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Biblical Gore
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The Assassination Of King Eglon

By James Donahue

The books of the Old Testament are filled with descriptive stories of war, sex and murders that appear to have nothing to do with reinforcing the reader's faith in God.

The assassination that ended the 18-year reign of Eglon, King of Moab, who ruled over the Israelites from the City of Palms, is perhaps the goriest story to be found in that so-called "good book."

The second chapter in the Book of Judges explains that God brought this judgment on the Israelites because they "did evil in the eyes of the Lord." Whatever that evil deed was is not explained, which probably is just as well. Consequently, God allowed King Eglon to call upon the Ammonites and Amalekites, two neighboring tribes, to join him in attacking and conquering the people of Israel.

Eglon turned out to be a glutinous character which suggests that his demands, including his tax on the people was cruel during his 18-year-long reign. When Ehud, the left-handed son of Gera the Benjamite was picked to deliver the people from this slovenly king, he entered the court with a special double-edged sword strapped to his right thigh and hidden under his clothes. Ehud also was carrying a gift for the king, described only as "a tribute," which apparently pleased the king.

King Eglon is described in the story as "a very fat man." And when Ehud was granted time alone with the king to tell him what he said was "a secret message," he drew the sword and gutted the king. Eglon was so fat that as the sword was thrust in his huge belly "even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it."

After stabbing the king, Ehud closed the doors of the upper room and locked them, then made his escape. The King’s servants approached the doors, found them locked, and obviously smelled the odor coming from the room and, according to the Bible story, they said " He must be relieving himself" and waited "to the point of embarrassment." Thus they gave Ehud plenty of time to make his escape, and the king to die before anyone entered the room.

Ehud then led the Israelites into successful battle against an army of ten thousand Moabites, leaving them scattered dead over the field of battle. "That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for 80 years."