Is Amalek a well-known name?

I’m considering a story with a character named Amalek, and after reading Rabbi Telushkin’s excellent Biblical Literacy book, I’m convinced that this fellow was a very bad man, which is what I want. My question is, will it be well known enough that at least some people will see it as a “real” bad guy and not a name I created myself? It’s not critical, but it would be fun.

Oh, and the Straight Dope is a lot of fun. I’m happy to be back, even though likely no one noticed I had left. :smiley: :wally

I’d say yes, at least in the US. Anybody who’s read the Old Testament or is a regular church-goer is probably going to have at least heard of the name.

I think it would work. Alan Moore used the name “Moloch” for a villain in Watchmen. That appears in the Bible about equally with Amalek, maybe a bit less. So Amalek should be recognizable enough.

I’m curious as to why the Bible says that the name of Amalek shall be wiped out. Obviously the name is mentioned in what is now one of the most widely circulated and translated books in the world.

[burn’s voice]Exxxxcellent[/burn’s voice/]

If you’re Jewish, yes. If you’re Orthodox Jewish, hell yeah.

I’d amplify that a little. Chasidic Jews have a tendency to use Amalek in much the same way fundy Christians use The Beast.

It would probably be noticable.

Sometimes, authors do this anyway. I remember reading Imzadi, by Peter David. I was doing fine until I came across the alien terrorists:


(Those are all items on the seder plate at Passover). I also noticed that Harry Turtledove used obscure Biblical names for the Ice People in his Darkness series.

Zev Steinhardt

And Weis and Hickman used Hebrew names for some of their gods in the Dragonlance series…Habbakuk, Zeboim, Hiddekel, Chislev, Chemosh, Shinare, etc.

Perhaps I’m being too PC wary, but using that name wouldn’t offend anyone, would it?

I’d have trouble wrapping my head around a heroic character named Amalek, but I don’t think I’d be offended per se. (I don’t speak for all Orthodox Jews, of course ;j )
On the other hand, if you made him into a complete scumbag, like you’re planning, I might think the name was cheesy and overdoing it, like naming him Evel McNasty. But I think it’s even less likely that anybody would be offended than if it were a positive character.

Moved to CS.

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Yeah, but isn’t a moloch a type of lizard, too?

I figured/hoped people would know the name enough to say “Ooo, bad guy!” without him being named Evil McNasty. Kind of a subtle name, not least because he does sound kinda evil and mythical (no offense, it just sounds like a long-ago name is what I mean.)

Evil McNasty is Ronald’s Mirror World twin.

I do not recognize the name. I am not a biblical scholar, but in my early years read the bible fairly regularly.

The author actually named two of his villains “Egg” and “Horseradish”? Wow.

I’m not near my references, but the Amalekites are mentioned in the Book of Exodus as having attacked the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt, and before they reached Mount Sinai (IIRC.) They are therefore viewed by the rabbis as a symbol of evil because they attacked a group of (seemingly) defenseless refugees.

Whew, I saw on the board that you’d stopped in, Dexter, and for a second I was a leetle paranoid. But that’s only because they’re out to get me. Am I posting in my own thread too much?

Wow. I’ve read my Bible, and I attend church regularly, and I’ve never heard the name before, or at least not so it stuck. So now instead of my planned afternoon reading of “The Sound and The Fury” I guess I’ll be dragging out the old Bible and checking out Exodus again.

When I saw the thread title, I thought “Oh god, I hope no one is planning on naming their kid Amalek!”

Amalek is the generic enemy of the Jews. I’ve seen the Nazis referred to as Amalek, for example.