Judges 5:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 5:6, NIV: In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths.

Judges 5:6, ESV: “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned, and travelers kept to the byways.

Judges 5:6, KJV: 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, NASB: 'In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, In the days of Jael, the roads were deserted, And travelers went by roundabout ways.

Judges 5:6, NLT: 'In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, and in the days of Jael, people avoided the main roads, and travelers stayed on winding pathways.

Judges 5:6, CSB: In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the main roads were deserted because travelers kept to the side roads.

What does Judges 5:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This chapter is a poetic song of victory, composed by the prophetess and judge, Deborah (Judges 4:4–5; 5:1). She has described the greatness of the Lord God (Judges 5:2–5). Now she describes the desperate times out of which she was raised up as a prophetess.

She describes the dark days of Shamgar (Judges 3:31). Shamgar was mentioned in a single verse at the end of Judges 3. Extraordinarily little detail is given about him, other than He was used by God to kill 600 Philistines at a crucial moment. This may have happened during or shortly after Ehud's time as a judge over Israel. The description of Shamar as "son of Anath" might mean "servant of the goddess Anath," suggesting he was a non-Israelite nevertheless used by God.

Another non-Israeli who was part of God's plan is Jael, the wife of Heber, who deftly killed the Canaanite general Sisera while he slept in her tent (Judges 4:20–22). Deborah will describe her as "most blessed of women" for this act on Israel's behalf (Judges 5:24).

It is telling that Deborah mentions the Lord's use of two non-Israelites to save Israel. This reinforces Israel's faithlessness to the Lord. It also demonstrates that God is the one who saves Israel by any means He so chooses.

Though these were bright spots, they came during a time when Israel, especially in the north, was cruelly oppressed. It was not safe for the people of the Lord—or, perhaps, for anyone—to be out on the highways. Sisera's iron chariots likely had much to do with this threat (Judges 4:3). Instead, travelers during that time came and went by lesser-traveled roads to avoid danger.