Ein Habesor, meaning ‘the Brook of Besor,’ is a community in southern Israel that demonstrated remarkable bravery and heroism on October 7. Facing a dire situation, the men of this community valiantly defended their town from destruction, saving their families from the clutches of infiltrating Hamas terrorists. Unfortunately, many of their neighboring communities were not as fortunate and suffered a different fate.
The events of October 7 strikingly mirror a biblical story that unfolded around Wadi Besor, a river in southern Israel that flows into the Gaza Strip. Found in I Samuel 30, this narrative recounts a battle between David and the Amalekites. Both the ancient tale and the modern conflict converge at this geographical landmark, offering a beacon of hope in the contemporary conflict between Israel and Hamas.
In the biblical story, David and his men, returning from battle, discover their camp in Ziklag in ruins. The Amalekites had burned the town and taken their wives and children captive. The anguish of this discovery is palpable, as David and his men weep in despair. This scene eerily echoes the havoc caused by Hamas on October 7, where communities were destroyed, houses burned, and many, including women and children, were taken hostage. Yet the cruelty of Hamas, involving rape, torture, and murder, surpasses the already brutal actions of the Amalekites, who, according to I Samuel 30:2, “did not kill” anyone.
In his despair, David turns to God for guidance, asking whether to pursue the Amalekites or not. The affirmative response he receives reignites his determination to seek justice and recover what was lost.
A pivotal moment in David’s journey occurs at Wadi Besor. Here, David leaves behind 200 exhausted men, demonstrating his understanding of human limitations and the importance of compassion even in crisis. After crossing the river, David’s encounter with an abandoned Egyptian servant further highlights his compassion. Unlike the Amalekites who left the servant to die because he had fallen ill, David and his men provide care, an act that leads them to the Amalekite camp and ultimately to victory. This victory is not only a military triumph but also a moral one.
The return to Wadi Besor brings another moral challenge. The 400 men who fought with David initially refused to share the spoils of war with the 200 who had stayed behind. David, however, insists on equal distribution, establishing a rule in Israel that spoils should be shared equally among all, including those who “remain with the baggage” (I Samuel 30:24). This decision not only contrasts David’s character with that of the Amalekites but also reinforces themes of fairness and unity.
In the Bible, the Amalekites are portrayed as the embodiment of unprovoked evil, attacking the defenseless and innocent. In Deuteronomy, the Bible tells us that they “cut down all the stragglers in your rear” (Deuteronomy 25:18). And in I Samuel 30 they attacked the women and children when they knew the men were away at war. In contemporary times, Hamas is their ideological heir, attacking unprovoked and brutally murdering innocent men, women and children. Just as Amalek took women and children captive, Hamas has taken women, children and elderly hostages. In contrast, David’s actions towards the Egyptian and his own men highlight a moral and ethical approach to leadership and conflict.
The parallels between the biblical account and the events of October 7 are striking. Both scenarios involve devastating attacks that lead to hostages being taken and communities in despair. And the response of the IDF to the current situation—pursuit and the hope for recovery—mirrors David’s actions. Just as David was victorious over the Amalekites through divine assistance, we know that Israel will emerge victorious in this battle since the IDF is fighting with God on its side. And just as David “recovered everything” (verse 19) with the help of God, we hope that the current conflict will be resolved with the safe return of all hostages, the restoration of peace and the defeat of evil.