Parashat Vayikra (And He Called)
Vayikra (Leviticus) 1:1–5:26
Special reading for Shabbat “Zachor” (Remembrance) Deuteronomy 25:17–19
Haftarah: 1 Samuel 15:1–44
We have a special reading this week for Shabbat “Zachor” (Remembrance), which is the Shabbat (Sabbath day) before the feast of Purim.
In our special reading of this week’s Parashah, we read:
Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you came out of Egypt, how he confronted you on the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. So it shall come about, when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies in the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to inherit, that you shall wipe out the mention of the name Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.
God’s instructions were to wipe out the name of Amalek from under heaven. That means destroying anything or anyone that was connected to Amalek. Yet, as we will see in our Haftarah portion this week, after Saul was anointed King, he failed to obey what God told to Israel - and later to him - from Deuteronomy 25:17-19.
Then Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD. This is what the LORD of armies says: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, in that he obstructed him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and completely destroy everything that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel, and donkey.
1 Samuel 15:1-3
Saul did not do as the LORD instructed him, as we read:
But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the more valuable animals, the lambs, and everything that was good, and were unwilling to destroy them completely; but everything despicable and weak, that they completely destroyed.
1 Samuel 15:9
Agag was the king of the Amalekites; by sparing Agag’s life, and taking the best of the spoil, Saul disobeyed God, and God rejected him as king (1 Samuel 15:29).
So, what is the connection to our special reading on this Shabbat before Purim? King Saul’s lack of obedience affected the people of Israel for many, many years. In the book of Esther, we read about an evil man who was believed to be a descendent of Agag the Amalekite:
After these events King Ahasuerus honored Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and promoted him and established his authority over all the officials who were with him.
Hamman plotted to destroy the entire Jewish population in Persia, and he made life for the Jewish people there incredibly miserable. However, God prevailed, as did His plan, and Hamman failed to carry out his evil plan. It not only cost his life, but the life of his entire family.
My dear brothers and sisters, one of the main things that one can learn from this week’s special reading is the importance of listening and obeying everything that the LORD has commanded! God does not honor partial obedience. Our disobedience will not just affect us, but possibly generations after us. This is also true of our obedience! I don’t know about you, but I certainly want my obedience to bless those who come after me rather than my disobedience causing harm. How about you?
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