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Sinister Sword

by Tim O'Hearn

Call me Ehud. I didnít ask to be famous, but here I am. I was just a humble Benjaminite, suffering along with everyone else under the foot of Eglon of Moab. I donít know why I was selected to deliver a gift to the king. I just took it as an opportunity to do something for my people.

I guess I ought to tell you a little background. Eglon was the king of Moab. He was king of one of the most fertile areas outside of Egypt. His territory was in the high country east of the Salt Sea. It was the bread basket of the Jordan valley. And yet he looked westward to the mountains. Maybe he thought there were valuable minerals there. Or forests. Or maybe he just thought that this land was occupied by a bunch of interlopers who had recently, but not too recently, conquered the land, and they might just make easy pickings. Whatever his reasoning was, he came, and saw, and conquered. And we suffered.

There were a few of us who knew the real reason he came, or thought we did. Our poor people had seen the wonders of God. Our parents and grandparents had crossed the Jordan on dry land. Against all odds, they had conquered the land because they had Godís help. But now they hardly acknowledged God. Not a few of us thought that was the reason we had been conquered, and so we called to God for salvation.

For some reason, probably because of Godís intervention, I was selected to accompany the regular tribute to King Eglon. So I began to prepare. We werenít allowed weapons, but I managed to fashion a short sword. It was only about as long as my forearm, and didnít look like much. But I made it sharp, and I made it easy to hide.

Oh, I forgot to tell you one thing about me. Like many from the tribe of Benjamin, I am left-handed. Most Israelites knew that Benjaminites tended toward the sinister hand, but most foreigners would not have known this. I planned to use that to my advantage.

Back to my dagger. As I said, it was only a short dagger. I was able to fasten it to the inside of my right leg without hampering my ability to walk normally. For a dexterous person, that would be the most inconvenient place to hide a weapon, but for me it was ideal.

I traveled to Moab with the gift, and came into the presence of King Eglon. And what a presence. This was the largest man I had ever seen. Not tall, mind you. To put it bluntly, he was fat. Extremely fat. He obviously did not lead his army himself.

We delivered the present and I sent the bearers away. Then I told the king that I was also the bearer of a secret message. I donít know why he trusted me, but he sent everyone out of his presence.

We were in his summer palace, in a room on the roof. These rooms were quite common. The floor of the room was raised above the roof so air could flow underneath. This helped cool the room, and so it was a popular place to spend a hot summer afternoon. The room was fully enclosed, for privacy.

I repeated that I had a message for the king. He started to stand up, which was a prodigious feat without his servants. As he did so, I reached for the dagger I had made and thrust it into his belly. And kept thrusting. The blade went so far in that I feared I could not get my hand back out; it was being sucked in by the fat. Once I did get my arm out, I locked the doors and left. I hoped (and apparently it so happened) that the servants would delay disturbing the king and I would have time to escape.

As soon as I announced to the Israelites that King Eglon was dead, we were able to amass an army to defeat the discouraged Moabite army.

I donít know why God picked me to do this job. It certainly was one of the dirtiest jobs I ever did. But when God calls, you just gotta listen.

(From Judges 3:12-30)