Summary: This is a combination of sermon #2 and #6 taken from Judges chapters 3 and 12 and concerning 5 obscure judges including: Ehud, Shamgar, Ibzan, Elon, and Abidon.
Unlikely Heros –
Ehud, Shamgar, Ibzan, Elon, Abidon
November 8, 2009
After 5 weeks of looking at some obscure names in our sermon series in Judges, we need to have a little "phun" with the Judges. - We’re "phinally almost phinished" with this series.
Today we will take a brief look at 5 of the more obscure Judges found in the book of Judges. They include Ehud, Shamgar, Ibzan, Elon, and Abidon. You know these judges are obscure because no one ever made up a Sunday School song about them, Looking in our Sunday School archives, I can’t find any flannel board figures to put up on my flannel board, no film strips for the film strip projector, no one parodied them on Youtube, and even my 12 volume commentary has almost nothing to say about them. Now that’s obscure! But will I let that stop me? No way!
At least Ehud has an invigorating story to tell, one that any middle school boy would find exciting. This account has a genuine villain in it, and this one was really really fat, or should I say phat? Eglan, the bad guy, was very very phat. In fact, Eglan may have been the inspiration for a Star War’s character, known as Jabba the Hut. (show photo of Jabba the Hut from Star Wars episode 5)
1. Lack of Physical Strength - Ehud
Ehud, the hero, was a lefty from the tribe of Benjamin (son of my right hand) Ironically the tribe of Benjamin was known for it’s “lefties.”
Literally the description of Ehud says “Ehud was a man restricted in his right hand.” So It’s possible that the had a withered or injured right hand. In any case, left-handedness in ancient times was considered strange and unnatural. Even a couple of generations back, teachers in school tried to teach left-handed children to write with their right hands. Naturally, I’ve always known that lefty’s tend to be smart, and talented, not to mention, “right brained” which means they are in their right mind.
But I found out, when visiting India, that being a lefty was a disadvantage because the left hand was defiled, therefore, I had to eat with my right hand in-spite of how unnatural that was for me, and to reach for things with my right hand, and touch people with only my right hand. This was a definite disadvantage for me.
The brief story of Ehud follows the recounting of Israel’s next sin cycle. And because of that Israel was oppressed for 18 years by king Eglon of the Moabites, who had crossed over the Jordan river and had re-inhabited the ruins of Jericho (city of Palms). From this place, Eglon could torment the Benjamites and Ephriamites, having already subdued the Giliadites and Reubenites on the east side of the Jordan. This evil king set up shop in the heart of Israeli territory where he could inflict the most harm, and he brought thousands of his crack troops with him.
Ehud was sent to Jericho, to the king’s summer palace with that year’s tribute from his tribe (Benjamin), tribute amounted to a portion of what his people produced which was likely either food or wool. He brought several others with him to carry the produce, and after leaving the king’s presence, he sent the others in his group on their way, and went back to the presence of King Eglon with a secret message for the king. The king was intrigued and sent everyone out of the room. When the two of them were alone, Ehud told the king, “I have a message from God for you.” The king stood thinking he was about to receive an oracle from a prophet. Ehud pulled out a short double edged sword from a hidden scabbard with his left hand, and thrust it into the king’s belly. The blade came out of the king’s back, and the belly fat closed over the handle covering it up. Leaving the blade in the king, Ehud left the room locking the doors leading in from the porch and made his get-away. The servants returned finding the doors locked, and assumed their leader was taking care of personal business, so they left him alone for a while. Finally they recovered a key and opened the doors to find their leader had been assassinated.
Meanwhile, Ehud got out a trumpet and called out to his kinsmen in Ephriam to follow him to the fords of the Jordan river leading to Moab where they managed to kill 10,000 soldiers of Moab and subdued the Moabites. This ushered in 80 years of peace which was the longest period of peace enjoyed by the Israelites during the time of the Judges.
Eglan shows the excess of sin --- unchecked it grows to an obsessive state. Note that we live in peaceful times, so this story may seem too graphic to us. It’s not the stuff of normal Sunday school classes, though any middle school boy would love to hear such a story in class and would gleefully retell it among his peers. Those days were full of violence. When you read about Eglan, you have to picture the most violent and cruel of today’s dictators. If we ever had to live under the regime of men like Cezar Chavez or Achmidinijad, or Kim Jung Il, and … --- if we’d had our houses and businesses confiscated or our children arrested and killed --- then we’d understand the need for tough, unflinching warriors.