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Saul Spares Agag of Amalek

15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Adonai sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, listen to the voice of the words of Adonai! Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot: ‘I remember what Amalek did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike down Amalek and put all he has under the ban of destruction—so have no pity on him; but kill both men and women, children and nursing infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

So Saul summoned the troops and numbered them in Telaim: 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah. Saul advanced to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, get down from among the Amalekites, or else I may destroy you with them—for you showed kindness to all Bnei-Yisrael when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites withdrew from among the Amalekites.

Then Saul struck down the Amalekites from Havilah until you come to Shur, which is close to Egypt. He captured King Agag of Amalek alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag as well as the best of the sheep, the cattle, even the fatlings and the lambs, and all that was good, since they were not willing to utterly destroy them; everything that was worthless and feeble, they destroyed completely.

10 Then the word of Adonai came to Samuel saying: 11 “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” So Samuel was troubled and cried out to Adonai all night long. 12 Then Samuel rose early in the morning to confront Saul. But it was reported to Samuel saying, “Saul went to Carmel—for some reason, he erected a monument for himself. Then he turned and went down to Gilgal.”

13 Now when Samuel reached Saul, Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of Adonai! I have carried out Adonai’s command.”

14 But Samuel said, “Then what is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?”

15 “They brought them from the Amalekites,” Saul replied, “for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to Adonai your God—but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

16 “Stop!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what Adonai said to me last night.”

“Say on,” he said.

17 Then Samuel said, “Isn’t it true, though you were insignificant in your own eyes, that you were made head of the tribes of Israel? Adonai anointed you king over Israel! 18 Then Adonai sent you on a mission and said: ‘Go and utterly destroy the Amalekites, the sinners, and wage war against them until you annihilate them.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of Adonai, but rushed greedily onto the spoil—doing what was evil in Adonai’s eyes?”

20 “But I did obey the voice of Adonai,” Saul said to Samuel. “I went on the mission on which Adonai sent me, and brought back Agag the king of Amalek—and utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen—the best of what was under the ban of destruction—to sacrifice to Adonai your God in Gilgal.”

22 Samuel said:

“Does Adonai delight in burnt offerings
    and sacrifices
    as in obeying the voice of Adonai?[a]
    Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
    to pay heed than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination

and stubbornness is like iniquity

    and idolatry.
    Since you have rejected Adonai’s word,
    He has also rejected you as king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned! For I have transgressed against the word of Adonai and your words—because I feared the people and listened to their voice. [b] 25 So now, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship Adonai.”

26 But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of Adonai, and Adonai has rejected you as king over Israel.”

27 As Samuel turned about to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. 28 Then Samuel said to him, “Adonai has torn the kingship over Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor who is better than you. 29 Moreover, the Eternal Glory of Israel does not lie or change His mind.[c] For He is not human that He should change His mind.”

30 Then Saul said, “I have sinned! But please, honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me until I bow in worship to Adonai your God.” 31 So Samuel returned after Saul, and Saul bowed in worship to Adonai.

32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag the king of Amalek.” Agag approached him in chains, thinking, “Surely bitter death has turned back.” 33 Then Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so will your mother be childless among women.” Then Samuel cut Agag into pieces before Adonai in Gilgal.

34 Samuel then went to Ramah, while Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel never did see Saul again until the day of his death. Yet Samuel mourned over Saul, while Adonai regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.