Massacre by a Cattle Prod – Judges 3:31
[Due to technical difficulties class joined in progress: Judges 3:31, "After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel."] …who strike down six hundred Philistines, so there is clearly some sort of Philistine assault, some sort of Philistine opposition…did the sound just come on? We're studying in Judges 3:31 the deliverance of Shamgar; he is not a judge. So we need to ask the question, what's going on here with the Philistines, how did they attack, where was it felt, when did it occur. We need to ask another more important question, who is Shamgar? Is he a Jew or not? From where does he come and how does he emerge as a champion of Israel? Then we need to ask, and it's a very difficult question to answer, how did he manage to slaughter 600 Philistines who were known for their military might, for their technological advance, and their ruthlessness, and he defeats them with is called in the text an oxgoad, but if you're from any place where they have cattle it's we call now a cattle prod. And it wasn't electrified so it shows that he had tremendous military skill.
Now in terms of when Shamgar, when this episode takes place, we really don't know for sure. The author puts it in place here between the judgeship of Ehud and the judgeship of Deborah. The only other mention of Shamgar in the Scripture is found in Judges 5:6 where it just mentions "in the days of Shamgar, son of Anath," and that relates to the oppression that occurs during the same time as Deborah. So what happens here is as far as we can judge is that Shamgar's deliverance takes place at roughly the same time as the judgeship of Deborah that's covered in Judges 4-5. It might precede it a little bit; it might be taking place just in the first part.
If we look at Judges 4:4 it says "Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time." And that indicates that this is a period of time that she is judging, it's a participle, and it indicates that there's this process of time that takes place prior to the military assault that takes place from Jabin, the king of Canaan, who is reigning out of a northern town that had been previously destroyed by Joshua, and he is trying to apparently resurrect his dynasty, and reassert the power, Hazor was a strong military fortification and they had a stronghold for Canaanite resistance to Joshua during the conquest and they were conquered completely and destroyed by Joshua. So apparently one of the dynasty, Jabin interestingly enough seems to be more of a title, a dynastic title rather than a personal name and he seems to be somebody in the royal family of Hazor survived and now that they have probably reached adulthood, they are seeking to rally the troops and to see if they can throw the Jews out of the land. It has sort of a modern ring to it, doesn't it, especially with everything going on in Israel right now.
So in terms of time Ehud comes along during this probably transition period. After Ehud has died the land was undisturbed for 80 years and then you have a growing threat coming from the north. Now if we look at a map and Old Testament study always necessitates having a map handy so you can orient yourself, what we see here is that the first assault came from the north; up in the north in the Mesopotamian area of modern Syria and the assault came in from the north and down this way. And it was a judge from the south from down near Debir just outside of Hebron that Othniel came and rallied the troops and made a move north. Now in Israel that's only about 70 miles, it's not that far. So they rallied the troops and went north and defeated the oppressor in the north.
Then the second oppressor came from the southeast, Moab, across the Jordan in the area known as the Transjordan, and he came across the fords of the Jordan and set up a stronghold in Jericho. And we saw the episode with Ehud, he takes out Eglon, assassinates Eglon and then rallies the troops of Ephraim in the hill country, they come down and seize the fords which cuts off the backdoor escape hatch for the troops, and they kill 10,000 in the Moabite army. Eighty years goes by which is two generations biblically speaking, which gives the Arabs, and we saw how all of these groups are descendants of the Arabs, it gives these Arab forces an opportunity to rebuild their troops. So now they reassert themselves. Now Hazor is located up here in the north. Here is Mount Tabor, this is the area of the battle, and Hazor is located roughly I this vicinity. That's where the battle with Deborah is going to be.
Now the point I'm making is that this battle that Shamgar engages in comes from the Philistines. Now the Philistines have a stronghold. The Philistines were Greek sea peoples and during this time period and for about 200 years prior to this, the Greeks had been sending out just waves of settlers who had been leaving Greece and going out all around the Mediterranean and establishing colonies. One of their colonies was over in Carthage and that became one of their strongest colonies and eventually the Carthaginians were a major enemy of Rome and eventually defeated by Rome, they were led by Hannibal; Hannibal was the one who led the armies of Carthage over the Alps on elephants. So those were related to the Philistines. They also assaulted the northern shore of Egypt. They tried to establish colonies to the north of Egypt and so the Pharaohs, through several generations, had to provide armies and strengthen their defenses along the coastline in the north to prevent the incursion of the Philistine sea peoples. And then there's a group that comes along here and establishes their colonies, just along the coast here in what we now call the Gaza Strip. In fact, Gaza was one of the five cities of the lords of the Philistines. So you see that Israel is being assaulted from the southeast, from the north, from the southwest, and even from this Canaanite incursion, but the Canaanites under Jabin are in alliance with the Arab forces that surround them. So you always see this thing going on.
Now this is all important, to do this kind of historical analysis, especially in something like this, in order to find out what the Holy Spirit is trying to communicate to us. We see in Judges 3:31, "After him," that is after Ehud, "came Shamgar." Now the next question we ask is who is Shamgar. Let's go back; I want to finish answering that first question: this assault from the southwest, from the Philistines, is not a major incursion but it seems to be there is some military pressure felt in the tribe of Judah in the south from the Philistines, it's not as major, it's not as significant as the previous ones but there is a strong military threat from the south, from the Philistine colony there.
So we're told that this individual is named Shamgar. If you have been around here for a while you know that one of the characteristics of the Hebrew language is that words are made up of consonants; it's called a trilateral root, every word just about in Hebrew is composed of three consonants and they don't have vowels. Vowels were simply added later. Vowels were pronounced but they weren't written and that is characteristic of Hebrew, so that you have somebody like David and you have a Dalet, a Vav, and a Dalet, and the "w" is pronounced like a "v" and you insert the vowels, so you see that David has a name composed of three letters. You have Barak, the three consonants are b-r-k. Ehud starts off with an Aleph, you have an initial consonant that is transliterated like an apostrophe, and then the vowel point, and the second consonant, "h" and then a "d." So you see all of these names are based on a trilateral root, and that trilateral root sometimes have a suffix added or not, sometimes longer words like Abraham are combinations of two Hebrew words, but when you come to a word like Shamgar if you count the consonants you discover there aren't three, there are four.
That's generated a tremendous amount of discussion in the scholarly literature about just what kind of name is Shamgar, it's not a Hebrew name, which means he came from somewhere else, he is not a native Jew. Now that is an extremely important point to understand what the test is getting at here. Not only is Shamgar not a Hebrew text but we've discovered from archeological records at Neuzi which was an important archeological discovery north of Israel and dating to this time, that this is a Hurrian name. The Hurrians were an ancient people an ancient people who lived during this time and they operated in Syria, so we see that he is a Hurrian.
The Hurrians were a mercenary people, sort of like the Swiss provided mercenary soldiers to guard the Pope, I think they still do, and in the 19th, 18th, on back into the 17th century, the Swiss have always preserved their neutrality but they have had a strong marshal bent and they have provided mercenary troops that have been among the highest and best trained troops in the modern world. For example, before the French Revolution the kings of France were all guarded by Swiss troops, they were mercenary troops. So the Hurrians were mercenaries and we know from Egyptian records that there were a large number of Hurrian mercenaries operating in the Egyptian army. Now that's a second important thing to learn from history.
Another thing we need to observe in the text is that his name is Shamgar Ben-Anath, Shamgar the son of Anath. The Hebrew word for "son" is the word "ben," and in Benjamin, son of my right hand. So he is called the son of Anath. Now who is Anath? In the Canaanite religious system the chief god is El who is kind of off center stage right now, in the background and he's really replaced by his son, Baal, the storm god. Baal is also known in Phoenician as Hedad. Now Baal has a consort, a female goddess, named Anath, who is the goddess of war and she is an extremely violent blood individual. You read through some of the ancient texts that describe her wading through the battlefield drinking blood and gore dripping off of her teeth and off of her hands and it's just horrendous sort of stuff. And Anath is the female goddess of war. And we know that as far back as the 19th century BC, which his 1800-1900 BC that Anath was assimilated into the Egyptian pantheon of goddesses, and she becomes the personal protectress of the Pharaoh. And we have evidence that from at least the 15th or 14th century the elite troops that guarded the Pharaoh, just as the elite troops that guarded Caesar were called the Praetorian guard and you have the Swiss troops that guarded the French kings, the elite troops of the Pharaoh, the special forces, the force recon types of the Egyptian army were called the "Sons of Anath." That was their technical name in Egyptian; they were the sons of Anath.
So here you have this extremely tantalizing individual; he has a Hurrian name, he is called "the son of Anath," which indicates that has some connection to the Canaanite goddess of war, and he is not said to have any spiritual…there is no mention that the Holy Spirit comes upon him, there is no suggestion that he's Jewish, there's just this tantalizing mention of this individual. Now we have one inscription from the third year of Ramses IV, which is dated about 1166 BC and I think those dates are questionable, it could be a little later than that in a revised chronology. But he mentions the [can't understand word, sounds like: Ha pee ruh] which is another term used for these mercenary troops, of the troop of Anath who had 800 men in that particular troop, and that these troops, the Ben-Anath troops under Ramses IV were used by him to set up a defensive posture to throw back the incursions of these sea peoples during his reign.
Now I've given you all this historical background; the point that I'm making is once we get into the history of what's going on at that time, is we know that there was a hardcore first class elite troop of soldiers that the Pharaoh used as his battering ram against the incursions of the Philistine sea peoples and they were called the Sons of Anath. And here we come across this cryptic figure in Judges name "Shamgar, son of Anath," and from the etymology of his name and from the fact that he too is called the "son of Anath," then I think we can conclude that this guy is not a Jew, he's probably not a believer, but he is a mercenary warrior serving under Pharaoh and that God uses him to come in and kick the Philistines out of the south of Judah in order to protect Israel.
Now what are the implications of that? The implication is that there's no one among the Jews that's trusting God, that's following a spiritual life, that God can use in order to protect Israel. There is a major problem here: God is using a Gentile to bless Israel instead of Israel to bless the Gentiles according to the Abrahamic Covenant. It is a reversal, so when the writers of Judges mentions this he is making a very strong statement; it's a slap in the face to the Jews, you have failed so badly, Israel, that in order for God to preserve His covenant, preserve the nation in the land, He's obviously raising up leaders in the north but there's no one in the south that God can call on, there's no leader to stand in the gap in the south, God has to use an unbeliever operating in the Egyptian army to come in and remove the Philistine threat and to protect your left flank. And what the writer is indicating in all of this is a tremendous indictment on the leadership of the nation. The point that he is making is that paganism and pagan thought has so infiltrated the worldview and the culture of Israel that they no longer can produce leaders that can defend the nation. Probably they've become pacifistic.
We see the same kind of thing happening in our nation today, that because of the weakness of our culture that it permeates everyone and even those who go into military service are permeated by these cultural deficiencies and they take that cultural worldview with them when they go into the military and they advance through the ranks and then eventually they end up on the Joints of Staff and they end up serving in the Pentagon, and they had to compromise a number of principles to get there. I have men who I have known since college days, I remember what they were like when they were in college, when we were in ROTC together, and now they are serving in a capacity as 0-6, which is bird colonel in the Pentagon as well as one who is a commander of tank battalion at Fort Hood and as I look at these men I realize that they have had to compromise some of their personal ideals in order to stay in the military and reach the level of rank that they now hold.
And what we're going to see when we get into Judges 4 is that one of the consequences of paganism is that there is a role reversal, there is a reversal of role concept for men and women in the nation. Look at Judges 4:6, after God gives Deborah instructions on how to take out Jabin who's the king of Hazor, she sends and summons "Barak, the son of Abinoam, out of Kadesh-naphtali, and said the LORD God of Israel has commanded, Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and the sons of Zebulun?  And I will draw out to you Sisera," now the person who is speaking is God and God is saying to Barak, you're going to have victory, and Barak says wait a minute, I won't go unless you go with me Deborah. See, the writer is really drawing out the fact that what happens in paganism is you have a role reversal in the sexes; men are failing to function as leaders and women are stepping into the gap and becoming de-feminized because they have to serve as military leaders. We see this same kind of thing going on in our culture where we have women going into the military, there's more and more pressure to put women in combat roles, combat positions, and God forbid, even in the sub service.
But that's the same thing that's happening today because what happens is a pagan cultural pressure looks at the role distinctions as interchangeable, that they really aren't hard and fast and women can serve in men's positions and women can serve in men's positions but the Biblical view is God created a male soul and a female soul and they operate and function differently and there are certain roles that are designed for men and certain roles that are designed for women and you don't mix them. Once you start mixing them you end up collapsing a culture internally. I read to you a few weeks ago a recent book review from the New York Times book review where there is a book that has come out and arguing that one of the major mistakes that the feminist movement has made is trying to find some sort of basis in history for a matriarchy and matriarchies have never survived, they have never produced any kind of successful culture and the only place in history that you find matriarchies is in extreme degenerate pagan cultures.
The cultures that advance and produce anything in history have never been matriarchal, of course, that's not politically correct because oh my, the reasons we have so many problems today is because of those awful men and their historical patriarchy. That is just pure pagan hogwash and it shows that in our culture we have become so anesthetized to the realities of what the Word of God teaches that we no longer think that these are real issues, and what's hard is you get out in any kind of work place situation and you're forced, by government decree, to compromise Biblical positions and to operate as if these pagan concepts are in fact true. And it's an extremely difficult position to be in. I'll develop this in a lot more detail as we go forward but what we have to do before we do that is begin with some understanding of the doctrine of leadership as presented in the Scripture.
One of the things that has happened today, not only in the realm of role reversal and confusion between men and women but you see that what happens when you destroy true Biblical leadership is that instead of leaders being dependent upon the Word of God for their values, for their thinking, for not only their goals and objectives but also their methodology. Remember, a right thing done in a wrong way is wrong and just as wrong as a wrong thing done in a wrong way. Only a right thing done in a right way is right, but what happens in a paganized culture is you start operating on pragmatism and very subtly you begin to live on the basis of end justifies the means mentality, and you see this over and over today in Christianity. You get churches where the pastors are so consumed with numbers that any kind of methodology works as long as you bring in people and the consequences are always a compromise of the truth.
In fact, one of the most successful of these strategies was carried out by a pastor in a suburb of Chicago, starting in the late 70s and his whole approach was to reach what he calls unchurched, unchurched Mary and unchurched Harry. That's become popular terminology today and so what he would do is he would go out and knock on doors, take a survey, ask questions like: are you going to church anywhere now, and if they were he sort of by-passed them or said great, I don't want to steal you from somebody just keep going to church, it didn't matter whether it was a heretical or apostate church or not, which shows right away he's compromised certain values. Then if they weren't going to church he would say well, why aren't you going to church, what makes you uncomfortable in church, why don't you go. Well, I don't know those songs, I don't like to be forced to sing things I don't know. Okay, check that off, we won't sing song people don't know. I don't like the music, it doesn't have the kind of beat I like to listen to, it's not modern rock, it doesn't have a driving guitar beat. Okay, check that off, get rid of the organ, now we're going to have guitars and drums up in front and hard-driving music with so-called worship leaders and instead of emphasizing congregational hymn singing we'll put all the focus on this band up front and if people want to sing along, that's great and if not that's great. Well, you know, I always have to park somewhere out in the toulies and that's not very friendly. Okay, we'll get rid of all the good parking spaces and put visitor signs on them and make everybody who is a regular attendee park five blocks away, which in fact is what they did. As a result of that he developed a church that is now the largest church in America.
I read a doctrinal dissertation that was published by Baker Book House a few years ago that was done, not from a Biblical viewpoint, this was a guy working on a PhD in sociology and wanted to do an analysis of this whole project on a sociological viewpoint, and he did an excellent and very objective critique. He spent half the doctrinal dissertation talking about the methodology, what the Church was like, all the things they did, etc. etc. etc. and then he began a critique and observations and one of the more telling observations was that in his church which had a staff of 300 pastors, can you imagine that, 300 pastors, 15,000-20,000 people going to this church, they've got 300 pastors and you would be surprised how many of those pastors did not own a systematic theology. You take all 300 pastors and not one of them…not one of them owned a systematic theology or a book on doctrine, period. And not one of them had a degree from a Bible college or seminary; they won't be as creative, they're going to be too caught up in the past and not the future, so we don't want anybody who's had their creativity stifled by going to seminary or Bible college. So what happens is they put all of their dependence on human viewpoint methodologies and salesmanship and running the church according to the latest business practices that come out of Harvard Business School or wherever and operating on sociological tools and surveys.
My critique all along has been well, that just sounds like going out and interviewing all the little preschoolers and asking them what they want to do in school and then building your curriculum around that. That's just insane. But it does make everybody very happy and one little story about that church is that the pastor decided at one point…because I think he's a believer and I think he knows the gospel but he doesn't know much more, and he decided to do a little series on sin. Within four weeks the attendance in the church had dropped off by 50% so the elders came to him and said I really think you should quit doing this study, people don't like it. So he did. That just tells you something about where we are today, and you won't find that problem here at Preston City Bible Church; we are going to focus in the Scripture.
But this is what happens when a culture becomes more and more influenced by pagan thought, by relativistic thought and you lose and get divorced from the absolutes of Scripture and refuse to learn to think biblically. It's radical to think biblically and the more the culture is paganized the more radical you're going to appear and the more people are going to look at you like you're some old fossil that holds onto some kind of antiquated medieval concept of life. But that's Biblical; it's because we live in a culture that is in full blown rebellion against the truth of God and the truth of God's Word and the last thing they want to hear is somebody come along and say yeah, there really is an absolute and God does exist. You can talk about anything in a college classroom, you can talk about the goddess of the earth and you can talk about that in all of your ecology classes, the guy and mother earth goddess and all this other stuff, and if you talk about God as a woman you're okay in a sociology class, but if you talk about the Biblical God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Jesus Christ who came to earth as the eternal Son of God, who became man, undiminished deity, took on true humanity and went to the cross to die as a substitute for our sin because man is under eternal condemnation because he's a sinner, oh my, that hurts my self-image so we can't say somebody is a sinner because they just might feel bad about themselves.
If you come in and teach something like that and you're imposing religion on everybody else so you can't do that, so you're out but everybody else can impose their secularism and their pantheism disguised as modern ecology and they can teach that in the classroom and impose that on the students and brainwash your children who come out of a biblically sound church and then go off to a university somewhere and are brainwashed by all of this paganism, they can do that but they can't teach the truth. And that's what happens and we're moving more and more to a real culture war and that is the culture war. It is not what you hear about from people like Bill Bennett who is a full-blown and proud to be a Roman Catholic. Now I respect his position as his position and his right to choose whatever he wants to choose but he is not coming at his morality from a Biblical viewpoint. He's coming at it from a Roman Catholic viewpoint and when he talks about culture wars he's just talking about morality versus immorality where what we're talking about is spirituality based on the truth of the Word of God versus all forms of human viewpoint. And the Scripture says that we are to take captive every thought for Jesus Christ, not just the ones related to salvation, not just the ones related to spirituality but every thought. That means that every category of human intellectual activity, literature, art, politics, government, legal theory, every thought captive for Jesus Christ and that means that we have to have leadership in places to do that, men and women who are willing to stand in the gap and take a stand and risk everything for the truth of God's Word because that's the only thing that really matters.
This is going to get us into the doctrine of leadership and I just want to introduce it this morning.
Point number one; the doctrine of leadership is related to the first divine institution. This is going to be a rather long introductory point and we'll probably just get point 1 in today. The first divine institution relates to human responsibility. In the Garden of Eden God placed Adam and the woman in the Garden and He said you may eat of any tree in the Garden except one, except for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The instant you eat from it you will definitely die, speaking about spiritual death. This is what we call the institution of human responsibility so therefore responsibility is authorized and initiated by God before there is ever…so for some of us who may not like responsibility a whole lot it's not a result of sin, responsibility was in perfect environment.
Responsibility, let's define our terms a little bit. This is very important and as I was preparing this I pulled out a dictionary to start looking up terms. I thought as I did that, that's something that we ought to be doing downstairs, one of the things we're focusing more and more this year is what goes on in our prep school, our training school, Sunday School, and that is that sometimes it would be a good idea to have 2 or 3 dictionaries in every classroom. Find whatever is graded to their level and put 2 or 3 dictionaries in there and when the teachers are teaching and you come to a new word have the kids look it up in a dictionary. Start training them to think in terms of vocabulary and what words mean. Do that at home, when you find a new word don't tell your kid what it means, say go look it up in the dictionary. That's one of the most important skills they can learn so that they can think.
Responsibility, according to Webster's, means that a person holds a specific duty, office or trust, and is answerable and accountable for decisions and actions in relation to that duty, office or trust. Now there are four key words that are part of that definition that we need to focus on and define; they are authority, answerable, accountable and obligation. Not all those are used precisely in that definition, I realize that, but they're all part of that concept. Before we define those terms let's think about what goes on with Adam in the Garden. He holds a specific position; he is the image of God and that means not only in terms of who he is as the immaterial makeup that reflects God, as the shadow image of God, but that who he is determines what he is to do. He is created the way he is because of what he is to do. He is in the image of God so he can serve as the representative of God. An image is a representation, and his function is to represent God to the creation.
So he holds an office, he holds a trust and he is answerable and accountable for that. He is answerable to God. That brings in the idea of authority. When you're answerable to somebody that person is in authority over you. So once again we see the concept of authority is part of perfect environment. We've even studied in the Trinity that there is an authority relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So authority is not something God designed to handle sin and control sin but it's something that is even part of perfect environment before sin entered into creation. So Adam was accountable for his decisions and there were consequences for making the wrong decisions, so that if he behaved in an irresponsible manner then there would be negative consequences.
Let's break it down. Answerable implies that there is someone in authority over the person to whom the responsible party is obligated. Answerable means that there is someone in authority over the person to whom that responsible party, that person, is obligated. Accountable suggests that there is the presence of positive and negative consequences for one's decisions in relation to the duty or trust which is the assigned responsibility. I think it suggests the imminence of that punishment, with irresponsibility there is immediate consequences. Authority implies a chain of command, not a popular concept for many people today. Authority implies a chain of command which does not necessarily negate relationship factors. Now the reason I say that is there are a lot of people that think well, if you have a chain of command, they often think in terms of military and as something that is very harsh, and there's no relationship involved. And yet you see an authority chain in the Trinity and there is the closest most intimate relationship of anything in the Triune Godhead, and yet there is authority and role distinction. But they are so close and so intimate that Jesus says I and the Father are one. So authority does not suggest, as it does to many people, that there is some sort of a breakdown or it makes it too impersonal or it harms relationship, for the closest relationship of any, Jesus to the Father, is also one that is clearly based on an authority relationship. Jesus says I can do nothing unless the Father gives it to Me. So authority implies a chain of command and that concept does not negate relationship factors.
And then the fourth concept is obligation which implies, according to the dictionary it implies the existence of a formal contract promise or the demands of a conscience or custom which binds someone legally or morally to a certain course of action. Now that's an interesting definition. Obligation implies the existence of a formal contract, promise, or the demands of conscience of custom which binds someone legally or morally to a certain course or action. Adam had a contract with God in the Edenic Covenant. Some people get the idea that obligation is somehow contradictory to grace. But grace means that when you fail the obligation God's still in the relationship. There were obligations in the Abrahamic Covenant, it was an unconditional unilateral covenant between God and Abraham and God said I'm going to do this despite what you do but Abraham, you still are obligated to leave Ur of the Chaldeas, to leave Haran, to leave Lot to live in the land. Now My blessings are not conditioned upon your fulfilling your obligations but that doesn't mean you don't have obligations. And too often people have taken grace to mean licentiousness, that I don't have any responsibilities or obligations, I can just do whatever I want to. Grace is not a license to sin but grace is the umbrella under which we know that despite our sinfulness God is not going to leave the relationship. Our relationship with God is not based on our works, on anything positive in us; it's totally and exclusively based on who and what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.
We'll come back and review that first point but before we can really understand some of the dynamics that are going on in Judges 4 and 5 under the author's theme of the degeneracy of the leadership in Israel we have to understand what the Biblical doctrine of leadership is all about. So that will probably be our subject for a couple of weeks. Everyone here is involved in some leadership relationship; parents, husbands, at work, in the military, just about everyone here has a role to play in leadership.
31 After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel.