The name Shamgar is mentioned in the book of Judges (ch. 3:5). This name seems to be alien to the Jews and has been thought perhaps to be Hurrian or Hittite. The foreign name may be because the person’s mother was an Israelite married to a Hurrian or Canaanite. The author has already observed that intermarriages were common. His father was named Anath, the name of a pagan goddess, and it is thought that a Hebrew would only be given this name, by backslidden parents.
Deborah’s song says, “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, and the travelers walked along the byways” (Judges 5:6). This passage describes the sad state of the land of Israel under Canaanite rule. The state of war affected travel and trade to the extent that the highways were deserted and those who had to travel had to use other paths in the countryside.
But the Lord sent a deliverer for His people. “… Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel” (Judges 3:31). This man was a great national hero to come on the scene of action. His deeds were only local, being led against the Philistines in southern Palestine. This warrior lived while Deborah and Barak were attacking the Canaanites in the northern part of the country. Judges 4:1 states that Deborah and Barak carried out their deliverance after Ehud was dead. Deborah implies that Shamgar was a contemporary (Judges 5:6).
By his courageous acts, Shamgar saved the Israelites in his area from being oppressed and enslaved by the Philistines. He was a deliverer but he was not called a judge of Israel. He used an ox goad for fighting. These were often as much as 8 ft. long so that the one holding the plow could reach the oxen. Pointed as they were on one end with a metal tip and having a chisel-shaped blade on the other for scraping the plowshare, such goads could successfully be used as spears.
This fighting tool was a humble weapon, yet an “ox goad,” with God’s blessing, does infinitely more than a “sword of Goliath” without His blessing. Sometimes God chooses to work by such simple means, that His power may truly be revealed. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27).
In His service,