The Book of Judges tells of the men and women who led the Children of Israel from the time of the conquest of the land of Israel by Joshua until the selection of the first king, Saul. These judges provided political acumen, guidance on Jewish law, and, often, military leadership. One tale of intrigue and adventure is that of Ehud the son of Gera.
Ehud, who was from the tribe of Benjamin, led the Children of Israel while they lived under the dominion of Eglon, the king of Moab (a neighboring nation). While not much is known about Eglon’s reign, whether he was a kind or cruel, the fact that the children of Israel send Ehud to assassinate him leads one to believe that his rule was not benevolent.
The first, and surprisingly, perhaps the most important, description of Ehud is that he was left-handed (Judges 3:15). Ehud went to the Moabite court of King Eglon under the pretense of bringing the king a gift. Ehud strapped his double-edged dagger to his right thigh. As left handed warriors were rare, none of the guards checked Ehud’s right side and he was not only granted an audience, but allowed to present his gift in private.
Once alone with King Eglon, Ehud stated that he had a message for him from God. Ehud approached the king and stabbed Eglon in his belly. Eglon, however, was a man of great girth, and was stabbed so hard that he was unable to remove the blade.
Ehud made his escape, locking the doors behind him. Eglon’s servants saw that the parlour doors were locked, and assumed that the King was relieving himself. They waited and waited, until they grew embarrassed that the doors had been locked for so long. Finally they opened the door to discover that their king was dead.
Ehud returned home, rallied the army of Israel and overthrew the Moabites.