Strange Weapons Lesson 1: The Prod (background)February 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Strange Weapons | 13 Comments
Tags: cattle prods, Judges 17, Judges 21, Judges 3, Judges 5, ox goads, Shamgar, Shamgar's ox-goad, spiritual warfare, weapons of spiritual warfare
Strange Weapons: A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher
Lesson One: The Prod
BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND HISTORICAL SETTING
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.
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.
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.