20And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.
21And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:
22And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.
23Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.
Was he surprised by an assassin? Possibly not:
According to a recent best-selling biography that includes some toilet history, in 16th-century Europe sitting on the toilet—history reveals—was “a common way for royals to receive visitors.” Royalty was unconcerned with privacy. But the issue may not have been privacy at all. Royalty could do what it wanted. What might be distasteful for the average person was a prerogative of status. It seems at least possible to conclude from the Biblical text that this was also true of ancient toilets in Eglon’s time.
More on privies and privacy in the March/April 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. Full article here. Hat tip to FS for the link.