God's world. God's world is full of unseen yet very important concepts such as headship which must be exercised, and submission, honor, patience, and glory; things that might never be thought about much, if you're lucky, and Esau was.

Jacob was instead blessed, which is always better than being fortunate. Perhaps, too, God chose Jacob because He desired to create a "breach," that is, to upend the established order. The firstborn should be the leader, but Cain had marred that concept, so to honor Abel, God at times remembered his perfect sacrifice (Gen 4:4) by favoring the second born. Thus we are kept "on our toes." We cannot predict God's movements, so that we must strive to stay close to him, to find out his mind.

Amalek was Esau's grandson, born to a father and mother outside the chosen race. But let's be careful in that observation. Branches were broken off so that you could be grafted in. But if God spared not the natural branches, take heed … (Rom 11:19-21) And remember, the branches referred to are the Jews, so that the sons like Amalek and all us Gentiles could be brought into God's family. But in the end, the Jews will be re-grafted after the fulness of the Gentiles be come in (Rom 11:25) O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable [are] his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (Rom 11:33, 34)

Was Amalek any worse than Jacob's grandsons, Er or Onan? Was Jacob somehow better than Esau? Jacob was a terrible person. When Esau asked him for food, why did he not graciously feed his brother, his twin, seeing he was famished and weak? Why barter for what was rightfully Esau's?

Perhaps his mother had told him God's explanation to her as to why her twins struggled within her: Two nations [are] in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and [the one] people shall be stronger than [the other] people; and the elder shall serve the younger. (Gen 25:23)

Jacob saw a way to make God's words true. What if, instead, he had determined never to do anything in his own power to reverse the birthright order? What if you and I would resolve never to force events, but always to wait on the Lord? Yes, what if, but we often fail and sin.

Isaac and Rebekah were not good parents in certain respects. Each had a favorite son, and that is no way to rear happy children. The Bible does not varnish the lives of those we read about. They are simply presented to us, and we certainly have no difficulty in identifying with them.

We do find that distinctions are drawn and punishments are given, for all. Jacob deceived Esau to gain the blessing (in addition to the birthright), but soon discovered what it feels like to be deceived, when he was given Leah and not Rachel for the wife he worked seven years to attain. God is not mocked. The one who transgresses will be punished and there is no favoritism. Yet, there are distinctions in judgments.

Esau was judged for despising his birthright. His sin is described in Hebrews 12:16 and in verse 17 it is explained: For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Who rejected him? Not Isaac. Rebecca arranged for the deception, but God alone was the arbiter.

Does verse 17 really mean there is no place for repentance in God's providence? Of course not. It means Esau sought his father's blessing with tears because he wanted the privileges; however, he was not willing to exercise obedience to God's rules for life. He had married two Canaanite women, which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah (Gen 26:35) — not just to Rebekah, but to Isaac as well.

The generations of Esau are named in Genesis 36. His first born, Eliphaz, had five sons by an unnamed wife (Gen 36:11), and one by a concubine named Timna. That one was Amalek. (Gen 36:12) He is then noted as a duke, a leader or sheik, of the sons of Adah, Esau's first wife, though he was her grandson. (Gen 36:16). And though a duke, he is not mentioned further in the chapter as having possessed land within Esau's territory.

In First Chronicles, Esau's sons are recorded ahead of Jacob's, and again, Amalek is mentioned last among Eliphaz's sons as a son of Timna, but is not further recognized. (1 Chron 1:36)

Be Goaded

Twenty-first and Final in the Solomon Series

This series of posts began with these words: O Solomon, Solomon, from the heights to the depths, and then back to a level place, but never again to the heights?

I believe Solomon did attain to great heights after his sinful exploits; that is, we will see him in heaven. Some who have studied his life have their doubts. However, God disciplines those whom He loves, and Solomon was disciplined. Also, we have the evidence of his repentance in the book of Ecclesiastes.

There are numerous studies that could be pursued to further explore Solomon's life and influence on Israel and to learn from his writings. In Ecclesiastes 10-12 you will find exhortations to greater diligence and soberness of spirit.

In Ecc 12:12, we read that…"because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, [and] set in order many proverbs." Does that suggest that some of the Proverbs were conceived after Solomon was chastised for his sinful harem? There are many verses in the book of Proverbs that warn against illicit relations. Pro 5:3-5 is one example: For the lips of a strange woman drop [as] an honeycomb, and her mouth [is] smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.

Was Solomon stating what he learned first-hand? Only a Bible scholar with thorough knowledge of chronologies could answer this question.

We have looked at many Scriptures in this study of Solomon, but not at his Proverbs. How could we end a series on Solomon without reading some of these?

  • The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction. 1:7
  • Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 3:5, 6
  • My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son [in whom] he delighteth. 3:11,12
  • Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life. 4:23
  • These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. 6:16-19
  • He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. 13:24
  • In the fear of the LORD [is] strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. 14:26
  • A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. 15:1
  • Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. 16:18
  • The name of the LORD [is] a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. 18:10
  • A [good] name [is] rather to be chosen than great riches, [and] loving favour rather than silver and gold.22:1

These proverbs remind us of Solomon:

  • Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy. 20:28
  • [It is] better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. 21:9
  • Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 22:6

Well, perhaps he will depart, but he will also return.

And finally, from Ecclesiastes 12:11, The words of the wise [are] as goads, and as nails fastened [by] the masters of assemblies, [which] are given from one shepherd.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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