Skip to main content

Agag

AGAG

AGAG (Heb. אֲגָג), the name of an *Amalekite king who was captured by *Saul (i Sam. 15). By sparing Agag's life Saul disobeyed*Samuel's order to annihilate the Amalekites. This occasioned the final break between Samuel and Saul. Later Samuel killed Agag at Gilgal "before the Lord" (ibid. 33).

One of Balaam's oracles sets Israel's king "higher than Agag" (Num. 24:7). The Septuagint adds "Agag" as the subject of another short oracle (ibid. 23). The name may have served as a recurrent designation for Amalekite chieftains or a clan.

Agagite (Heb. אֲגָגִי) is the gentilic name of *Haman, in the *Scroll of Esther (3:1; 10:8, 5, etc.). It connects the archenemy of the Jews in Persia with the Amalekites. It has been suggested that designation of Haman as an Agagite sounds legendary. It may represent a nickname, applied to this persecutor of the Jews because the Amalekites are denounced as the archenemy of Israel in the Torah (Deut. 25:17–19). Some scholars prefer the Septuagint's reading: Βουγαιος ("Bugaean" instead of "Agagite"), a Persian gentile name, baga, meaning "God."

[Hanna Weiner]

In the Aggadah

Agag's death came too late. Had he been killed by Saul during the course of the battle, a later generation of Jews would have been spared the troubles caused by Haman. It is taught that in the short span of time between the war and the execution of Agag, he became the ancestor of Haman (ser 20). The delay is attributed to the powers of persuasion of Doeg the Edomite over Saul. He argued that the law prohibits the slaying of an animal and its young on the same day. How much less permissible was it to destroy old and young at one time (Mid. Ps. 52:4).

When Agag was eventually sentenced to death, it was according to heathen, and not Jewish, law. Thus, there were no witnesses to his crime, and he was given no warning of his punishment (pdrk 3:6).

bibliography:

agag: Albright, in: jbl, 63 (1944), 218 ff. agagite: J. Hoschander, The Book of Esther in the Light of History (1923), 21 ff.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Agag." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Agag." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 23, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/agag

"Agag." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved September 23, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/agag

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.