Inspired by this:

The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim 6:1 writes:

אין עושין מלחמה עם אדם בעולם, עד שקוראין לו לשלום--אחד מלחמת הרשות, ואחד מלחמת מצוה

War is not waged with anyone in the world until they were offered peace...

and in 6:6 the Rambam includes Amalek in this rule:

אבל שבעה עממין ועמלק שלא השלימו, אין מניחין מהם נשמה

If the Seven Nations or Amalek do not accept peace, wipe them out.

In the story of King Saul's war on Amalek (Samuel 1 15:1-9), there is no mention of any offering of peace before Amalek is destroyed. Is there any reference to such a communication, and if not how does the Rambam know to include Amalek in this rule? I would have considered that as Hashem is in a constant state of war with Amalek (Shemos 17:16) and we are instructed to erase their memory (Devarim 25:19), there would be an objective desire to have the war with them, and making peace would not suffice.


2 Answers 2


The Chidushei HaGriz (§ 161) comments that the narrative between Shmuel and Shaul is a basis for the Rambam's opinion in 6:4. In verse 18, Sh'mu'el says that Sha'ul was told to destroy אֶת-הַחַטָּאִים אֶת-עֲמָלֵק:

And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said: Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. (Mechon Mamre translation)

The Brisker Rav inferred that this indicates that they did not accept the seven mitzvos or terms for peace (both of which are necessary criteria according to the Kesef Mishne's interpretation of the Rambam1), otherwise they would not have been called "sinners":

שמואל א' (ט"ו י"ח) וישלחך ה' בדרך ויאמר לך והחרמתה את החטאים את עמלק וגו'. מדקאמר "את החטאים" מכאן מקור לשיטת הרמב"ם פ"ו מה' מלכים ה"ד, דעמלק אם קבל ז' מצוות והשלים אין הורגים אותו, ע"ש ודו"ק.

1The Kesef Mishne writes (ibid.): אפשר לטעון בעד רבינו ולומר שבכלל השלימו הוא קבלת שבע מצות שאם קבלו עליהם שבע מצות הרי יצאו מכלל שבעה עממין ומכלל עמלק והרי הם כבני נח הכשרים. This seems to put the Rambam's opinion at odds with the position of the M'chilta (end of B'shalach): ר' אליעזר אומר נשבע המקום בכסא הכבוד שלו שאם יבא אחד מכל אומות העולם להתגייר שיקבלוהו ולעמלק ולביתו לא יקבלוהו.

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    I wonder how the mchilta reconciles with either Shmuel bar Shilas or Rabbi Akiba being a descendant of Haman
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 4:34
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    @BabySeal It likely assumes that Haman wasn't actually from Amalek.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 4:58
  • @BabySeal Not really sure what you are asking. That Haman is a descendant of Agag, King of the Amalekites, is a Midrash Aggada. I see no reason to assume the Michalta, or anyone else really, thought it was meant literally, especially given its context.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 5:06
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    @BabySeal The Maharam (Shu"t 3:272) suggests that they were descended from Haman's daughter, whereas lineage of foreign nations is patrilineal: ומה שהקשה רו"מ בהא דמבני בניו של המן למדו תורה מהמכלתא סו"פ בשלח דאין מקבלין גרים מעמלק. כבר קדמו בס' עיין יעקב לסנהדרין צ"ו ואולי י"ל דהא באומות הלך אחר הזכר והם הי' גרים מבתו של המן והזכר הי' מאומה אחרת.
    – Fred
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 5:20
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    @DoubleAA Interesting idea. Can you post a link with information about this city?
    – Fred
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 6:35

Please see the sources cited in this essay


"Rambam outlines a Jewish etiquette of war: Before the military option is exercised, the diplomatic option must be explored. The opposing side should be offered a non-violent resolution that would make co-existence possible, which includes acceptance of a basic code of moral behavior based on the seven Noachide Laws, and political status of a protected minority. This offer is extended to any and all other nations, including Amalek. This teaches us that when Amalek accepts the seven Noachide laws, they lose the status of Amalek and Jewish Law no longer requires their annihilation.

In other words, there are three possibilities for an individual born of Amalekian blood: a) maintaining his initial status of Amalekite and thus being slated for obliteration; b) accepting the seven Noachide laws and political subjugation, at which point his status becomes that of a righteous gentile; and c) full-fledged conversion."

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    Hi Ari and welcome to Mi Yodeya. We're looking for answers that are a little more developed than just links; can you edit in a short summary of the essay? (It's ok to quote short excerpts from it if that's easier.) We'd like to make sure that answers remain helpful even if links stop working. Thanks. Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 13:42

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