Ehud, the left-handed man - 4 August 2021
By Xanthe Hancox
- Judges 3:12-15
The people of Israel sinned against the LORD again. Because of this the LORD made King Eglon of Moab stronger than Israel. Eglon joined the Ammonites and the Amalekites; they defeated Israel and captured Jericho, the city of palm trees. The Israelites were subject to Eglon for eighteen years. Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he sent a man to free them. This was Ehud, a left-handed man, who was the son of Gera, from the tribe of Benjamin. The people of Israel sent Ehud to King Eglon of Moab with gifts for him.
I drive my husband nuts when we watch movies because I cannot help but notice the left-handed characters and chant “One of us! One of us!” If you’re left-handed, like me, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
The story of Ehud comes right out of Judges 3 but would fit in nicely to the plot of any action movie, and the hero is a southpaw to boot.
In today’s passage we read that Israel was under the oppressive rule of Eglon the king of Moab and cried out to the Lord for deliverance. The Moabites were idol worshipers who did evil in the sight of the Lord. God sent Ehud and his cubit-long (about a foot and a half) sword to assassinate the king and liberate God’s people from his rule.
It mattered that Ehud was left-handed because he could conceal his sword on his right thigh, where it was not expected. Left handedness is also significant because the left side of the body is often associated with deception or darkness, it is a tactical advantage in war against the majority who are often right-handed, and is symbolic for being outside of the culturally accepted social norm of leadership in ancient Israel.
Ehud must have been a smooth talker too because when he told the servants of the king that he had a “secret message” for him (Judges 3:19), they left Ehud all alone with the king. Ehud’s “secret message” was the sword that he brought — and the “special delivery” was a stab to the belly of the grossly-overweight king which killed him (there’s a particularly graphic description in verses 20-23).
Then Ehud quietly locked the doors to the roof to keep the guards out and made a quick getaway. When Ehud returned to the people of Israel, he led Israel in conquering their enemies the Moabites.
Delivering the Israelites from their oppressors was set in motion by a left-handed man doing God’s will.
Prayer: God, we have been made in your image and we are left-handed, right-handed and ambidextrous. You can use us, one and all. Help us to seek your will and help us to be your faithful and obedient servants. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen