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SHAMGAR (Heb. שַׁמְגַּר), son of Anath, deliverer of Israel who flourished in the period of the Judges. According to Judges 3:31, he saved Israel by slaying 600 Philistines with an oxgoad. The Song of Deborah describes the times in which Shamgar lived as so dangerous that the highways were unused, travelers preferring to walk through the safer byways (Judg. 5:6). The reports about Shamgar are unusual in that no information of a personal or family nature is given about his tribal affiliation, the exact time at which he lived, or the duration of his influence. It is not said that he judged Israel, nor are his death or burial recorded. It is only known that he lived after *Ehud and before *Deborah. The name Shamgar appears to be of Hurrian origin and may well be Šimig-ar (i), "[the god] Shimike gave." "Anath" was the name of a Canaanite goddess. It may have a mythological association or it may refer to the birthplace of the hero, a Canaanite town in Galilee. There is no certainty, therefore, that Shamgar was an Israelite. The connection between his exploits against the Philistines and the report of Judges 5:6 is also unclear. It is not likely that he attempted to clear the roads of marauding Philistine bands, since at the time of Deborah (c. 1125 b.c.e.) the Philistines did not yet constitute a threat to Israel. Some scholars believe that Shamgar was a foreign oppressor who, like Sisera later on, may have brought northern Palestine under his control and oppressed the Israelites. The author of the late reference in Judges 3:31 would thus have derived Shamgar, the Israelite judge, from the older Song of Deborah (5:6), a misappropriation which transformed a foreign oppressor into an Israelite judge. This view is also highly unlikely since the Song of Deborah parallels Shamgar with Jael, who is clearly pro-Israelite. It has been observed that Shamgar's adventure bears striking resemblance to those of *Samson, who also used the jawbone of an ass to slay the Philistines (Judg. 15:15–16). In fact, he may have belonged to the time of Samson.


W.F. Albright, in: jpos, 1 (1921), 55–62; Noth, Personennamen, 122–3; B. Mazar, in: Palestine Exploration Fund (1934), 192–4; J.T. Milik, in: basor, 143 (1956), 3–6; Bright, Hist, 157; Y. Kaufmann, Sefer Shofetim (1962), 112, 134; F. Ch. Fensham, in: jnes, 20 (1961), 197–8; C. Gordon, in: A. Altmann (ed.), Biblical and Other Studies (1963), 13.

[Nahum M. Sarna]