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Just 1 Verse for Shamgar
Judges 3:31 gives us one verse to the judge after Ehud, Shamgar. All we learn from the Bible is that he kills 600 Philistines with an oxgoad. An impressive feat to be sure, but little in the way of his parentage or what he meant to the Israelites. Shamgar does get mentioned in the song of Deborah (Judges 5:6). Deborah’s Song displays his prominence among the western tribes of Israel where the Palm of Deborah was located. While we know little of how long Shamgar upheld the rule of Israel when can guess some things based on his title, Son of Anath.
Many scholars place Shamgar as a Hurrian, which is an offshoot of the Hittites. Given that God commanded that the Israelites drive the Hittites from the land it is interesting that God would use such a foreigner in his service to save Israel. Anath was likely not in reference to his parentage rather Anath was a God of the Canaanites and of Egypt.
Anath was a warrior God, and his followers were believed to have special training and increased battle skills much like the Navy Seals of the United States or the British SAS. Thus Shamgar using an oxgoad was likely an improvised weapon in a battle of special forces (Sons of Anath) with the Philistines. These forces were most likely based in Egypt at the time.
The Economic Connection
Egypt was wise to always prize the trade route through the land of Canaan. The country needed trade with the other great empires of the time like Babylon and Assyria. Egypt supporting the Israelites makes sense because they just had 80 years of peace. Peace is good for business and making sure the trade routes remain safe and open. We know the trade routes are the first thing to come under attack because the Song of Deborah mentions how the highways become abandoned after Shamgar leaves Israel (due to death or recall).
In the end, though much of this is conjecture. What we know is Shamgar, a foreigner, saves Israel. What this tells me about God is that He is willing to get creative to reach out to his people. God works from places that try to get our attention that first make sense then become more and more noticeable. Foreigners are despised among the Israelites, but God is willing to go beyond their expectations to reach out to them. God is reaching out to all of us beyond our expectations. We just have to stop and look at the wonders he provides us.
How has God gone beyond your expectations to reach out to you? If you don’t think He has, then it might be worth reflecting back on your life to see where he rescued you in an unlikely way from something that could have been much worse.