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Shabbat Zakhor

Samuel 15:1-34

Ashkenazim begin at 15:2

This translation was taken from the JPS Tanakh

Chapter 15
1 Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you kin over His people Israel. Therefore, listen to the Lord's command!

2 "Thus said the Lord of Hosts: I am exacting the penalty for what Amalek did to Israel, for the assault he made upon them on the road, on their way up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack Amalek, and proscribe all that belongs to him. Spare no one, but kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings, oxen and sheep, camels and asses!"

4 Saul mustered the troops and enrolled them at Telaim: 200,000 men on foot, and 10,000 men of Judah. 5 Then Saul advanced as far as the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the wadi. 6 Saul said to the Kenites, "Come, withdraw at once from among the Amalekites, that I may not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they left Egypt." So the Kenites withdrew from among the Amalekites.

7 Saul destroyed Amalek from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is close to Egypt, 8 and he captured King Agag of Amalek alive. He proscribed all the people, putting them to the sword; 9 but Saul and the troops spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the second-born, the lambs, and all else that was of value. They would not proscribe them; they proscribed only what was cheap and worthless.

10 The word of the Lord then came to Samuel: 11 "I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned away from Me and has not carried out My commands." Samuel was distressed and he entreated the Lord all night long. 12 Early in the morning Samuel went to meet Saul. Samuel was told, "Saul went to Carmel, where he erected a monument for himself; then he left and went on down to Gilgal."

13 When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, "Blessed are you of the Lord! I have fulfilled the Lord's command." 14 "Then what," demanded Samuel, "is this bleating of sheep in my ears, and the lowing of oxen that I hear?" 15 Saul answered, "They were brought from the Amalekites, for the troops spared the choicest of the sheep and oxen for sacrificing to the Lord your God. And we proscribed the rest." 16 Samuel said to Saul, "Stop! Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night!" "Speak," he replied. 17 And Samuel said, "You may look small to yourself, but you are the head of the tribes of Israel. The Lord anointed you king over Israel, 18 and the Lord sent you on a mission, saying, 'Go and proscribe the sinful Amalekites; make war on them until you have exterminated them.' 19 Why did you disobey the Lord and swoop down on the spoil in defiance of the Lord's will?" 20 Saul said to Samuel, "But I did obey the Lord! I performed the mission on which the Lord sent me: I captured King Agag of Amalek, and I proscribed Amalek, 21 and the troops took from the spoil some sheep and oxen-the best of what had been proscribed-to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal." 22 But Samuel said:

"Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As much as in obedience to the Lord's command?
Surely, obedience is better than sacrifice,
Compliance than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
Defiance, like the iniquity of teraphim.
Because you rejected the Lord's command,
He has rejected you as king."

24 Saul said to Samuel, "I did wrong to transgress the Lord's command and your instructions; but I was afraid of the troops and I yielded to them. 25 Please, forgive my offense and come back with me, and I will bow low to the Lord." 26 But Samuel said to Saul, "I will not go back with you; for you have rejected the Lord's command, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel."

27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul seized the corner of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, "The Lord has this day torn the kingship over Israel away from you and has given it to another who is worthier than you. 29 Moreover, the Glory of Israel does not deceive or change His mind, for He is not human that He should change His mind." 30 But [Saul] pleaded, "I did wrong. Please, honor me in the presence of the elders of my people and in the presence of Israel, and come back with me until I have bowed low to the Lord your God." 31 So Samuel followed Saul back, and Saul bowed low to the Lord.

32 Samuel said, "Bring forward to me King Agag of Amalek." Agag approached him with faltering steps; and Agag said, "Ah, bitter death is at hand!"

33 Samuel said:

"As your sword has bereaved women,
So shall your mother be bereaved among women."

And Samuel cut Agag down before the Lord at Gilgal.

34 Samuel then departed for Ramah, and Saul went up to his home at Gibeah of Saul.


In addition, there is a special Torah reading for Shabbat Zakhor, which is reprinted below.

Deuteronomy 25:17-19
17 Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt — 18 how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear. 19 Therefore, when the Lord your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!

Taken from Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures, (Philadelphia, Jerusalem: Jewish Publication Society) 1985.
Used by permission of The Jewish Publication Society. Copyright ©1962, 1992
Third Edition by the Jewish Publication Society. No part of this text can be reproduced or forwarded without written permission.
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