Shamgar smiled as he lifted the heavy yoke. It was still early, the cock had yet to crow, but Shamgar knew that his field would require a day of plowing, with his younger siblings working behind him to plant the wheat. It was just the nature of the season. He ran his callused hands across the smooth wood, checking for any weaknesses or deformities had developed during the winter. He then nodded in the dim candlelight; all was well and as it should be. The wood hadn’t warped during the winter months.
“Shalom,” he murmured, carrying the lantern deeper into the stable. He smiled as his family’s oxen bellowed in return. Shamgar grinned and placed the lantern on a stone outcropping as he began to examine the oxen. He didn’t want to work them if they were injured already—that only lead to more injuries.
There was a sound of straw rustling and giggling behind Shamgar and he turned and grinned when he saw his youngest two siblings.
“Shalom,” Rachael, his youngest sister lisped through her missing front teeth. Shamgar had to smile as he knelt down next to her. Her dark brown hair was tied back in a loose braid, and then tucked underneath the tattered shawl. Something told him that the shawl would be discarded before the end of the day.
Reaching down, Shamgar quickly gave the braid a gentle tug. “Shalom, little one. Did you sleep well?”
“Good, I’m glad, now remember that if the Philistines show up,” He began, taking a deep breath before pressing on; it was a ritual that he had to go through.
“We need to run for home. You tell us this every year.” Mary continued for him, grinning impishly.
Shamgar grinned in spite of his younger sister’s outspoken nature. The day continued with the lighthearted teasing between the family members. Rachael and Mary alternated between teasing each other and singing praises of the goodness of YHWH as they planted the seeds behind Shamgar.
Something was oddly comforting about this entire situation—mostly because it is familiar. Familiarity was what his family needed this season—especially after the death of his father. With practiced commands and movements, the oxen and Shamgar worked together, easily breaking up the winter hardened soil.
The sun glinting off a metal object caught Shamgar’s attention. He frowned. It’s the wrong season for the scythes—that could mean only one thing...
The Philistines... There was a war cry and Shamgar’s eyes darted over to his sisters. They stood frozen where they stood.
“Rachael...Mary…take the oxen and go home...”
“What about you?”
“I’ll meet you there...now hurry...run!”
Somehow, that spurred his sisters into action. Shamgar paused for a long moment and then hefted the heavy wooden prod over his shoulder. He didn’t have a sword or a shield, but he had his goad. This would have to work—besides, with the Almighty with him—he couldn’t fail.
Shamgar began to run towards the invaders, his oxgoad held over his head. As he drew closer, he began to swing, knocking down row upon row of Philistines at a time. Then, all at once, the attack stopped and Shamgar found himself standing in the midst of groaning men. He frowned in confusion. How did I do this?
“Mercy...call off your army!” A Philistine begged.
Confused, Shamgar looked around, noting that he was the only one on the field. He lowered his oxgoad and watched as the survivors scrambled to their feet and fled. He blinked again; there was no way that his family was going to believe this. Who would believe that a simple farmer struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad?
Judges 3:31—Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.
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