Strange Weapons Lesson 1: The Prod (background)

February 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Strange Weapons | 15 Comments
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Strange Weapons: A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher

Lesson One: The Prod


And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.

Judges 3:31

This verse interrupts the suspenseful tale of Ehud and Eglon the way a breaking news story will sometimes interrupt a television program. The breaking news story that day was about a man named Shamgar. The Bible does not tell us a great deal about him. Judges 3:31 and Judges 5:6 are the only Verses in the Bible about him.

In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.

Judges 5:6

Shamgar was apparently honored, because the Bible refers to “the days of Shamgar” in the same way that our secular history books speak of “the Roosevelt years” or “the Reagan years” or “Victorian England.”

Because of the honor afforded to Shamgar and because his account is given in the Book of Judges, it is possible that Shamgar was a judge, although he is not called a “judge” in the Bible.

Judges 5:6 also tells how dangerous the land of Canaan was in those days. It says that “the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways.” In other words, travelers had to sneak around the country to avoid the perils that came with being out in the open or away from inhabited areas in a lawless land.

This is a good place to pause and review this important lesson from the days when these events took place. In the days which are recorded in the Book of Judges, every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25 say almost the same thing, and that is one of the main themes in the Book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” In that respect, it reminds us of America today. We do not live in a society where there are no laws, and for that we may be thankful, but certainly today the most common barometer for a person’s behavior when it comes to moral matters is “what is right in his own eyes.”

When Shamgar appeared on the scene, the Philistines were seriously oppressing God’s people. The reason for this is that God’s people were not acting like God’s people. In fact, the name “Shamgar” isn’t a Hebrew name. Shamgar is called the son of Anath, and Anath was a Canaanite goddess. She was the goddess of sex and war, and she was worshiped as the wife and sister of the false god, Baal. Therefore, it is possible that Shamgar was from a very worldly family. Being raised in a worldly household is certainly not a positive thing, but the fact that God used Shamgar in a great way should be an encouragement to those today who are Christians, but who did not have the advantage of being raised in a godly family. God can choose you and God can use you regardless of your background or upbringing.

Shamgar was probably a simple farmer, not noble or wealthy, but one day something caused Shamgar to rise up on behalf of God and kill 600 Philistines with a very strange weapon. This weapon was his ox-goad – what we would call a cattle prod. It was a tool that was probably between five and ten feet long. It would have had a sharp iron point on one end and a small shovel or spade on the other end. The sharp point was used to keep the oxen moving while plowing and the spade was used for cleaning the plow which the oxen pulled.

This prod was a useful tool, but it made a strange weapon. Keeping this background information in mind, next time I will make three comparisons between Shamgar’s prod, which he used as a weapon, and the weapons of our spiritual warfare today. The prod was a strange weapon, and the weapons which God will use in our lives today as we wage spiritual warfare may seem just as strange.


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  1. […] now, let’s skip over to the Book of Judges, which describes a very dark time in Israel’s history. God’s chosen people were rebelling against Him, worshiping false idols and […]

  2. […] the land of Canaan, in the days of the Judges of Israel, God’s people often failed to act like God’s people. As their priests failed to […]

  3. […] Last time we looked at the background information on Shamgar and his ox-goad (or cattle prod), which you can read about in Judges 3:31 and 5:6. Here are three comparisons between Shamgar’s prod, which he used as a weapon, and the weapons of our spiritual warfare today: […]

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  5. […] Lesson One, I renamed Shamgar's ox-goad a "prod" (as in cattle prod). Now I'm going to call Jael's "nail" a […]

  6. […] Weapons: A Prod, a Peg, and a […]

  7. […] One: The Prod (Judges 3:31) A prod is used in provoking. A prod is used in plowing. A prod is used in […]

  8. […] spiritually speaking. 21st Century America is a very similar to the time period described in the Book of Judges. People are mainly doing “what is right in their own eyes” instead of what God has […]

  9. […] Weapons (Series 1): A Prod, a Peg, and a […]

  10. […] where the phrase originated. It might have come from the idea of someone getting your “goad.” A goad is a sort of prod or instrument used to irritate recalcitrant farm animals into moving forward. It […]

  11. […] are many metaphors for life: a contest; a war; a game; a race; a battle; a trap; a puzzle. You were probably taught in school that the first […]

  12. […] 1. Teaching the 3rd and 4th Commandments to Children (see commentary here) 2. How Tall Was Jesus? 3. What the Bible Says about Neighbors 4. Strange Weapons Lesson 3: The Pitcher (factual summary) 5. Parallelism in Psalms 6. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket 7. You Can’t Get Blood from a Turnip 8. Explaining the Meaning of Biblical “Authority” to Children 9. Different Types of Burdens 10. Strange Weapons Lesson 1: The Prod (background) […]

  13. […] That’s the point. It’s “your” evidence (Judges 17:6) so you’ve subjectively labeled it as “conclusive.” And your “evidence” is just a self-assertion. […]

  14. […] another object as a symbol and to preach an “illustrated” or “action” sermon. The yoke is a well-known Bible symbol because of it’s ubiquity in agrarian societies, where pulling-animals like oxen […]

  15. […] (Part 2) 26. Beware the Flagging Finishers 27. Strange Weapons: The Prod, the Peg, and the Pitcher a. The Prod (background) (Judges 3:31; 5:6) b. The Prod (comparisons and conclusion) c. The Peg (introduction and narrative) […]

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