on Judges 3 :31
And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath - Dr. Hales supposes that "Shamgar's administration in the West included Ehud's administration of eighty years in the East; and that, as this administration might have been of some continuance, so this Philistine servitude which is not noticed elsewhere, might have been of some duration; as may be incidentally collected from Deborah's thanksgiving, Judges 5:6."
Slew - six hundred men with an ox-goad - מלמד הבקר malmad habbakar, the instructer of the oxen. This instrument is differently understood by the versions: the Vulgate has vomere, with the coulter or ploughshare, a dreadful weapon in the hand of a man endued with so much strength; the Septuagint has αροτροποδι των βοων, with the ploughshare of the oxen; the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic, understand it of the goad, as does our translation.
1. That the ox-goad, still used in Palestine, is a sufficiently destructive weapon if used by a strong and skillful hand, is evident enough from the description which Mr. Maundrell gives of this implement, having seen many of them both in Palestine and Syria: "It was observable," says he, "that in ploughing they used goads of an extraordinary size; upon measuring of several I found them about eight feet long, and at the bigger end about six inches in circumference. They were armed at the lesser end with a sharp prickle for driving the oxen, and at the other end with a small spade or paddle of iron, strong and massy, for cleansing the plough from the clay that encumbers it in working." See his Journey from Aleppo, etc., 7th edit., pp. 110, 111. In the hands of a strong, skillful man, such an instrument must be more dangerous and more fatal than any sword. It is worthy of remark that the ox-goad is represented by Homer to have been used prior to this time in the same way. In the address of Diomed to Glaucus, Iliad. lib. vi., ver. 129, Lycurgus is represented as discomfiting Bacchus and the Bacchanals with this weapon. The siege of Troy, according to the best chronologers, happened within the time of the Israelitish judges.
Ουκ αν εγωγε θεοισιν επουρανιοισι μαχοιμην·
Ουδε γαρ ουδε Δρυαντος υἱος κρατερος Λυκουργος
Σευε κατ' ηγαθεον Νυσσηΐον· αἱ δ' ἁμα πασαι
Θυσθλα χαμαι κατεχευαν, ὑπ' ανδροφονοιο Λυκουργου
"I fight not with the inhabitants of heaven;
That war Lycurgus, son of Dryas, waged,
Nor long survived. - From Nyssa's sacred heights
He drove the nurses of the frantic god,
Thought drowning Bacchus: to the ground they cast
All cast, their leafy wands; while, ruthless, he
on Judges 3 :31
From this verse and Judges 5:6 we may gather that Shamgar was contemporary with Jael, and that he only procured a temporary and partial deliverance for Israel by his exploit. He may have been of the tribe of Judah.
An ox goad - An instrument of wood about eight feet long, armed with an iron spike or point at one end, with which to spur the ox at plow, and with an iron scraper at the other end with which to detach the earth from the plowshare when it became encumbered with it. The fact of their deliverer having no better weapon enhances his faith, and the power of his divine helper. At the same time it shows how low the men of Judah were brought at this time, being disarmed by their oppressors Judges 5:8, as was also the case later 1 Samuel 13:19.
on Judges 3 :31
3:31 An ox goad - As Samson did a thousand with the jaw - bone of an ass; both being miraculous actions, and not at all incredible to him that believes a God, who could easily give strength to effect this. It is probable Shamgar was following the plough, when the Philistines made an inroad into the country. And having neither sword nor spear, when God put it into his heart to oppose them, he took the instrument that was next at hand. It is no matter how weak the weapon is, if God direct and strengthen the arm.