Who was Agag in the Bible?

Author: BibleAsk Team


Agag is mentioned in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, whose name appears several times in the narrative of Israel’s history. His story is intertwined with the conflicts between the Israelites and the Amalekites, highlighting themes of divine judgment, obedience to God’s commands, and the consequences of disobedience.

Agag is identified as the king of the Amalekites, an ancient nomadic tribe descended from Esau (Genesis 36:12). The name “Agag” likely denotes a title rather than a personal name, similar to “Pharaoh” or “Caesar.” The Amalekites were known adversaries of the Israelites, often engaging in hostile actions against them throughout their history (Exodus 17:8-16; 1 Samuel 15:1-35). Agag’s encounters with the Israelites are recorded in the biblical narrative, primarily in connection with the conflict between the two nations and the divine judgment pronounced upon them.

The Amalekite Threat

The first mention of Agag occurs during the time of King Saul. The Amalekites were among the enemies of Israel whom Saul was commanded by God to utterly destroy (1 Samuel 15:3). Samuel the prophet instructed Saul to wage war against the Amalekites and to “utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them” (1 Samuel 15:3, NKJV).

This command was given as a judgment against the Amalekites for their past atrocities against the Israelites, including their ambush of the Israelites in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 25:17-19). However, Saul failed to fully obey God’s command. While he defeated the Amalekites in battle, he spared Agag, the king, and allowed some of the Amalekite livestock to remain alive (1 Samuel 15:8-9).

Confrontation with the Prophet Samuel

Saul’s disobedience to God’s command regarding Agag and the Amalekites incurred the displeasure of the Lord. When Samuel confronted Saul about his actions, Saul initially claimed to have obeyed God’s command (1 Samuel 15:13-15). However, Samuel quickly exposed Saul’s deception, stating that he could hear the sounds of the sheep and cattle that Saul had spared (1 Samuel 15:14-15).

Saul’s disobedience was a direct violation of God’s explicit command to destroy everything belonging to the Amalekites. The prophet Samuel then delivered a message from the Lord, pronouncing judgment upon Saul and his kingdom for his disobedience. He declared, “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:23, NKJV).

The Execution of Agag

Despite Saul’s disobedience, Samuel took it upon himself to carry out God’s judgment against Agag. Samuel “hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal” (1 Samuel 15:33, NKJV). This act of execution served as a grim reminder of the consequences of disobedience and the severity of God’s judgment upon those who defy his commands. The king of the Amalekites, bore the responsibility for his nation’s hostility toward the Israelites and their defiance of God’s will.

Theological Significance

The story of Agag in the Bible carries theological significance, illustrating the principles of divine judgment, obedience to God’s commands, and the consequences of disobedience. Agag’s fate serves as a sobering reminder of the seriousness of sin and rebellion against God, as well as the importance of wholehearted obedience to his commands (Deuteronomy 28:15; James 2:10). Additionally, his execution highlights the righteousness and justice of God, who holds rulers and nations accountable for their actions and ensures that his purposes are ultimately fulfilled (Psalm 96:13; Romans 14:11).


Agag, as the king of the Amalekites, plays a significant role in the biblical narrative, particularly in the conflict between the Amalekites and the Israelites. His disobedience to God’s commands, along with his nation’s hostility toward the Israelites, incurred divine judgment and led to his execution by the prophet Samuel. His story serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of disobedience and rebellion against God, as well as a testament to God’s righteousness and justice in executing judgment upon the wicked.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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