Judges 3:15 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 3:15, NIV: Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer--Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab.

Judges 3:15, ESV: Then the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, and the LORD raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The people of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab.

Judges 3:15, KJV: But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.

Judges 3:15, NASB: But when the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab.

Judges 3:15, NLT: But when the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD again raised up a rescuer to save them. His name was Ehud son of Gera, a left-handed man of the tribe of Benjamin. The Israelites sent Ehud to deliver their tribute money to King Eglon of Moab.

Judges 3:15, CSB: Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he raised up Ehud son of Gera, a left-handed Benjaminite, as a deliverer for them. The Israelites sent him with the tribute for King Eglon of Moab.

What does Judges 3:15 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The people of Israel have served under the oppressive rule of Eglon, king of Moab, for eighteen years. They were defeated by the combined armies of Moab, Ammon, and the Amalekites, all empowered by the punishing hand of God (Judges 3:12–14).

At last, their misery reaches the point where the people cry out to God for help. The text does not suggest the Israelites repented of sin, or made promises to God. They simply ask for help, and God helps.

In this case, God raises up a new judge to deliver the people from their captivity to Moab. Ehud, son of Gera, is described vaguely as being of the tribe of Benjamin and left-handed. The writer may be pointing to some irony here. The name Benjamin means "son of the right hand," while Ehud is left-handed. Also noteworthy is that Ehud's infamous act against the Moabite king, described later, parallels Jacob's depiction of the tribe of Benjamin. Jacob referred to Benjamin as a "ravenous wolf" (Genesis 49:27).

In the ancient world, being fully left-handed—dominant with that side, rather than the right hand—was actively discouraged. Some cultures even saw it as a sign of evil: the Latin term sinister means both "unlucky" and "from the left side." For that reason, some scholars believe this reference implies Ehud was actually ambidextrous: able to use both of his hands with equal skill. Later in Judges, 700 men of Benjamin will be similarly described as left-handed, a point tied closely to extreme skill at slinging stones in combat (Judges 20:16). Another group of Benjaminites who served as David's mighty men were bowman described as being able to shoot arrows or sling stones with both hands equally well (1 Chronicles 12:1–2). It's possible that Ehud's "left-handedness" is being extolled as an addition to his "right-handedness."

The Bible does not explicitly indicate the Spirit of the Lord came on Ehud, as it does with other judges (Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29). Instead, he seems to have been a clever man who recognized an opportunity. He maneuvers to gain the advantage over Moab by attacking King Eglon directly. This opportunity came when the Israelites sent Ehud to deliver their required tribute to the king in Jericho (Judges 3:16–21).