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EGLON (Heb. עֶגְלוֹן; lit. "calf"), king of Moab in the period of the Judges, apparently in the first half of the 12th century b.c.e. The Bible relates that Eglon assembled the *Ammonites and the *Amalekites and with them attacked Israel, subduing the land for 18 years (Judg. 3:12–14). It is likely that Eglon had previously conquered the plain north of the Arnon, a region disputed by Israel and Moab. Eglon and his allies crossed the Jordan, captured the city of Jericho, and from there penetrated to the center of the country and subdued the tribes of Benjamin and Ephraim. It is natural, therefore, that a Benjaminite, the "judge" *Ehud, son of Gera, assassinated Eglon by a ruse and freed Israel from Moabite rule. The events related in Judges 3 appear historically plausible although some scholars have argued that the mention of Eglon's gross obesity (VS. 17, 22) and the chapter's apparent scatological references (vss. 21–25) are indications that the story is fictional political satire.

[Bustanay Oded]

In the Aggadah

Eglon is identified as the grandson of Balak (Yal. 665). Because of the respect he showed to God through rising from his throne when Ehud told him that he had a message from the Lord, he was rewarded: Ruth was his granddaughter (Naz. 24b) and her descendant David "sat on the throne of the Lord" (Ruth R. 2:9).


E.G. Kraeling, in: jbl, 54 (1935), 205–10; K. Galling, in: zdpv, 75 (1959), 1–13; A.H. van Zyl, The Moabites (1960); Y. Kaufmann, Sefer Shofetim (1962), 104–11; W. Richter, Traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Richterbuch (1963), 1ff.; A. Malamat, in: B. Mazar (ed.), Ha-Historyah shel Am Yisrael, ha-Avot ve-ha-Shofetim (1967), 229–30. add. bibliography: B. Halpern, The Bible's First Historians (1980), 39–75; idem, in: abd, 2, 414; M. Brettler, in: huca, 62 (1991), 285–304; Y. Amit, Judges (1999), 71–79.