The ways of the Lord are different than the ways of the world and His command to treat our fellow human beings with compassion and dignity extends to even the most personal decisions of intimacy and romance. We have no excuse, whether in the heat of battle or in the heat of family negotiations, to treat one another any differently than His clearly defined terms of respect, honor, and grace demonstrated in this Torah portion.
If you ever wanted to see an expression of God’s heart for the vanquished, the unloved wife, the foreigner, the child, the wicked, and even the care of one’s oxen, this text includes 74 of the 613 mitzvot in one place helping us to see many specific and deliberate ways our faithful Heavenly Father wishes for us to care for one another and those in our care.
The text concludes with the admonition to not forget what Amalek did to them on the road as they were coming out of Egypt.
But what did he do?
Deuteronomy 25:17-19 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the road as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you by the road, attacked those in the rear, those who were exhausted and straggling behind when you were tired and weary. He did not fear God. ” (CJB)
It was a heinous thing in the eyes of YHWH for the weak and powerless to be attacked and plundered. He is a defender of the weak and the refuge for those who need help. Psalm 41:1-2 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. 2 The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.
It is a violation of His nature for injustice and oppression to be found among His people. When we go forth we are not to be like the other nations. We know better and we have the empowerment of the Ruach HaKodesh to teach us and equip us.
But the conclusion of Amalek’s listed grievances was the most tragic. He did not fear God. There could not be wisdom found in him and he became anathema to God’s people. Israel was told to. “…blot out all memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Deuteronomy 25:19) There would be no lasting legacy for this pagan king.
Let’s go forth with the fear of the Lord and, with His banner of love and compassion, of wisdom and kindness, build community that reflects His nature. No shrinking back from battle but stay far from willful destruction, selfish use, and oppression so that our memory can be a blessing and our lives can bring abundant life to a world desperately in need of a Savior.