Shamgar has GOT to be one of the more mysterious judges, if not characters, in all the Bible. I’ve been doing my morning Bible devotions around the book of Judges lately. I’ve been working with my young adults through the book of Ruth and that takes place in the time of judges, so I figured I better learn me something about these here judges before the young adults have questions that I can’t answer.
So I reading Judges 3 and you hear about Othniel, who saved Israel from the Mesopotamian king. We get details about how many years the Israelites were in bondage and then how many years Israel had rest and how long Othniel lived. You get the name of the king he defeated. You even hear a little about his genealogy. He was the son of Kenaz and Caleb’s younger brother.
Next you hear about Ehud. You learn that the Ammonites and the Amelekites defeated Israel. Then you learn how Ehud killed the king of Moab. It is actually a pretty cool story. This guy must have been planning this for a very long time for the operation to go as it did. We even learn that Ehud is a left-handed man. There is a lot of detail in Ehud’s story.
Then you get to Shamgar.
Just so you don’t miss it, I am going to put everything we learn about him in chapter 3 below, so be prepared to do some reading:
Judges 3:31 – After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.
The next time we hear about Shamgar, we are listening to Deborah’s son in chapter 5 where she simply mentions that in the days of Shamgar, there were no caravans because something must’ve happened to the roads.
The mystery surrounding him is so great that both Jewish scholars and Christian scholars disagree as to his purpose.
Let’s look a little at Shamgar and just who he MIGHT be.
Shamgar is not an Israelite name. And Anath? Well, Anath is a Canaanite goddess of war!
Jewish scholars believe that Shamgar is not a judge, but one of the leaders of the oppressing tribes, likely Hittite and possibly even the father of Sisera. The Philistines shouldn’t even be in the picture at the time of this entry.
Another Jewish scholar believes this this verse is out of place and that it was most likely one of David’s mighty men, Shammah son of Agee. This would mean that the Biblical writing was eventually corrupted to say Shamgar. I don’t like this rationale. It would mean that the Bible isn’t infallible or inerrant, and I believe it is.
One Bible scholar believes that he might not have been Israelite, but instead came from a military family. In those times, men would have been known as “son of…” and many times the town would associate with the name of a deity. This could have been a non-Israelite military family from a town that worshiped Anath. It could also be that he was part of a mixed Israelite-Canaanite marriage.
There are other
All we know from the Bible is that Shamgar’s time was in between Ehud and Deborah and then later Deborah sang about him and that he killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad (an 8’ long stick that was used to prod oxen).
We don’t know if he killed 600 Philistines in one day, like a mini-Samson, or if this was over his lifetime. But that number does put him in good company with only Saul, David and Samson killing more Philistines.
But what does it for me is the mystery.
Why is this guy in here?
God doesn’t just put words on a paper to fill a word quota. There is a purpose behind every word in the Bible.
What is Shamgar’s purpose?
Then I got to praying.
“God, why on earth am I so obsessed with this guy Shamgar right now? Why do you have me so hyperfocused on him?”
Then it hit me. Shamgar did some amazing stuff, but didn’t get anything other than a byline in the Bible.
I want to want that for myself.
I want to be the person who affects so many lives but no one really cares but God.
That is a tough place to be because I kinda like the limelight. I like to preach a sermon and see faces light up. I like to teach a small group and see the eyes of everyone as they finally understand something they never did before. I like to be the one that is relied upon.
That was tough for me to write. I hate to admit that.
But I like people to need me.
Perhaps Shamgar is in there for people just like me. To know that others really do need you, but they don’t have to celebrate the fact that they do.