Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Judges 3:12–30

Judges 3:12–30: Ehud

Synopsis

In this passage we read about Ehud. His isn’t a name that you come across often—not like Samson or Gideon—but his story is quite interesting, compared to some of the other judges.

Once again, the Israelites do evil in the eyes of the LORD, so He hands them over to Eglon, king of Moab. Eglon—along with the Ammonites and Amalekites—attacks Israel, and captures the “City of Palms” (Jericho) (verse 13), and subjugates the people of Israel for eighteen years.

So again, the pattern is followed: The Israelites cry out to the LORD, and He sends Ehud, as their judge. (Ehud is specifically mentioned as being a left-handed man, so I’m betting that left-handed people mention him quite a bit…) And here’s how Ehud delivers Israel:

The Israelites send him to Ehud, with their tribute, but before he goes, he makes a double-edge sword, about a foot and a half long, and straps it to his thigh, under his clothes. When he presents his tribute, he actually brings it to King Eglon himself—who, it turns out, is a very fat man. Ehud sends away his fellow Israelites, who had carried it, and is about to leave himself, when he turns around, and tells King Eglon that he has a “secret message” for him (verse 19). So the king sends out all of his attendants, which leaves the king and Ehud alone together. Which means that it’s Ehud’s time to strike:

Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them. (verses 20–23)

Ehud then leaves, and the king’s servants come back, but find the doors locked. They assume that the king is relieving himself, so they decide to wait outside, but they wait a long time—“to the point of embarrassment,” according to verse 25. They finally decide that they can’t wait any longer, so they get a key and open the door, only to find the king dead. Of course, while they spent all that time waiting, Ehud had made his escape.

And Ehud wastes no time: As soon as he gets back to his fellow Israelites, he blows a trumpet, to summon them to battle. He tells them that the LORD has given Moab into their hands, so the Israelites do battle with the Moabites, and strike down about ten thousand of them. In fact, they turn the tides completely: Israel, which had been subject to Moab, now subjugates the Moabites, and the land has peace for another eighty years.

Thoughts

The Israelites were subject to the Moabites for eighteen years, before the LORD sent Ehud to save them. But I wonder: Were they crying out to the LORD for that whole eighteen years, or only at the end? In other words, did He send a deliverer as soon as they asked for one, or did He make them wait, first? The passage doesn’t say, although, the way that it’s worded, it sort of sounds like they asked near the end of the eighteen years.
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