a nomadic tribe of uncertain origin, which occupied the peninsula of Sinai and the wilderness intervening between the southern hill-ranges of Palestine and the border of Egypt (Numbers 13:29; 1 Samuel 15:7; 27:8). Their wealth consisted in flocks and herds. Mention is made of a “town” (1 Samuel 15:5), but their towns could have been little more than stations or nomadic enclosures. The Amalekites first came in contact with the Israelites at Rephidim, but were signally defeated (Exodus 17:8-16). In union with the Canaanites, they again attacked the Israelites on the borders of Palestine and defeated them near Hormah (Numbers 14:45). Saul undertook an expedition against them (1 Samuel 14:48). Their power was thenceforth broken, and they degenerated into a horde of banditti. Their destruction was completed by David (1 Samuel 30:1-17).
Smith's Bible Names Dictionary (1866).