Old Testament

Historical Books

What did Ehud do?

The Bible points out that Ehud, a Benjaminite, was left-handed. This proved to be important. The Israelites had to pay tribute to King Eglon of Moab. Ehud went to deliver it. After he delivered the tribute, Ehud said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” The king sent his attendants away so he could hear Ehud’s message. With the element of surprise on his side, Ehud pulled his sword from its scabbard using his left hand. Most soldiers were righthanded. Presumably, the king was not alarmed when he saw Ehud reach into his cloak with his left hand. In a scene of graphic detail, Ehud killed the king of Moab: “Ehud took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into Eglon’s belly; the hilt also went in after the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the dirt came out. Then Ehud went out into the vestibule, and closed the doors of the roof chamber on him, and locked them.” (NRSV, Judges 3:21–23) When the king’s servants saw that the doors were locked, they assumed the king was using the bathroom, so they waited. And they waited. They waited until they were embarrassed. They unlocked the doors, and there was the king, dead on the floor. Because the servants hemmed and hawed, Ehud was able to escape. After that, the Moabites were not a threat to the Israelites.


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