Ehud the Assassin

By Don

June 7, 2024


Reading Time: 2 minutes

Stories of heroes, battles, and risk-takers inspire us.

This is one of the reasons in my weekly newsletter I share a story of strength every week… hearing a story of someone’s feat of strength and courage helps us get off the couch and get into action.

And God is a great story-teller. Here’s one from Judges chapter 3, featuring Ehud.

This story has elements of courage in taking action despite the risk of failure, as well as some entertaining elements through amazing story-telling.

Here’s the story of Ehud.

As a result of their sin, the people of Israel were conquered by Eglon, the king of Moab. For 18 years this king ruled over Israel, exacting a regular tribute they had to pay to him.

This means almost a full generation of people grew up under the subservience to a foreign king. The safe play was to just pay the king what he wanted and hope that he would just leave the people of Israel alone.

But God raised up a man named Ehud to deliver the people of Israel from their oppressors.

Ehud was chosen to deliver the regular tribute to Eglon, but in preparation for this delivery, he made himself a sword and strapped it to his right thigh, which would have avoided detection (we’ll get to that in a minute).

Ehud’s assassination mission took him directly into the enemy palace. From what we can tell, it’s likely he went all by himself. A solo mission. It was incredible risky; any slight failure, slip-up, or mistake, and he would have been captured, tortured, or killed. Ehud’s trip to the palace could have been a one-way ticket to his death.

The king received Ehud’s tribute… and then the story pauses to point out that Eglon is a fat man (we’ll get to that in a minute too). Ehud asked the king for a private audience to deliver a message just for him. Eglon dismissed his servants, ready to receive the message (we’ll get to that in a minute as well).

That’s when Ehud took his chance. He thrust his sword into Eglon’s belly, it gets stuck there, and then his dung falls out. Ehud then stealthily exited the palace before someone realized what happened. Eglon’s servants wait around the chamber doors, thinking he is taking his time relieving himself (Judges 3:24). But they were too late. 

And here’s the amazing story-telling.

The word-play is all over this story… here’s just a few.

Ehud the Lefty

Ehud is introduced as “… the Benjaminite, a left-handed man”. In Hebrew, Benjamin is “son of my right hand”… so Ehud is literally introduced as “son of my right hand, a left-handed man”. This ironic introduction emphasizes the use of Ehud’s left hand, and is why Ehud would have drawn his sword from his right thigh.

Eglon the Large

The name Eglon is related to the Hebrew word for “bull”… and the word used to describe him as “fat” is the word that’s used to describe a fat cow… the picture painted is one of a plump bull about to be slaughtered.

The Message Delivery

And as Matthew Henry points out, Ehud sure has a message for Eglon, but “the message was delivered, not to his ear, but immediately, and literally, to his heart, into which the fatal knife was thrust and left there” (quote link)

Ehud then musters an army, overthrows the Moabites, and with the Lord delivers His people from their enemies.

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