I remember reading once (in Sender Zeyv's novel Ten Lost), that some Jewish sources say that Amalekites don't have souls. Obviously, this might not be so reliable, coming from a work of fiction, so I'm asking here. Is there any source (I don't remember if the book quoted one or not) for the claim that members of Amalek don't have souls?

This assumes that gentiles in general have souls, as appears to be the consensus in this question:

(Tell me if I should make this a separate question). If the answer is yes, does that mean they are Philosophical zombies? What would a positive answer (no neshamos) imply about the following:

  • Amalekites having free will
  • Amalekites feeling pain
  • Their being some way to tell the difference (with a regular human) by their behavior
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    Is your third question asking if they could pass a Turing test? Because I very much doubt you'll find a Jewish source answering that in the negative (likewise regarding your second question as to if they can feel pain). As far as your question about free will, see this question, which implies that they have free will.
    – Fred
    May 12, 2014 at 19:30
  • @Fred Is free will necessary for sin?
    – ike
    May 12, 2014 at 19:36
  • They might pass a Turing test while still having discernible differences. (For example, if they didn't feel pain or react to it, that would be one way to tell, unless they "fake" pain like some version of Philosophical zombies.) I just want to know what it would mean for them not to have a soul, if that is the case.
    – ike
    May 12, 2014 at 19:38
  • 1
    Yes, free will is necessary for sin. I'm not aware of a source indicating that they have no soul, though some kabbalistic books indicate that their souls are rooted in evil. They can still choose to change themselves for the better (at least according to some opinions), but this requires a transformation from the default. (Incidentally, this is different from the Christian notion of guilt via original sin. Amalek has an evil nature by default, but this does not make them guilty if they have never done anything wrong. Still, evil needs to be destroyed due to the spiritual danger it presents).
    – Fred
    May 12, 2014 at 20:03

3 Answers 3


There are 2 souls, a Nefesh Elokis and Nefesh Habahamis, a G-dly soul and an animalistic soul. Goyim only have the animalistic soul. All physical desires and worldly pleasures come from the Nefesh Habahamis. The Nefesh Elokis just wants the pleasure of G-d, learning Torah and doing Mitzvos. We are able to use the animalistic soul for the service of G-d, but you need to put in a lot of effort. Goyim don't have a Nefesh Elokis, just a Nefesh Habahamis.

Source: Tanya.

I don't believe that Amoleikim don't have a soul, otherwise how would they be able to speak and do other such things, but I might be wrong.

  • 3
    Sources and an explanation would help... Aug 12, 2014 at 12:25
  • @DannySchoemann Read my edited version. Aug 13, 2014 at 11:56
  • This would seem to contradict the plain meaning of the Torah. In Genesis it talks about the souls that Abraham made - people he converted to monotheism. It would seem that becoming a monotheist endows one with a soul - the person doesn't need to be Jewish. Aug 14, 2014 at 11:06
  • @RobertS.Barnes Where do you see about Abraham making souls? And Abraham didn't convert people to monotheism, he got people to believe in G-d. (Difference: No conversion, believing in G-d is not monotheism, monotheism is believing in only one G-d and no more). Aug 14, 2014 at 13:40
  • 1
    @user3931926 בראשית פרק יב: Hirsch says: "but here, with נפש it can only mean, formed, fresh created. That these fresh formed persons were probably the inmates of their household, and that these had also spiritually attached themselves to them, we can see from Eliezar who shows himself a true גר צדק." Hirsch seems to indicate a very fundamental change in these people - their souls were newly formed, and they were as close to being converts as possible considering that Judaism as a religion didn't exist yet. Basically, I take it as that they "converted" to monotheism. Aug 14, 2014 at 14:24

if they did not have a soul they would not be able to speak intelligently. the onkelos on the chumash defines the soul as the ability to speak intelligently. apparently this is beyond the ability of any kind of purely physical machine (as explained here in more detail)

"...And Man became a living soul," (Genesis 2:7) is translated by Onkelos: "And Man became a speaking spirit."

  • Can they speak intelligently? I suppose I can only think of one place an Amelikite ever speaks אכן סר מר המוות
    – Double AA
    May 13, 2014 at 6:06
  • @DoubleAA they can speak and have free will just like me and you. otherwise they would not be liable for their actions.
    – ray
    May 13, 2014 at 6:08
  • We don't really have evidence that they are liable for their actions. We don't have a Mitzva to kill them for violating Sheva Mitzvot Benei Noach. There is just a command to kill them, like a command to kill an unredeemed firstborn donkey.
    – Double AA
    May 13, 2014 at 6:10
  • @DoubleAA nonjews have 7 mitzvot and will be judged in the future on whether they kept them as explained in tractate avodah zara.
    – ray
    May 13, 2014 at 6:12
  • 1
    Nowhere does it say donkeys are exempt from them either. The ability to convert though is the best point you've made thus far.
    – Double AA
    May 13, 2014 at 13:04

Goyim have both a Nefesh Bahamis and a Neshoma Elokis, meaning the are Tzelem Elokim. Amalek has only a nefesh bahamis like an animal. Some animals, like an amoeba are alive, but low functioning. Some, like a dog or a chimpanzee are very high functioning. Amalek is an animal, nevertheless so high functioning that he has similar capabilities and intelligence just like one endowed with Tzelem Elokim. But due to his lack of TzE, he cannot relate to Hashem and views the Briah as random, without intention or purpose. He desires to destroy any being with high level TzE, such Am Yisroel, in order to eliminate Hashem from this world. He is the progeny of the Nachash Hakadmoni, which was the most intelligent of the animals.

  • 2
    A source would enhance the credibility of this answer. Dec 2, 2015 at 8:13

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