19 October 2009

Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad.

The entire story takes place in just one verse.
Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. "And he also delivered Israel."
Shamgar … slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel. Judges 3.31
The inspired storyteller obviously viewed this mass killing to be a glorious, noble, and wonderful thing. To him it is every bit as cool as Ehud's message from God (43).

But I suspect that God not only approved of this killing, he assisted with it. How else could one man kill 600 Philistines with a pointy stick?

God's next killing: Barak and God massacre the Canaanites


Brucker said...

Heck, I'll give you permission for that one, if permission from a representative fundie is what you need. With very few exceptions, killings performed by "judges" are pretty well approved as God-appointed acts of war, which is as good as any other killing-by-proxy on God's part.

Steve Wells said...

Thanks, Brucker.

So you think God not only approved of Shamgar's killing, he inspired it and maybe even told him to do it? That seems most likely to me, too, from the context in Judges. I suspect that most evangelicals would probably agree with that. I'm not sure about skeptics, though.

twillight said...

I don't even see a direct connection between the first and the second half of the sentence, namely the 600 killing (see how similar this guy to Samson's act? Plagarism?) and the freeing of Israel. We do not know how this S. "freed" Israel at all.

The Lord of Hosts doesn't mentioned too in that line.

The only thing you could blame the Lord here because he chooses his judges, but that doesn't necessarily indicates they'll have to do anything violent. (Well, my mind is just too romantic I think when it is capable to imagine a diplomatic Messiah of Elohim...)

Conclusion: My vote is, not to involve the killing.

Matthew Blanchette said...

An ox goad? Damn, that must've been the strongest damned ox goad in the Iron Age; I wonder why we haven't found any of this miracle technology on archeological digs...

busterggi said...

Sure, give him the credit.

Its not as if an ox goad is a deadly weapon unless it has some mojo behind it.

Unknown said...


We won't know, as we don't have anything else to go by. Is there another table which you can place this in.

E.G. Your main table contains the millions of death's God specifically had his finger in the pie with

The second table is all the maybe's.

You end up with a result of "murdered xx million people" and "conspired the additional murder of xx hundred thousand people"?

Steve Wells said...

Yeah, I thought there would be be some disagreement on this.

Maybe we should wait and let the Conservative Bible clarify it for us. They'll probably say something like, "Shamgar, with God's approval and assistance, killed 600 Sodomite, Liberal, Elitist, Intellectual Philistines with Louisville Slugger baseball bat."

I like Clint suggestion, though. Create another list of God-approved killings, except that then I'd have to make and maintain another long list of killings!

Unknown said...

haha yeah I know, it's a bugga. Maybe you can just put a note down somewhere of the particular biblical reference, so you can come back to it at a later date as a separate task.

The only reason I say this, is that I can imagine religious sympathisers claiming your results fallacious due to something small like this. Which in reality, it would have no significant impact on the total number of deaths he's caused. (...Religious mind's aren't rational though).

Don't give them the chance :-) Stick to the definite's and then you can whip up the 'God contributed deaths'.

Keep up the good work though - love the read!


Steve Wells said...

OK, for now, at least, I'll just tag these kind of killings as "God-approved" and deal with a list later.

Anonymous said...

From the context I'd say yeah it's thanks to god. But as you say, it's not explicit. I like the idea of a god approved list.

Or you can split the difference and give him 300 of the deaths!

Brucker said...

Several people have made a good point that I considered mentioning: that an "oxgoad" is a rather unusual weapon. Of courswe, that's why it's mentioned, because, as busterggi said, "Its not as if an ox goad is a deadly weapon unless it has some mojo behind it." That's what makes this story so similar to Samson's story (which came after, twillight), it's not just a mass murder, but one in which a seemingly insufficient weapon was used, and thus it's a safe assumption something supernatural was at play. If toothbrushes had existed in ancient Israel, you just know some guy in the book of Judges would have killed a few thousand Philistines with one.

The issue of God's direct vs. sanctioned killings is an interesting one, and one I intend to address if I ever manage to finish slogging through your list as I said I would. (I'm always impressed that you put in the effort to actually find 1,000+ acts of violence/cruelty; I hardly have the stamina to read them!) A lot of the killings listed were not actually by God, although many of those could be said to be proxy killings. So does God get an asterisk on his record?

Tony said...

I think that if you include this you'll have to say that god's responsible for all deaths that have ever happened. Christians might say this anyway.

Steve Wells said...


Yeah, Christians like to say that. God is responsible for every death. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away and all that. It is very nice sounding and familiar bullshit.

But Shamgar's killing is right on the edge. The Bible doesn't explicitly say that God was involved, but the context implies that he was. Just before this killing, in the same chapter, God delivered the Moabites to Ehud, and Ehud delivered God's message to Eglon. Shamgar was the judge that followed Ehud, "and he also delivered Israel." So I think we have enough evidence here to put God on trial and convict him.

twillight said...

I turn to your side - give 'im the credit!

Steve Wells said...

Thanks, twillight, but I think I'll leave Shamgar off the list for now. If the verses had of said, "And the spirit of the Lord came upon Shamgar, and he killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad", I'd add it for sure. But since it doesn't explicitly give God credit, I guess I won't either.

I do plan, though, to create a list that includes every killing that God performed, commanded, inspired, or sanctioned, and when I do, I'll include Shamgar's mighty massacre.

Rex - Gympie Massage & Rehabilitation said...

People, I'm a lover of Christ. Therefore, U'll say I'm biased. Nonetheless, consider this.
Who was being killed by man with His permission?
Hey, they weren't good guys, and at that time they were not the 'chosen people', and by killing the enemy, God showed His protection and faithfulness to the Israelites.
Don't u think?

Anonymous said...

People should read all the chapter and not be so quick to judge God, Verse 12 tells us "And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD"
....God does not allow His "chosen people" to worship other gods or live in open sin, so he,(like any good father, discipline) his children.
The Moabites were a violent and wicked people and when Israel cried unto him he delivered them through Shmgar, its that simple,
Remember, in view of eternity life is but a vapor and a mans life is only a flicker, God allows his followers today to be "lambs at the slaughter" so dont get too hung up on God sanctioning killings,
There is more important stuff to think upon like why God allowed Jesus to be beaten and murdered read Romans 8:32 "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all"
Why!, because Jesus death on the cross was the price God required to pay for my sin and yours.
Death is a part of life, but whether you live 20 years or 120 years will not be important 500 years from now, its were you will spend eternity that is important.

Thin Places said...

You're dwindling alright.

No, the point--whether you want to understand it or not--is that the Creator never has killing as the order of the day. In fact, there are several Hebrew laws that lay out severe penalties for killing another man. The killing of the enemy comes in with God's permissive will, not God's order of things. In other words, we all suck and like to shed blood, He knows it, the promise has been made to Abraham that the Messiah will come through him, God never breaks promises, and so the killing goes on not as God planned, but as man saw fit. See, it's all about Jesus the Messiah, it always has been about Jesus, and, whether you like it or not, it always will be about Jesus. So, my recommendation? Read the Bible in context before you spout your foolish ideas on a dwindling blog.