Shamgar – turns an insult into a symbol of power.

shamgar-judges-3-31 For the fourth post in this series tracing the way the seven saviour-judges of Israel prefigure Jesus, The Saviour-Judge. We go back in time to Shamgar, the man who inspired Deborah.
[click link to start series]

So chronologically Shamgar should have come before Deborah, but he is easy to forget, given only a single verse as a judge…

After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck Philistines, six hundred men with an oxgoad: and he also is saving Israel” – Judges 3:31

…until Deborah doubles his significance by drawing on Shamgar as inspiration in her victory song,

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.

Deborah won her victory in the Lands of Zebulun and Naphtali in the North and it sounds as though Shamgar’s victory of the Philistines further south had not done much to secure safety in the north even before Jabin and Sisera had arrived on the scene.

Now despite the lack of words there is a bit we can say about Shamgar.

First his name means “called/named a stranger” it contains the same parts as Moses son Gershom but in the opposite order. Next we notice he is the son of Anath, who was a Pagan goddess. So it seems that Shamgar was one of the foreigners who where regularly being absorbed into Israel during this period.

And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons and served their gods.” – Judges 3:5-6

But he clearly identified with Israel’s people.

Oxgoad-of-ShamgarNow it is also worth noting that this pagan-convert-farmer won his victory with an ox-goad. We know from 1 Samuel that the Philistine practice was to remove blacksmiths so the Israelites couldn’t make weapons, then they made the Israelites pay to get tools sharpened…

the price of sharpening was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares, the sickles, the three-pronged forks or the axes, or to set the oxgoads.” – 1 Samuel 13:19-21

You might be spotting the parallels between Shamgar and Jesus by now!

Note that the “sham” of Shamgar is also part of the Hebrew word for  the Heavens, “Shamayim”/”שטים”  because it’s abstract meaning is the essence or nature of something and heaven is literally the place of all essences/types/ideas etc. So like Jesus, Shamgar is a stranger by nature (more than just “named a stranger” ) who has dwelt among us and become one of us, John 1:14.

Crucifixion was used by the Roman’s to shame and rub home their authority in the places it conquered, and in Judea the humiliation also worked as a direct insult because the law of Moses stated that anyone “hung on a tree” was accursed (Deuteronomy 21:23, Galatians 3:13). But like Shamgar, Jesus took the cross, a symbol of humiliation and insult and turned it into a symbol of power and victory.

It is amazing how much the Bible can conceal/reveal in just a couple of verses!

ladder 2And we are beginning to see how together the seven saviour-judges are become a pretty good Type of Christ.

Christen Forster

Christen Forster is widely recognised as an original Bible teacher who brings people into a love of and confidence in scripture.

Christen has planted churches, been a youth worker, mission administrator and church leaders. The author of several books, Christen is now an itinerant minister, helping churches to step into a more deliberately spiritual experience of the Christian life while at the same time firmly rooting their practice in scripture.

© 2000 - 2024 Christen Forster
Christen Forster

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3 Replies to “Shamgar – turns an insult into a symbol of power.”

  1. This is sooooooo good. I have finished reading judges and not really had any sort of revelation and feeling like there must be a reason we are told he is left-handed or the springs of water are mentioned but nothing really clicked into place. Reading this is like a veil has been taken away and I can see Jesus. God bless you and your ministry.

    1. Thanks Anne… FYI I’m doing some online teaching through Psalms at the moment… this is normally just open to partners (see: ) but I’m opening it up to those interested until the summer… obviously my hope is it draws in a few for partners… but you can access the live sessions and recordings during that period.

      Don’t worry, I will only put you on the invite list if you ask to me too!

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