In 2644 AM (on or about 1360 BC), King Eglon of Moab amassed a coalition force of Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites, and conquered Israel. He occupied the "city of palm trees," which some commentators identify as Jericho. For eighteen years he exacted an annual tribute from Israel.
Then in 2662 AM, Ehud was chosen to carry the annual tribute to Eglon's stronghold. Ehud used this assignment as an opportunity to assassinate Eglon. Ehud had an additional advantage over most men: he was left-handed, and so most men would not think to watch his actual weapon hand.
Ehud made for himself a double-edge sword one cubit long, and strapped it to his right thigh. Then, when he came to deliver the tribute, he said to Eglon that he had a private message for him. Eglon suspected nothing, and dismissed everyone else so that he could talk to Ehud alone. When he was alone with the king, Ehud told him, "It is a message from God." Then he reached under his cloak, drew his sword, and drove it into Eglon's abdomen.
Eglon was morbidly obese, and the flesh folded over the hilt of the sword after Ehud had thrust it. The sword made an exit wound in Eglon's back, and from the description given in the Bible of what happened to Eglon, one may infer that the sword opened his large intestine.
Ehud escaped from the palace and was well away before the royal guards discovered the murder. Then he traveled into the hill country in Ephraimite territory and recruited an army. This army marched out of the hills with Ehud in command, and secured the fords of the Jordan River opposite the land of Moab. A Moabite force of ten thousand men tried to dislodge them, and the Israelites killed them all.
Thereafter Ehud administered justice in Israel for sixty-two years, so that the total length of his story is eighty years. (Judges 3:12-30 )
Ehud's story is rich in symbolism. His name, meaning "united," speaks of believers united for a common purpose. Jericho, a city that Israel had gained and then lost, is the result of a retreat from faith. Ehud's assignment represents an opportunity that any Christian might have to preach the Gospel, and his left-handedness, a common ground for discrimination, represents any problem that a Christian might turn to his advantage in advancing the faith. Eglon's excessive flesh represents flesh as a metaphor for sin, and excess as an inherent risk. Ehud's sword is a metaphor for the Word of God, which is often described as sharper than any two-edged sword.
Concerning the sword that Ehud used, at least one commentator familiar with the making and balancing of bladed weapons suggests that Ehud's sword had a ratio of hilt to blade of 1:1.618, i.e. the Golden ratio, and would thus have had an ideal balance for a quick draw and thrust.
- Jones, Floyd M., The Chronology of the Old Testament, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004, p. 278
- Reid, David R., "Ehud and Eglon," Devotions for Growing Christians, n.d. Accessed December 15, 2008
- Konig, George, "Ehud," AboutBibleProphecy.com, n.d. Accessed December 15, 2008.
- Cox, Ken, "The Sword of Ehud," n.d. Accessed December 15, 2008.
- Blank, Wayne, "Ehud," Daily Bible Study, n.d. Accessed December 15, 2008.
- "Ehud." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Accessed 15 December 2008 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/180903/Ehud>.
- Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Ehud". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". <http://www.biblestudytools.net/Dictionaries/EastonBibleDictionary/ebd.cgi?number=T1138>.
- Jastrow M, Mendelsohn CJ, and Barton GA, "Ehud," The Jewish Encyclopedia, n.d. Accessed December 15, 2008.