Judges 3:20–21—Does the Bible approve of assassinations?

Problem: The Bible says “the Lord raised up a deliverer” (Jud. 3:15) for Israel over their oppressor, King Eglon of Moab. Then it records how Ehud “took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his [Eglon’s] belly” (v. 21). How can the God who forbids murder (Ex. 20:13) condone a brutal assassination like this?

Solution: This incident, and others like it (cf. Jud. 4:21), are a good example of the principle that “Not everything recorded in the Bible is approved by the Bible” (see Introduction). First of all, the text does not say that God approved of this evil act. It simply states that it occurred.

Second, the fact that God had “raised up” Ehud does not justify everything he did. God “raised up” Pharaoh too (cf. Rom. 9:17), but God nevertheless judged Pharaoh for his sins (cf. Ex. 12).

Third, there are many sins contained in the Bible which are not condoned by it. These include Abraham’s lie (Gen. 20), David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11), and Solomon’s polygamy (1 Kings 11).

Fourth, while assassinations as such are wrong, God reserves the right to life (Deut. 32:39; Job. 1:21). Should He desire to take a life He gives, He has the right to do so through any instrument He may desire, natural or artificial (see comments on Josh. 6:21).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.