In Samuel 2 chapter 1, the Amalekite lad tells David the news that King Saul is dead and that Saul had asked him to take his life. David sentences the youth to death. The pesukim suggest that the reason for the punishment was because he killed the "anointed one" and he had no right to do so.

Q1- The amalekite was simply obeying the King's command. Which law did he breach to warrant the death penalty? Cannot be Chayav Mita-Murder since there were no witnesses...

Q2 - Being an Amalekite shouldn't he have been put to death for that status alone regardless of his actions?

  • Was the Amalekite even telling the truth or was he trying to get famous? After all, Shmuel I 31:4 says Sha'ul asked his armor-bearer to kill him, but the armor-bearer refused, and so he killed himself. – ezra Aug 9 '17 at 21:05
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    Those are two very different questions. I vote that the second one be split off into its own question - you can bring a similar question from Mordechai and Haman - why didn't he just go ahead and kill Haman when he had the chance, before Haman rose to power? – DonielF Aug 10 '17 at 2:34
  • I think that there is a general rule that one is not allowed to kill someone else even when that person requests it, and even if it is the king who requests it. The prohibition against murder applies to B'nei Noach as well. In either case, the ruling of no witnesses, I think, applies to Jews, not to a non-Jew and in this case, not to an Amalekite. – DanF Aug 10 '17 at 16:52
  • @ezra judaism.stackexchange.com/q/17033 – msh210 Aug 13 '17 at 7:17

How did he warrant the death penalty? Because he rebelled against the anointed king.

"Anyone who rebels against a king of Israel may be executed by the king."

(Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, Melachim uMilchamot Chapter 3, Section 8)

Shouldn't he have been put to death merely for being an Amalekite? No, we are only told kill Amalekites in war after they have refused an offer of peace.

"War, whether obligatory or merely permitted, should not be waged against anyone until they are offered the opportunity of peace as Deuteronomy 20:10 states: 'When you approach a city to wage war against it, you should propose a peaceful settlement.'... If they do not agree to a peaceful settlement... all males past majority should be killed... but neither women or children should be killed... The above applies to a permitted war fought with other nations. However, if either the seven nations or Amalek (upon whom war is obligatory) refuse to accept a peaceful settlement, not one soul of them may be left alive."

(Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, Melachim uMilchamot Chapter 6, Sections 1-4)

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  • Note that this answer does not accord with the first answer provided by the Radak here, as Sha’ul asked the youth to kill him. It is possible to fit this into his second explanation, though, as according to the Amaleki’s lie he would have rebelled against the king and thus been liable to the death penalty. One thing that would improve this answer, however, would be a source that one king can put down a rebellion against another king - perhaps a king can only kill a moreid b’malchus if he himself was the target of the rebellion. – DonielF Aug 17 '17 at 21:40

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