Israel, Hamas, and the Spirit of Amalek
By: David Parsons, ICEJ VP & Senior Spokesman
The savage Hamas pogrom against innocent Israeli civilians on October 7 not only touched the raw nerve of the Holocaust but also exposed the Palestinian dispute with Israel as a conflict not over borders or statehood but a religious war to be fought to the death. Hamas even called their mass assault the “Al Aqsa Storm,” underscoring Islam’s exclusive rival claim to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and even the entire Land of Israel.
So, what is at the source of this religious war?
The late Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Lord Jonathan Sacks, wrote a book that delved into the question: What is the root of religious violence? He noted that many post-Reformation philosophers (Locke, Milton, Spinoza) concluded that the Bible was a dangerous text that had fueled the Hundred Years War, and the remedy was to separate church and state. Yet Sacks cautioned that the text itself is not dangerous—how people interpret and apply it is what makes it dangerous. He also noted, however, that the Bible does point to sibling rivalry as the root of much violence in the world.
Indeed, the book of Genesis especially contains a whole series of sibling rivalries that cause much tension and even bloodshed. The first religious war was between Cain and Abel: one brother grew jealous that the other had offered a better sacrifice to God. Then we have the rivalries between Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers. Sisters also get into the act (consider Rachel and Leah) and mothers like Sarah and Hagar too.
With each set of family rivals, we observe God passing down Abraham’s birthright and blessing by His divine election, and we agree with it. Isaac was the “child of promise.” Jacob valued the birthright. Judah was to prevail over his brothers.
Yet the biblical text also has a counter-narrative that—when read carefully—causes us to have great sympathy for the rejected ones. We are intentionally led by the writer to feel sorry for Hagar and Ishmael dying of thirst in the desert. We sense deep empathy for a weeping Esau and his father Isaac, who “trembles” when he realizes he gave the blessing of the first-born to Jacob.
Even so, both Ishmael and Esau still received great blessings of their own. And all of these broken relations among brothers were eventually mended. Isaac and Ishmael came together to bury their father Abraham. Jacob and Esau embraced in tears. Joseph reunited with his brothers. So the text itself points us to family harmony, as they all end up in reconciliation … except one: Esau’s grandson, Amalek (Genesis 36:12).
Continual War with Amalek
Apparently, Amalek developed a burning jealousy toward the chosen lineage of Jacob, which runs like a thread through the Hebrew Bible. We first see it in Exodus 17:8–16, when Amalek came from a long way off and “fought with Israel in Rephidim.” We see how Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses stood on a hill with the rod of God while Aaron and Hur held up his arms. There, God vowed that “the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
In Deuteronomy 25:17–19, we are given more details why the Lord was so angry with Amalek: because they “attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.” And again, the command comes to “blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.”
In 1 Samuel 15, the prophet Samuel informs Saul that the kingship will be taken from him, because he was not obedient in killing Agag, an Amalekite king.
Then in 1 Samuel 30, David is distraught when his camp at Ziklag is plundered by the Amalekites, who kidnap his wives and take away much loot. After strengthening himself in the Lord, David is told to “pursue and overtake” the raiders and “rescue” the hostages.
Finally, in the book of Esther, we see this ancient rivalry once more when Mordechai, a Benjamite like Saul, faces off against Haman the Agagite—meaning, a descendant of the Amalekite king, Agag. But the beautiful queen Esther fasted and persuaded the king to help save her people. Even so, the Jewish people still had to fight for survival, and amid the battle, she asks for one more day to finish the job.
A Spirit of Endless Envy
We can conclude that the spirit of Amalek is a spirit of undying envy and hostility toward Israel, born of a descendant of Esau who was never able to accept that his grandfather lost the family birthright and blessing to Jacob. This jealous spirit refuses to acknowledge God’s unique, enduring election over Israel for the purpose of world redemption, their distinct blessing, and their sole inheritance of the Land of Israel.
This same spirit of Amalek has attached itself to many peoples and nations over time—for instance, to the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Eventually, it attached itself to Christianity in the form of Replacement Theology (also called Supersessionism), the erroneous teaching that the church has replaced Israel as the elect of God and sole inheritor of His blessings and promises. This bitter root of envy led to the long, tragic history of violent Christian antisemitism against the Jews—the expulsions and inquisitions, the pogroms and forced conversions, right up to the Holocaust. Like the Amalekites, many Christians went out of their way to persecute and kill the Jews – thinking they were doing the Lord’s work.
Islam also has been infected with the spirit of Amalek from its inception. It originated in the seventh century as primarily a rival to Christianity, which by then was the chosen faith of roughly half the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula. Scholars say Mohammad also had Jewish tutors but later turned on the Jews. Thus, the Koran quite oddly contains “Zionist” verses that encourage the Jews to “enter the Land” given to them by God but later includes passages that insist the Jews came from “monkeys and swine.”
Most notably, Mohammad insisted that Allah wanted Abraham’s birthright to pass to Ishmael, but the Jews falsified the biblical text by giving it to Isaac. Muslims even observe the Eid al-Adha (“Feast of Sacrifice”) to mark when Abraham offered Ishmael, not Isaac, as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. Islam further teaches that Mohammad received the Koran from heaven to correct the lies inserted in the Old Testament by Jews and the New Testament by Christians.
Ultimately, Islam claims that the Arabs, as natural descendants of Ishmael and Esau, are really the chosen people, and therefore the Koran can only be read in Arabic. All Muslims, even from other nations and ethnicities, are further taught that they follow a superior revelation from Allah in the Koran, compared to Christians and Jews, which means they are a superior people to those of other faiths.
In other words, we can clearly see the envious spirit of Amalek at work in the religion of Islam from its very beginnings, refusing to acknowledge Israel’s election and claiming it instead for Arabs and Muslims. And when it comes to the “end times,” Islam borrows heavily from biblical prophetic passages about a last-days battle over Jerusalem but twists them to portend Islam’s conquest of the holy city and then the whole world.
This brings us back to Hamas and its cruel frenzy of violence and death on October 7. The Hamas Charter insists that its conflict with Israel is a religious war, not just a territorial dispute, and it centers on first retaking Jerusalem from the Jews. The Charter accuses the Jewish people of seeking to control the world, which is the rightful destiny of Muslims only—thus they are an implacable rival. The Charter also quotes from the Koranic hadith (tradition) that there will be perpetual war between Muslims and Jews until Judgment Day, when a tribe of Muslims (Palestinians) defeat a tribe of Jews (Israel).
“The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to bring the promise of Allah to pass, no matter how long it takes. As the prophet [Muhammad]… said: “The time [Judgment Day] will not come until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them and until the Jew hides behind the rocks and trees, and [then] the rocks and trees will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding [behind me], come and kill him” [Hadith from the collections of Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
So the Hamas Charter itself consigns the Palestinian people to perpetual war with Israel, whether they like it or not. Now recall that God Himself has sworn that “The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:16)
It seems that from the beginning, God knew once He had chosen Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to bring salvation to the world, He would have to guard their descendants from envious religions and ideologies that would arise in every generation seeking to knock them from that pedestal, replace them, and even wipe them out. Thus, the Lord took it upon Himself to always guard the Jewish people from this spiritual onslaught—which includes the threat of Hamas today. And if you ask me whose side am I now standing on, I am on the Lord’s side as He fights with the Amalek spirit driving Hamas to unspeakable atrocities against the Jews.
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is a ministry founded on the realization that Christians in past generations became infected with the envious spirit of Amalek and committed great injustices against the Jewish people, and we are here to help mend those wounds. By the grace of God, our eyes have been opened to see that they were wrong, and we now embrace the enduring election of God over Israel. We are fully secure in our own calling, election and blessing in Christ and are no longer jealous of the Jews.
This demonstrates that as the spirit of Amalek arises in every generation, we all have a choice whether to agree with it or not—including Arabs and Muslims. The sad truth is that this current war was started because many Arabs and their rulers were finally coming to accept the Jewish people’s rightful place in this region. They were saying “no” to that spirit of envy. But because of this war, throngs of antisemites are now brazenly marching in Western cities, proudly waving the Palestinian flag, the new standard of global jihad, and shouting “Free Palestine”—which is now a euphemism for “Kill the Jews!”
Yet polls here in Israel show the vast majority of the Arab sector believe the goal of the current IDF operation in Gaza should be to eliminate or disarm Hamas. They simply do not want to see this vicious ISIS-like jihad carried out in the name of the Palestinian cause.
And the ultimate revenge on Amalek is that they repent, serve the one true God, and respect His irrevocable calling over Israel.