1. Exposition

Was it dung that came out?

Judges 3:22 (ESV)

22 And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out.

The original Hebrew has, And he went out to the [הַפַּרְשְׁדֹנָה]. The meaning of the word is uncertain. It is possible that the word is a technical architectural term, referring to the area into which the assassin Ehud exited and began his escape. This would make Ehud the subject of the verb went out. Some, like the NIV, take the noun as back, understand sword (from the preceding clause) as the subject, and translate along the lines of, The sword came out his [Eglon’s] back. But this rendering is unlikely since the Hebrew word for sword is feminine while the verb came out is in the masculine here. In the final analysis, the debated text could very well be a reference to Eglon soiling himself, given the relaxation of muscles upon death and the attendants’ thought that he was relieving himself (Judges 3:24), likely because of the odour. And the irony and humor of the situation would not have escaped early Israelite leaders. All that remained of Eglon, the fattened calf, the mighty ruler of Moab, was a corpse and a pile of feces.1