On Wednesday, 34-year-old Meir Ephraim Goldstein was arrested in the northern city of Tiberias, along the Sea of Galilee. Witnesses claimed they saw a bloodsoaked man wandering the streets, a human head under his arm.
"At first I thought he was walking around with a doll's head, I didn't realize what it was. He was standing next to the dumpster and was trying to burn it," witness Wissam Darawshe told Ynet.
"He had her head under his arm the whole time. It was wrapped in a towel, he was holding it like a helmet, and I did not realize what it was at first."
Goldstein was charged with murder as well as attempting to set the apartment of his ex-wife, 33-year-old Adele Goldstein, on fire. Goldstein admitted to having killed Adele. He also told the police that he has become the Messiah.
"God called to me and said to me, "This is the seed of Amalek and the Prophet Hezekiah did not cut off Amalek's head and therefore did not earn the right to be the king Messiah. Because I have chopped off the head of the seed of Amalek, I am acknowledged as the king messiah," he said.
Goldstein's lawyer Ephraim Dimri says that in eight days – "the eight days of Hannukah," according to Goldstein – the accused will explain why he murdered his wife. Dimri also said that Goldstein should undergo further psychiatric evaluation.
Several neighbors said they heard Meir knocking on apartment doors shouting, "I killed Amalek!"
Goldstein emigrated to Israel from Moldova in 1991, and was described as "ultra-Orthodox"; by Maariv. He had claimed to be the messiah in the past, and had previously seen a psychiatrist who concluded that he was not dangerous.
Neighbors said that the Goldsteins had separated two weeks prior, and that Meir was reportedly mentally unstable. One neighbor told Haaretz that, "since the divorce [Goldstein] was like a homeless person and would sleep some of the time in the study hall" of a nearby seminary.
Friends of the victim said that Adele Goldstein claimed to be relieved to be divorced, but feared her ex-husband might try to harm her. The couple had no children.
In an eerily similar incident from late January, 28-year-old Nadav Sela was arrested and charged with stabbing to death his wife Dor Crasanti-Sela, 23; sons Yosef, 20 months; and Binyamin, eight months; as well as neighbor Nahman Atia, 11. He also attacked Nahman's 10-year-old-brother Natan, who survived by pretending to be dead.
The crime took place in the town of Migdal, just outside Tiberias. When the police arrested Sela, they claim that he confessed to his crimes and repeatedly muttered "They're Amalekites, they're Amalekites… I murdered everyone at home because they were Amalekites."
In the Hebrew Bible, the nomadic Amalekites were the embodiment of evil and forever the enemy of the Jewish people. Samuel 15:3 reads: "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."
Hezekiah was a king of Judah in the eighth century BC, and the latest Biblical mentions of the Amalekites is in Chronicles during his reign – where a group of Hebrews exterminated a group of them.