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Judges 3:31

ESV After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.
NIV After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.
NASB Now after him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck and killed six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel.
CSB After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath became judge. He also delivered Israel, striking down six hundred Philistines with a cattle prod.
NLT After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath rescued Israel. He once killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad.
KJV 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.

What does Judges 3:31 mean?

The event described in this verse does not fit the typical pattern of the book of Judges. It reads more like a minor episode, and not much detail is provided. However, Shamgar is listed as one of Israel's deliverers during this era. The unique nature of this event suggests that the judges who served in Israel may not have formed a perfect, linear chain. Shamgar, for instance, may well have rescued Israel during the eighty years of peace secured by Ehud (Judges 3:30). That, as well, suggests that the exploits of each judge likely did not cover the entire nation of Israel, but only certain areas.

Shamgar came "after" Ehud in some way, either after the victory over the Moabites or after Ehud's death. Either option is possible. Shamgar is described as the son of Anath. Some scholars suggest certain Egyptian or Canaanite soldiers served under the banner of the goddess of war, known as Anath. In that case, it would mean Shamgar was not an Israelite, but used by God all the same to provide some deliverance to Israel.

The details here are so sparse it's not even clear Shamgar intended to fight on behalf of Israel. He may simply have been used by God to deliver Israel from local oppression. His act, or acts, might have somehow prevented a threat from the Philistines in the north. All the Bible implies is that Shamgar was in the right place and time to obtain victory over 600 Philistines. Whether this was all in a single battle, or over some period, is not clear. Whatever the exact circumstances, Shamgar's success provided deliverance for Israel.

An oxgoad was a long stick used to direct cattle. This was hardly a flimsy object. Oxgoads were typically longer than a person was tall, made of thick wood, with a point on one end and a flat shovel-like blade at the other. These were not as long, sharp, or powerful as a full-fledged spear, but in the right hands it could be a potent weapon.

The more familiar pattern of Judges picks up again in the beginning verses of chapter four.
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