The Talmud in Sanhedrin (99b) states:

בעיא לאיגיורי באתה אצל אברהם יצחק ויעקב ולא קבלוה הלכה והיתה פילגש לאליפז בן עשו אמרה מוטב תהא שפחה לאומה זו ולא תהא גבירה לאומה אחרת נפק מינה עמלק דצערינהו לישראל מאי טעמא דלא איבעי להו לרחקה

Timna sought to convert. She came before Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they did not accept her. She went and became a concubine of Eliphaz, son of Esau, and said, referring to herself: It is preferable that she will be a maidservant for this nation, and she will not be a noblewoman for another nation. Ultimately, Amalek, son of Eliphaz, emerged from her, and that tribe afflicted the Jewish people. What is the reason that the Jewish people were punished by suffering at the hand of Amalek? It is due to the fact that they should not have rejected her when she sought to convert.

Per this Talmudic piece, since Yisrael "struck the first blow," Amalek is/was 'justified' in causing Jewish suffering.

And yet we have a mitzva to destroy Amalek. Is this because of the suffering they cause? If so, what gives?

  • 4
    Does refusing to let someone convert give them justification to becoming one's mortal enemy?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 20 at 11:45
  • 1
    Some other interesting tidbits I came across: 1) The Diqduqe Soferim states that the phase מאי טעמא דלא איבעי להו לרחקה is not found in early manuscripts. 2) The Midrash Tanhuma states that Timna was a mamzereth. 3) Gen. Rabbah 39:14 states that Sarah was responsible for converting women, which sounds like a contradiction to this Gemara. Feb 20 at 17:25
  • 1
    – The GRAPKE
    Feb 20 at 18:47
  • "My significant other broke things off for no good reason, so I firebombed his house." Relatable vis-a-vis human nature? Yes. Justified? No.
    – Shalom
    Feb 21 at 13:32
  • @ Shalom. Thx. Yes ... maybe Amalek's method is the problem.
    – GratefulD
    Feb 21 at 13:33


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