Left-Handed

 

Judges 20:16

 

Judges 3:15 and 20:16 specifically refer to a warrior’s left-handedness. While ordinarily a man’s dominant hand may be too trivial even for trivia buffs, there is an advantage to being left-handed when physical confrontations are involved. Everything comes at you from the wrong side.

 

History has not dealt kindly toward left-handedness. Even into the 20th century, left-handedness was seen as something sinister, or gauche – a condition to be corrected, even if through force. It is interesting that sinistral and gauche are actually the Latin and French words for left, while the corresponding words for right are dextral and droit. The modern word sinister simply means evil or suspicious. The modern word gauche means awkward or clumsy.

 

The order is fascinating: Sinistral does not have anything to do with evil or suspicion. It means left-handed. Sinister comes from sinistral; it does mean evil or suspicious; and the derivation of the word implies that being sinister is a consequence of being left-handed.

 

I wonder if there might be any connection to left-handedness being mentioned only twice in all of scripture, and that both mentions occur in the book of the Bible set apart to show the base venality of a people let alone to do what is right in their own eyes. But I suspect no connection exists.

 

The big hole of a pair of scissors is on the wrong side. The valves of the trumpet, the stick shift, the fanning of a pinochle hand hides the values of the cards that were dealt. The world treats you as though gauche when you are left-handed.

 

It may be a coincidence, but the stigma of being left-handed went away about the same time that sports popularity started to rise. Batters in baseball games get a fraction of a second before they must decide whether or not to swing. And when the pitcher is left-handed, the ball is coming from the wrong direction. This places a premium on the left-handed pitcher – even before you know anything else about him. My own son is left-handed. He excelled as a first baseman. But at the tryouts, the coach took one look at him, and thought “pitcher.”

 

When you play tennis with John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors, the ball is spinning the wrong way, causing you to play an inferior game. Football defenders chasing quarterbacks such as Steve Young, Michael Vick or Tim Tebow discover they run the wrong way as you pursue them – after it is too late for you to adjust. For some reason left-handed bowlers score higher than right-handed bowlers – though I have no idea why that should be. Some people explain it through the earth’s rotation. Let them. I have better things to rebut.

 

Since the day Richard Nixon resigned, we have seated seven Presidents. Only Jimmy Carter and George W. were right-handed. The 1992 Presidential campaign featured three viable candidates. All three were left-handed. Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman were left-handed.

 

Ehud is the only person in the Bible identified by name to be left-handed. And is seems reasonable to think that gave him advantage in the battle – and that’s why the Holy Spirit mentions it. In Judges 20, we meet a platoon of 700 men who were 1) chosen; 2) left-handed; and 3) able to throw a stone at a hair and not miss. In that context, left-handedness seems to be a qualification of advantage in battle. There is commentary that suggests that these men were not all natural left-handers, but were trained as left-handers to have an advantage in battle.

 

Training a right-hander to fight left-handed. Now that impresses me as sinistral.

 

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