1. Biblical Account:
One of the judges, son of Anath (`anath), in whose days, which preceded the time of Deborah (Judges 5:6,7) and followed those of Ehud, Israel's subjugation was so complete that "the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways." The government had become thoroughly disorganized, and apparently, as in the days of Deborah, the people were entirely unprepared for war. Shamgar's improvised weapon with which he helped to "save Israel" is spoken of as an oxgoad. With this he smote of the Philistines 600 men. This is the first mention of the Philistines as troublesome neighbors of the Israelites (Judges 3:31). According to a tradition represented in Josephus (Ant., V, iv, 3), Shamgar died in the year he became judge.
2. Critical Hypotheses:
Several writers have challenged the Biblical account on the following grounds:
that in Judges 5 no mention is made of any deliverance; that the name "Shamgar" resembles the name of a Hittite king and the name "Anath" that of a Syrian goddess; that the deed recorded in Judges 3:31 is analogous to that of Samson (Judges 15:15), and that of Shammah, son of Agee (2 Samuel 23:11); and lastly, that in a group of Greek manuscripts and other versions this verse is inserted after the account of Samson's exploits. None of these is necessarily inconsistent with the traditional account. Neverthelesss, they have been used as a basis not only for overthrowing the tradition, but also for constructive theories such as that which makes Shamgar a foreign oppressor and not a judge, and even the father of Sisera. There is, of course, no limit to which this kind of interesting speculation cannot lead.
(For a complete account of these views see Moore, "Judges," in ICC, 1895, 104, and same author in Journal of the American Oriental Society, XIX, 2, 159-60.)
Ella Davis Isaacs