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. :wally
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.
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.)
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.
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.