Saul bowed his head in assent.

‘Hearken, then,’ said Samuel, ‘unto the words of the Lord who has sent me hither to thee this day. Thou hast grown strong and mighty; thy word is law in Israel. And now it is the Lord’s will that the grievous wrongs which Amalek did against his people after they had been redeemed from Egypt and were as yet a nation of wanderers without a country, weak and ill-armed, shall be avenged, and that justice shall be meted out to them. Arise, then. Gather together thine armies; proclaim a holy war. Summon all Israel to thy standard; and march against Amalek. As for their king, Agag, spare him not, nor any of his people, man, woman or child, nor anything that is his or theirs. They are accursed. Take no spoil or plunder, nothing; neither ox nor sheep nor camel nor ass. Utterly destroy them. Even as the Amalekites vowed to do unto Israel, so do thou unto them.’

Saul heard him in silence; his eyes bent upon the ground. The thing said pleased him greatly, though he misliked the manner of it. He had long looked with envy on King Agag and lusted to go out against him, and defeat and despoil him. And now Jehovah himself had declared his will. Proclamation of a holy war against such an enemy as this would rouse all Israel, and victory was assured. He lifted his head. His keen dark strange eyes rested a moment on Samuel’s face, then faltered and turned away. He vowed solemnly that in all things as Samuel had bidden him, he would obey.

As he had foreseen, when heralds were sent from city to city summoning the people to fight against Amalek, they were enflamed with zeal and ardour. They flocked to his standard and joined the army that was already fully prepared for war, and was mustered at Telaim. And Saul numbered the host that was with him: two hundred thousand men of Israel, spearmen, slingers and bowmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.

Word came to the king that the Kenites, another wandering tribe of the desert who in times long past had been in alliance with Israel, had now joined themselves with the forces under King Agag. Saul therefore sent an envoy to the leaders of the Kenites, assuring them that neither he himself nor his people had any quarrel with them, but remembered well how of old time they had shown kindness to Israel when they had fled out of Egypt and had crossed the Red Sea into the wilderness. He bade the envoy make known to the Kenites how mighty a host he had gathered together, and adjure them to sever themselves from the Amalekites, while there was yet time; lest in the heat and fury of battle they should suffer the fate that awaited King Agag.

The chieftains of the Kenites, having debated the matter in secret, sent back a friendly answer to the king, raised their camp, and withdrew into the desert.

Then Saul marched south against the city of Amalek where King Agag was encamped. He divided his army to hem him in, and he himself with a strong force advanced under cover of night and lay in wait in the valley. When battle was joined, fierce and bloody was the conflict. But though the Amalekites fought on bravely and recklessly until the sun was declining in the west and all hope was lost, the armies of Saul prevailed against them, and of the bodyguard of King Agag not a man was left alive, though he himself was taken.

The troops of Israel pursued the remnant of his tribesmen from Havilah even to the fortified city of Shur on the eastern borders of Egypt. And the city of Amalek was taken and the whole camp with all its spoil, and every living creature found therein of the race of Amalek was put to the sword. Except only Agag. He was brought by Abner to the king, who in the flush and pride of victory spared his life to grace his triumph.

And though Saul gave strict orders that of the booty captured from the enemy all that was of little use and value was to be destroyed, he spared the best of the cattle and the fattest of the sheep and lambs. Moreover, the costliest of the Amalekites’ tents and raiment, their vessels of silver and gold, the jewels, furniture and weapons of the king, and the ornaments and apparel of his women—these were taken and brought into the camp to Saul.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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