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Judge Shamgar in the Bible: Lessons and Facts

In this series of articles we will look at the life of Shamgar in the Bible. You will be surprised as we do this Bible study… So, grab your Bible and let’s learn together…

As we have explored Judges chapter 3 with the study of Othniel, and Ehud. It’s time to close it up with our final judge…Shamgar! Now, the Bible gave us a little to chew on when came to 1st and 2nd judge, but with Shamgar we are left scratching our heads a bit.

Why? Because is whole story is literally in one verse. And one tiny mention in the song of Deborah and Barak.

That’s it!

This guy didn’t really get much attention. At least not from a Biblical standpoint. So, how can we study Shamgar is only mentioned in two verses. Well, we pull on the Hebrew text and historical writings/commentaries. From there we will do our best to get a better understanding of who he was.

Shamgar in the Bible

Shamgar in The Bible: The Son of Anath

After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel. – Judges 3:31

Did you read that verse in blue? Yup, his story. No, details…

What we do know that Shamgar came to the scene after Ehud. This probably after the 80 years of peace that Israel experienced. We see that he took down 600 philistines with an oxgoad (more on that later) and he saved Israel.

And according to the Strong’s Concordance his name means, “sword.” Pretty fitting to his story.

Now, we do see some family connection…Shamgar is the son of Anath!

Anath Who?? And Was Shamgar an Israelite?

This is when things get a little complicated. This is because the Canaanites actually worshiped a goddess of that same name. And she happen to be the sister of Baal. This is what we can read from the Encyclopaedia Britannica…

“Anath, also spelled Anat, chief West Semitic goddess of love and war, the sister and helpmate of the god Baal. Considered a beautiful young girl, she was often designated “the Virgin” in ancient texts. Probably one of the best-known of the Canaanite deities, she was famous for her youthful vigour and ferocity in battle; in that respect she was adopted as a special favourite by the Egyptian king Ramses II” (source)

This solid cast bronze figurine served as votive offering and is surely Anat, a fertility goddess who is the sister and consort of Baal.
(Image Source)

Because of this many scholars and historians believe that Shamgar wasn’t an Israelite. We don’t see any mention of tribe, other people who could hint to his nationality. We also find there is no mention of how long he ruled and if he brought peace to Israel. All other judges mention these things.

Some do think this could be a reference to the location of his birth, a Canaanite town in Galilee. The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women take it a different way saying that Anath was abbreviated for a longer name, and in Jewish tradition they would mention the father not the mother. But they even mention how other extrabiblical data support the idea of Shamgar not being an Israelite.

Therefore, the name Anath, in this instance, may be a shortened form of a masculine name such as Anathothijah or Anatyahu, which may simply mean “sign(s) of YHWH.” If so, then Shamgar’s name would have nothing to do with the goddess Anath. Yet because Shamgar was a warrior and Anath a warrior deity, and because place names such as Beth-anoth point to the veneration of the goddess among some Israelites, the label “son of Anath” following Shamgar’s name may indeed connect him with the goddess. Extrabiblical data support such a possibility.” (source)

The Ox Goad

I remember first reading about the ox goad and thinking, “what in the world is that??” In our modern world, we have no clue what some of these Biblical items are. An ox goad isn’t a weapon, but a tool farmers used to drive or urge an animal. This tool was used to drive oxen. So, Shamgar used a farming tool to take down 600 Philistines. Interesting it’s the number 600. If you study numbers in the Bible you will know that numbers can carry symbolic meaning. 6 is usually connected to the number of man, the flesh, or satan.

Shamgar in the Song of Deborah

Later on in Judges 5, we see Shamgar is mentioned again in the song of Deborah and Barak.

“In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths. – Judges 5:6 NIV

From what we can gather is that in the days of Shamgar the highways were abandoned. Probably because of evil people killing and stealing from innocent travelers on the road. Shamgar (and the judge Jael) had enough and fought back.

FAQ on Judge Shamgar

Below are a few key questions on Shamgar. If you happen to have a question about him, feel free to leave me a comment at the bottom with your question. I will do my best to answer it.

What tribe is Shamgar from?

It is unknown what tribe Shamgar is from. He might have not been an Israelite.

What is the meaning of Shamgar in the Bible?

According, to the Strong’s Concordance it means “sword.”

What is an ox goad?

An ox goad is a tool farmers used to drive oxen.

Who was Anath?

Anath was a Canaanite goddess of war and love. The sister of pagan god, Baal.

Free Shamgar Bible Study PDF

I have been creating Character study sheets for each judge in the Bible. Even though Shamgar is small you can use this printable to help you study. If you would like to download it all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter.

Shamgar bible character study
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The Many Judges in the Bible

Do you want to learn about other judges in the Bible?? Well, I got you covered. I have created a series on all the different judges. Some of them have incredible life stories that we can learn from. You can go through all of them by clicking the links.

Who would have thought that Shamgar wasn’t who we thought him to be! I sure hope this Bible study has helped you in your spiritual growth or even sermon notes If you would like to leave me a comment you can do so below. I would love to know how you are growing in the Lord.

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