Ehud Rescues Israel

Judges 3:12-30

The story of Ehud is set in the time of the Judges, and it follows the familiar pattern of Israel falling into sin, suffering foreign domination, and experiencing deliverance by a deliverer, or judge, whom the Lord raises up to rescue them. On this occasion a coalition of Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites, led by Eglon king of Moab, attacked Israel and took control of the “City of Palms,” which was almost certainly Jericho (see Deuteronomy 34:3; 2 Chronicles 28:15), and the Israelites remained subject to him for eighteen years. Then the Lord raised up a left-handed Benjaminite named Ehud (also see article here), and he became the leader of the entourage of Israelites who traveled to Eglon’s headquarters in Jericho to present him with tribute. After delivering the tribute, the entourage set out to return, presumably to the hill country. Given the flow of events and the mention of the stone images near a place called Gilgal (meaning “circle of stones”) on their return journey, it seems most likely that they were following the Ascent of Adummim, and the Gilgal in this story is the same one mentioned in Joshua 15:6-7 and 18:17 (where it is called Geliloth, “circles”), rather than the Gilgal located immediately northeast of Jericho. So Ehud turned back when they reached Gilgal and (perhaps the next day), headed back down to Jericho, and assassinated Eglon in his palace. The story then indicates that Ehud fled along the same route to Seirah (likely referring to the wooded hill country), for it notes that he passed the stone images once again (v. 26). There in the hill country Ehud rallied the other Israelites, who then went down and captured the fords of the Jordan River and killed 10,000 Moabites that tried to cross back into Moabite territory. As a result of the Israelite victory, the Moabites became subject to Israel that day.

download hi-res file