“The Left-Handed Assassin” (Judges 3:12-31)

“The Left-Handed Assassin” (Judges 3:12-31)


If you’re new here, you should be aware that we have no shortage of boys running around with various toy weapons after every service. We try to contain them somewhat, but we also want them to know they can remain boys at Church.

Boys, if you aren’t running around with daggers strapped to your right thigh or held in your left hand, calling yourselves Ehud this morning – I will have failed.

This is an exciting account. It certainly has a deeper purpose than giving boys something to reenact, but our explanation shouldn’t “clean up” the text so much that we sissify Ehud.

The cycle of Israel’s rebellion was on repeat. They were hopeless. Apart from the Lord’s intervention, they couldn’t “turn back” to Him. Ehud’s sense of divine mission is evident throughout this section.

Our faithful God goes to great lengths in order to preserve his faithless people.

Read Judges 3:12-31

Ehud’s Training (12-18)

The downward spiral continues: The Lord raised up Ehud as Israel’s deliverer after their idolatry led them into 18 years of slavery in Moab.

Israel’s fidelity was dependent upon outside pressure rather than an inward reality. Nevertheless, the Lord heard their cry. After handing them over to powerful King Eglon, the Lord raised up a skilled warrior to assassinate him.

“Left handed” lit. “bound in the right hand” (cf. 20:15-16; 1 Chr. 12:2; LXX = “ambidextrous”). Ehud was part of an elite squadron of soldiers trained for particularly difficult military challenges.

Ehud’s “double-mouthed” sword (without cross piece) would’ve been rare for the time. It is emphasized much like the epics of Homer.

One of the means by which the Lord preserves his people is through the efforts of elite military forces. We should be grateful that we have such men in our nation who have served to defend our freedom.

Extreme Ownership and The Way of the Warrior Kid by Jocko Willink

How to train physically and mentally for life. Marc learns to overcome his lethargy and several bullies who mock and fight him by training his body and his mind. Training to eliminate evil begins in childhood and involves great sacrifice. Elite soldiers endure in their training because they are disciplined individuals.

Ehud’s training gave him the skill to plan…

Ehud’s Secret (19-23)

Ehud’s sword (16) is the “secret thing” he had for Eglon. He easily secured a private meeting with the king, then acknowledged his mission was “from God” (20).

Ehud assassinated Eglon (“fattened calf”, synonym in v.29 “able-bodied” + “strong”; cf. Dan. 1:15 well nourished, healthy). The “fat” which covered his entrails enclosed Ehud’s sword (v.22; 2 Sam. 1:22). Ehud thrusts so forcefully that Eglon experiences a discharge from his bowels.

23 And, Ehud went out of the crawl space, having shut the doors of the throne room upon himself and locked them.

The portrayal is consistent with the Bit Hilani floor plan (used for palaces and buildings like Solomon’s temple).

Dale Ralph Davis learning to ride a bike. He couldn’t get himself to turn. His father taught him everything he needed to know, but he still couldn’t do it.

God sent someone who could “turn back” on behalf of the Israelites!

Notice the lack of a role the Israelites played in this section. Ehud separated himself from the convoy and “turned back” in order to carry out the assassination. They could not help him. In fact, had they tried to follow him, they would’ve compromised the mission. Ehud had to defeat Eglon (bondage to idolatry) on his own.

Ehud’s assassination of Eglon was just the beginning of his mission…

Ehud’s Escape (24-30)

Imagine the discussion of these guards outside the cool roof chamber.

Ehud is already outside the palace amassing an army to fight Moab (28). Again, he knew the Lord had raised him up not only to take out King Eglon, but in order to lead Israel’s defeat of the Moabites.

And now, for the first time, the strength of Israel is revived. They recognized Ehud as “their leader”. They believed in the Lord’s promise that he brought. And they defeated 10,000 elite Moabite troops.

Ehud’s leadership and his delivery of the Lord’s promise of victory, inspired a lethargic people to fight against Moab.

After Ehud, Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with an unlikely weapon (oxgoad), “and he also saved Israel” (cf. 5:6).

But, Ehud and Shamgar were ultimately inadequate: They did not conquer death, nor could they bring lasting change to the hearts of God’s people (4:1).

Has your faith wavered? Have you been lethargic to participate in the mission of God? Let this be the reminder of God’s promise to you! You are never beyond his reach.

In every generation God has raised up leadership to inspire and provoke his people to turn away from their idols, to be equippedto defeat the evils of their age, and to enjoy the victory that Jesus Christ secured for them!

Will you join him on his mission?


Our faithful God goes to great lengths in order to preserve his faithless people.

  1. Ehud’s Training (12-18) reminds us to thank God for his faithful preservation through elite forces.
  2. Ehud’s Secret (19-23) sword, like the cross of Jesus, was used in an unexpected way to eliminate evil.
  3. Ehud’s Escape (24-30) points to the resurrection of our Lord who conquered death once and for all time.

Everyone here, from all ages, has something to learn and apply from this text. Ehud was a great deliverer, but his primary role is to point us to the Ultimate Deliverer, Jesus Christ.