A Fat King and a Southpaw: Humor in Judges 3?
- Thursday, September 09, 2010
Moreover, because he was left-handed, Ehud strapped his sword to his right thigh. A minor detail, we might think. However, we can easily imagine that the Moabite king's bodyguards, who would certainly have checked-out anyone seeking admittance to their monarch, performed only a perfunctory check on Ehud, never thinking that the weapon would be on his right, rather than the expected left, thigh. Alas, the need for security—and the means to outwit it—is nothing new.
The name of the Moabite king would have immediately attracted the attention of an ancient reader. Eglon comes from the same Hebrew root as the word for a fattened calf, often one prepared for sacrifice. And, of course, sacrifice is exactly what Eglon becomes at the hand of Ehud. The extended, rather gruesome description of Ehud plunging his sword through layers of Eglon's fat could not have failed to make the comparison clear: Indeed, Ehud did have a "secret message" for the king, but not the one the Moabite ruler expected! Making the king a "sacrifice" weakened the resolve of the Moabite army; allowing for Israel to destroy them and subsequently enjoy a period of peace and prosperity.
Our analysis invites us to appreciate, as an ancient Israelite would, the re-telling (initially in oral form) of an incident that united a people in a shared memory and a good story.
Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Logos Bible Software. Each issue of Bible Study Magazine provides tools and methods for Bible study as well as insights from people like John Piper, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Kay Arthur, Randy Alcorn, John MacArthur, Barry Black, and more. More information is available at http://www.biblestudymagazine.com. Originally published in print: Copyright Bible Study Magazine (Jan-Feb 2009): pg. 39.
Publication date: September 9, 2010
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