Eglon, King of Moav



The Jews began sinning, idol worshipping and doing evil in the eyes of Hashem. Upon seeing this Hashem made Eglon, king of Moav harsher toward the Jews. Eglon teamed up with the kingdoms of Ammon and Amalek and then came and captured Yericho (referred in the text as the city of palm trees). After 18 long years under Eglon’s tyrannical rule, like in all the other stories of the book of Shoftim, the Jews cried out to Hashem and did Teshuva (repentance). Ehud, son of Geira from the shevet (tribe) of Binyomin was sent to their aid.  Ehud went to the palace and requested an audience with the king with the pretext of bringing the Jews annual tribute to the king.

Although there were guards at the gate checking for weapons, they didn’t know Ehud had a double edged sword on him. Why was there such an oversight? In those times, men would have their sheath for their sword on their left thigh and use their right hand side to draw their sword, (as a vast majority of the world’s population are right handed, with about 10% being left handed). Therefore, the guards only looked for a sheath on their visitor’s left hand side. Yet Ehud was different as he had a limp right hand, and therefore he had to use his left hand to draw his sword, requiring his sheath to be on his right hand side. So when the guards looked they saw nothing (this took place in approximately the year 1186 BC, way before the complicated machinery, x-ray machines and sensors that they use today, and anyway the sheath was well hidden).

Upon being granted audience with the king, Ehud told the king that he had a secret matter to discuss with him, thereby Eglon sent all his guards and servants from his presence.

Once the two were alone Ehud began with a proclamation saying “A message from Hashem I  have for you”. Upon hearing the name of Hashem, Eglon stood up to give Hashem honour. It may seem something not noteworthy for you, yet Eglon was a morbidly obese man and this required a great effort on his part.

Swiftly Ehud drew his sword from his sheath and plunged it into Eglon’s abdomen. (In fact Eglon was so fat that Ehud couldn’t get his sword out afterwards, as the hilt went in after the blade and the fat closed around it,  thus the sword was hidden by the fat in the wound). Thus, the life of this evil tyrant ended.

Ehud escaped, locking the doors of the king’s chambers behind him. He ran to Seraiah in Ephraim, where he blew a Shofar to round up the troops of Bnei Yisrael.

Meanwhile, back at the palace, the king’s servants became suspicious that a ‘secret discussion’ with the king could last for so longs, and further intrigued by the odour emanating from the kings chamber, they forced themselves in. There lay the king on his couch; his last breath long since expired.

Before the kingdom could reorganize themselves and crown a new king, the Jewish soldiers whom Eglon had gathered had arrived. Caught unawares 10 000 Moabite soldiers were killed and Moav itself was conquered.

Although Eglon was an evil despot, that final deed of giving honour to Hashem’s name reaped its rewards. From this, Eglon merited to have a descendent Rus (Ruth), who was the epitome of modesty. From her came her great-grandchild, Dovid HaMelach the great psalmist and ruler, and his son Shlomo, the wisest man of all time. Soon we will see IYH another one of his decedents – Moshiach!

Next weeks question:

What was Dovid’s mother’s name?