Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Remembering Amalek

"Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God...  thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it." (Deuteronomy, 25:17-19)

The Amalekites were a nomadic or semi-nomadic group of tribes that  occupied the Nagev Dessert region and Sinai Peninsula when Israel was being led from Egypt to Canaan. The Amalekites were the first group to attack Israel. Later after the 10 spies gave negative accounts of Canaan and Israel was forbidden to enter into Canaan, a group of Israelites decided to go anyways and were killed by the Amalekites. 

What does God mean when He commands Israel to remember Amalek by blotting out his remembrance?  The Amalekites represent the most debased and savage aspects of human nature. The civilized Nephites called those who defected over to the more savage Lamanites Amalekites. 

Biblical Amalekites like the Book of Mormon became "an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey." (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:24)  Instead of being industrious and civilized the Amalekites like the Lamanites became "wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents," (Book of Mormon, Enos 1:20)

In our current day, we are told to appreciate the Noble Savage. Lewis Henry Morgan, an anthropologist, described a ladder of social evolution of man from savage to barbarian to civilized. This atheistic view  assumed man evolved from apes and not from Adam and Eve.  According to the Bible, savage tribes only exist because at some point certain members of the advanced human family decidedly rejected civilization and adopted the savage/ hunter-gatherer lifestyle.  

Morgans views were used to by the United States to conceal the link of the Native American's to the advanced Hopewell/Woodland cultures that once flourished on the North American continent.  This concealment of Native origins was used as a basis and justification to deny Native Americans Constitutional rights according to the policies of Manifest Destiny. 

But what about remembering Amalek by blotting out his remembrance?  This is not talking about genocide, or removing references to Amalek from history books.  Also,  God wasn't necessarily being critical of Amalek's dwelling in tents.  Abraham and Lehi dwelt in tents at certain points. What God is commanding His people to do is to stop thinking and behaving like Amalek. Amalek is a mentality and ideology:  a way of thinking, a way of acting, and a way of seeing the world.

Instead of thinking and acting based on faith, hope, and charity, Amalek lives life based on doubt, fear, and pride.  Amalek is cowardly, unprincipled, and opportunistic.  Amalek attacked Israel's rear killing the elderly and disabled like a pack of Arctic wolves preying herd of caribou. Amalek will lie, cheat, steal and take advantage if he thinks he won't get caught.  Amalek's world is based on scarcity (supply and demand) instead of abundance and consequently he is enticed to take bribes and receiving special privileges above others. 

Korihor sums up the Amalekite ideology when he tells Alma there was no God and no right and wrong "but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength;" (Book of Mormon, Alma 30:17) Without a knowledge of God there would be no reason to not just adopt the doctrine of Amalek and Korihor and eat, drink, be merry and take advantage of our neighbor a bit until we die, especially if we can take advantage without their realizing it and if it benefits our future posterity by providing them greater social and economic power at the expense of others.

God's people, on the other hand, are to act on the principle of faith, integrity, and seek equality of opportunity for the whole human family. God's people know God and follow His commandments.  God's people enter into covenants with God through the ordinances of baptism and in God's Holy Temple which help man keep God's commandments even when the world's circumstances give them every excuse to be an exception.

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