Devotional article on Hebrew words in the story Ehud

Posted in

Here are some things to ponder on in the story of Ehud.

Cry out to God

As babies, we learn to cry out when we need help. Even when we learn to speak, we sometimes don’t know the words to say. God understands our cries for help even if we don’t know the words.

At the beginning of the story of Ehud (Judges 3:12–30), he is introduced as God’s response to the people’s cry for help.

Verse 15 says the people ‘cried out’ to the Lord. This word in Hebrew is: וַיִּזְעֲק֣וּ = way-yiz-‘ă-qū from the root word zaaq (Strongs ref: 2199) meaning to cry, cry out, call. It’s used when the people of Israel cry out to God to free them from being slaves in Egypt (Exodus 2:23).

Included in this word is the concept of crying out due to distress or sorrow, as well as crying out to gather people to help you.

Pause for thought / chat:

  • Q How might you use this word in prayer?

Link: Strong’s Hebrew: 2199. זָעַק (zaaq) — to cry, cry out, call (

Ask for Help

Even as an adult, I find it hard to admit when I need help. God knows that we can’t do everything on our own and the bible is full of God sending helpers. Just ask!

In Judges 3:15, Ehud is introduced as a rescuer, or deliverer, which sets up our expectations for what he will do.

The word ‘deliverer’ is the same word used about Moses when he helps Jethro’s daughters at the well in Exodus 2, and about what God did when he took the Israelites out from being slaves in Egypt in Exodus 14.

The root Hebrew word is yasha, meaning save, deliver, rescue, help.

It’s a word used over 200 times in the Old Testament, including one of my favourite verses, Zephaniah 3:17:

“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

It is the same concept as Zechariah speaks of when his son, John the Baptist, is born:

“He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us

(Luke 1:69-71)

Pause for thought / chat:

  • Q Which is your favourite deliverance story?
  • Q Do you have your own deliverance story?

Meaningful Names

Where did your name come from? Some names have important meanings, and some are just special because it came from someone in your family.

The word ‘yasha’ (see above) is part of Joshua’s name, the other part coming from Yahweh, the special name for God: in Hebrew Joshua is Yehoshua, pronounced yeh-ho-shoo-ah. His name literally means: ‘The Lord is salvation’.

Did you know that when the same name is translated from Greek into English, we get the name Jesus?

Cool, huh?

Pause for thought / chat:

  • Q What could Ehud’s story tell us about the role of Jesus as our saviour?


Imagine the story of Ehud being told around campfires in ancient Israel, in the time before King David.

Pause for thought / chat:

  • Q What impact might this story have had on the listeners?
  • Q How might the tellers have made their story memorable?
  • Q Would children have been listening?
  • Q Would the Israelites still tell this story around campfires after their exile from the land?
  • Q Would the impact be different after the exile?