“…when the Israelites cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man…The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Ehud had a sword strapped to his right thigh under his clothing” – Judges 3:15-17
It is a defiant mug. The cheeky play on words painted on the ceramic pushed back on subtle cultural messages that irked my mother.
Lefties Do It Right!
How many products and tools are designed for righthanded people? It wasn’t that long ago that teachers forced lefthanded students to write with their right. Look further back in time and bias against the lefthanded becomes more pronounced. This is perhaps most apparent in language.
The word “left” itself derives from the Anglo-Saxon word “lyft” which means, “weak”. The Latin adjective “sinistrum”, from which we get the word “sinister”, originally meant “left.” In Sanskrit, one word means both “left” and “wicked.”
When referring to someone thought to be clumsy, we say he/she has, “two ____ feet.”
While the Bible doesn’t belittle lefthanded people, elements of cultural bias do seep into its pages. In Jesus’ parable about the sheep and the goats it is the sheep, bound for heaven, that stand on the right. The goats, destined for torment, go to the left. In Genesis, when Israel blessed his grandsons, he made sure that he used his left hand when giving the lesser blessing.
Yet for Ehud, being lefthanded wasn’t a source of shame but the cause of his success.
Ehud was from the tribe of Benjamin (which, ironically, means “son of the righthand”). The tribe of Benjamin, along with all of the tribes of Israel, was subjugated by a neighboring kingdom. Seeking freedom, Ehud was sent to assassinate the foreign king. Under the pretense of paying tribute Ehud entered the throne room with a gift. He asked for a private audience with the king. Why would the king agree to be alone with a soldier from an enemy army? Because Ehud would have been searched for weapons. However, as most people, particularly soldiers, were righthanded they would have checked his left side for a sword. The scriptures clearly state that Ehud, as a lefty, wore his sword on the right side. The king’s guards leave the room thinking Ehud is unarmed and make it possible for Ehud to complete his mission.
The story of lefthanded Ehud reminds me of God’s promise in 2 Corinthians, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Time and again God shows us that he does not see creation in the same way we do. Where the world sees weakness, God sees the ability to do anything. Where our culture sees foolishness, God sees understanding. Christ on the cross looks like defeat and yet is part of love’s ultimate victory. Therefore, give thanks to God! Do not let your God given abilities, characteristics, passions and priorities be shamed by a world that sees upside-down. God’s love is revealed in the fullness of who you are. God’s grace overflows in you.
Let’s put that on a mug.