the Biblical way to assassinate a tyrant

In Judges 3 there is an interesting story that details how Eglon the Moabite was assassinated by the Jews. The first part of the story is that God raised up Eglon to punish the Jews:

Jdg 3:12 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.

So God is using a pagan government and has ordained that government for his purpose. Eglon rules 18 years over Israel and oppresses Israel. In response, a single man is “raised up” by God to kill Eglon. What happens next is a somewhat humorous instance of divine assassination:

Jdg 3:14 So the children of Israel served Eglon king of Moab eighteen years.
Jdg 3:15 But when the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for them: Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. By him the children of Israel sent tribute to Eglon king of Moab.
Jdg 3:16 Now Ehud made himself a dagger (it was double-edged and a cubit in length) and fastened it under his clothes on his right thigh.
Jdg 3:17 So he brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.)
Jdg 3:18 And when he had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who had carried the tribute.
Jdg 3:19 But he himself turned back from the stone images that were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” He said, “Keep silence!” And all who attended him went out from him.
Jdg 3:20 So Ehud came to him (now he was sitting upstairs in his cool private chamber). Then Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” So he arose from his seat.
Jdg 3:21 Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly.
Jdg 3:22 Even the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out.

The scene brings up many questions. How did Ehud know that he was being “raised up” by God? Did Ehud take this upon himself? Is Ehud the ancient version of Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Would Dietrich Bonhoeffer likewise have been justified in killing Hitler because he was “raised up” by God? When is political assassination of tyrants acceptable? To what extent is God involved in selecting and raising his agents? When Paul says to be subject to the government (Rom 13:1), would Paul have condemned a successful Israeli freedom campaign against the Romans?

These are valid questions.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, God, Morality, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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