(am' ay lehk ite) A nomadic tribe of formidable people that first attacked the Israelites after the Exodus at Rephidim. Descendants of Amalek, the grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:12), they inhabited the desolate wasteland of the northeast Sinai peninsula and the Negeb. They were the first to attack Israel after the Exodus (Numbers 24:20). Israel won the initial battle (Exodus 17:8-16), but later was driven back into the Sinai wilderness by a coalition of Amalekites and Canaanites (Numbers 14:39-45). Thereafter the Amalekites waged a barbaric guerrilla war against Israel (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). Fighting continued after Israel settled in Canaan. Because of their atrocities, God commanded Saul to exterminate the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:2-3). Saul disobeyed, and the Amalekites were not defeated completely until late in the eighth century B.C. (1 Chronicles 4:43). No archaeological data concerning the Amalekites has been discovered to date. See also Exodus and Negeb.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'AMALEKITE'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".