Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ehud and the Last Day

In the book of Judges, After the death of Othniel, Israel fell into sin. Utilizing the pagan nations He had left in the Land to test Israel, God strengthened Eglon (heifer, chariot, round), the king of Moab (the seed of the father). Eglon gathered unto him the children of Ammon (sons of renown, son of my people) and Amalek (dweller in a valley). God did this because Israel had done what was evil in His sight. Nevertheless, this was not for their demise, but for their repentance. When the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, He raised them up a savior, Ehud (union), son of Gera (a grain, pilgrimage, combat; dispute), the Benjamite (son of my right hand).

Now, Israel served Moab eighteen years. In the New Testament we also have reference to “eighteen years.” In Luke 13, we find: “And behold, a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years; and she was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up. And when Jesus saw her, he called her, and said to her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” This was the state of Israel at the time of Ehud.

In Eglon we see the world, its power and influence. In Eglon we also see the influence of Satan. Contrary to Moab and its confederates, Israel is now weak, without strength. In their weakness, they cry out in repentance (the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance). In our weakness, Christ is strong. At the repentance of Israel, God raised up for them a savior, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjamite. “Ehud” means “union.” In Jesus there is “union.” He is united with the Father; He is united with mankind, through His Incarnation. Ehud is the son of Gera, the Benjamite. Recall that “Benjamin” means “son of my right hand,” and that points to Jesus. “Gera” means “a grain, pilgrimage, combat; dispute.” For our passage, “combat” probably fits best. Putting all the words together, we basically have Ehud, united with the power of God.

“But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a savior, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and the children of Israel sent a present by him unto Eglon the king of Moab. And Ehud made him a sword which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he girded it under his raiment upon his right thigh. And he offered the present unto Eglon king of Moab: now Eglon was a very fat man. And when he had made an end of offering the present, he sent away the people that bare the present. But he himself turned back from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king. And he said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him. And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting by himself alone in his summer parlour. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat. And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly: and the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, for he drew not the sword out of his belly; and it came out behind. Then Ehud went forth into the porch, and shut the doors of the parlor upon him, and locked them. Now when he was gone out, his servants came; and they saw, and, behold, the doors of the parlor were locked; and they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber. And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlor; therefore they took the key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth. And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirah. And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he before them. And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan against the Moabites, and suffered not a man to pass over. And they smote of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, every lusty man, and every man of valour; and there escaped not a man. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years” (Jdg 3:15-30 RV).

Of course, Jesus does not deceive; however, St. Paul informs us, “We speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory: which none of the rulers of this world knoweth: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1Co 2:7-8 RV).

Ehud made for himself a sword with two edges, and we know that the Word of God is a double-edged sword. Ehud used this double-edged sword to kill wickedness. The Word of God kills. It kills to give Life, or it kills both body and soul. The sword was not removed; neither is God’s Word removed from within us. We can either submit to it or rebel against it. In either case, the Word still remains within us. Ehud blew a trumpet in the hill country. “The hill country” brings to remembrance of the fact that our Blessed Mother went with haste into the hill country; therefore, the Church comes into play here. The blowing of the trumpet makes me think of the Last Day when the trumpet will blow and we go to meet our Lord. As we see in our passage, it is not a Day to be feared but the Day we can look forward to with eagerness and rejoicing. Can we not hear our Lord, our Savior, exclaiming, “Follow after me; your enemies have been delivered into your hands.” Nevertheless, the victory belongs to the Lord; He did all the work. Though He is all powerful, He yearns to exalt us, while we yearn to exalt Him. With Othniel, the land rested forty years; here, the land rested twice that time, perhaps connoting eternity. --TT

For more on Othniel see: