by peacefulpete 4 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • peacefulpete

    Many moons ago I posted a thread about the need for superheroes. Today they dominate the movie industry but at they have always been top sellers. In that earlier thread I mentioned my love of the Hulk as a boy, he dealt with seemingly unstoppable foes with sheer determination and superhuman strength, kinda like Shamgar of the book of Judges.

    Wiki has a good overview of the character and issues with his story.

    The Judges formulaic narrative refers to a succession of heroes (and heroine) who lead or save Israel. Within the narrative in chapt 3 verse 31 inserts a short reference to Shamgar. Notice how it interrupts the narrative.

    12 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and because they did this evil the Lord gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms.[c] 14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years. 15 Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a cubit[d] long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way those who had carried it. 19 But on reaching the stone images near Gilgal he himself went back to Eglon and said, “Your Majesty, I have a secret message for you.” The king said to his attendants, “Leave us!” And they all left.
    20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace[e] and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch[f]; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
    24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace.” 25 They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.
    26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the stone images and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.
    28 “Follow me,” he ordered, “for the Lord has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and took possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab; they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not one escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.
    31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.
    4 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. 2 So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help. 4 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading[a] Israel at that time.

    Centuries of readers have noticed the issue. The narrative progresses from Ehud to Deborah. Shamgar is awkwardly inserted into the flow without introduction or story (other than he with his superhuman strength killed 600 Philistine warriors with a pointed stick.) As wiki mentions the one sentence interrupter actually appears in some manuscripts after the Samson story. Some think this may be the original placement but the issues remain about his lack of introduction and the extreme brevity. It is felt more likely the placement after Samson was done by editors trying to fix the broken narrative of Ehud. If so why would someone have placed the sensational uber-brief story were it is at vs 31?

    The "Song of Deborah" in chapter 5 may have the answer. Recall above that chapter 4 introduced Deborah and the chapter continues with her exploits with Barak. Then Chapter 5 breaks into poetry, one of the oldest if not the oldest Hebrew poem. The complier/author of the book of Judges incorporated this ancient poem into his narrative at this point. In that poem at verse 6:

    6 “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
    in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned;
    travelers took to winding paths.
    7 Villagers in Israel would not fight;
    they held back until I, Deborah, arose,
    until I arose, a mother in Israel.

    Here a Shamgar son of Anath is mentioned as preceding the rise of Deborah. He is not described as any hero, in fact the opposite, the people were in fear for their lives in his day according to the poem. However the simple mention of his name in the poem may have inspired the very brief line about him in chapt 3. Simply put, an editor inserted the Shamgar reference where it is for consistency with the poem.

    BUT it gets more interesting! Scholars have long noticed another character, one named Shammah who also kills a bunch of Philistines at 2 Sam 23:

    11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

    Many scholars identify this character as the same as the one in Judges. His legend has gotten displaced and lumped in with one of David's 3 super soldiers. To complicate the issue more, in verse 25 the same guy is called: 25 Shammah the Harodite, not Hararite as verse 11. Clearly we have a patchwork of legends and material.

    Even more fun is the conclusion of the Jewish Encyclopedia:

    In the song of Deborah (Judges v. 6) Shamgar is connected with the hour of Israel's deepest humiliation. He was, therefore, probably not a judge, but a foreign oppressor of Israel. From the form of his name it has been conjectured that he may have been a Hittite (comp. "Sangar," Hittite king of Carchemish in the ninth century B.C.); Moore, in "Jour. American Oriental Society" (xix. 2, p. 160), shows reason for believing that he was the father of Sisera.

    Judges iii. 31, in which Shamgar is first mentioned, is out of place, the whole verse being a late addition to the chapter. Ch. iv., the story of Jabin and Sisera, connects directly with the story of Ehud. Moreover, the introduction of the Philistines is suspicious, for they do not appear in Hebrew history till shortly before the time of Saul. Moore has noted also that in a group of Greek manuscripts, and likewise in the Hexaplar Syriac, Armenian, and Slavonic versions, this verse is inserted after the account of the exploits of Samson, immediately following Judges xvi. 31, in a form which proves that it was once a part of the Hebrew text. It was observed long ago that this exploit resembled the exploits of David's heroes (II Sam. xxi. 15-22, xxiii. 8 et seq.), especially those of Shammah, son of Agee (ib. xxiii. 11 et seq.). Probably an account similar to this last was first attached to Judges xvi. 31; then the name was in course of time corrupted to "Shamgar," through the influence of ch. v. 6; and, lastly, the statement was transferred to ch. iii. 31, so that it might occur before the reference in ch. v.

    If correct this Samgar superhero might have really been Samgar the supervillain.

  • peacefulpete

    I had lots of issues with the quote and edit functions, sorry.

  • peacefulpete

    Boy I hoped this would stimulate some discussion. Anyway, another kinda glaring issue is that Shamgar is said to have killed 600 Philistines. However this is inconsistent with the story of Samson which was to have taken place about 200 years later and said to begin the animosity between the Philistines and Israelites. Make no mistake I'm not suggesting historicity to the Samson story only a storyline anomaly. Judges 14:

    14 Shimshon went down to Timnah, and in Timnah he saw a woman who was one of the P’lishtim. 2 He came up and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the P’lishtim. Now get her for me to be my wife.” 3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there any woman from the daughters of your kinsmen or among all my people? Must you go to the uncircumcised P’lishtim to find a wife?” Shimshon said to his father, “Get her for me. I like her.” 4 His father and mother didn’t know that all this came from Adonai, who was seeking grounds for a quarrel with the P’lishtim. (At that time the P’lishtim were ruling Isra’el.)

    I chose a Jewish literal translation as most English translation use "seeking an occasion" which as an idiom, softens the meaning. The writer here says Yahweh was looking for a justification for a mass slaughter of the people who up till then had actually been allies in displacing the indigenous Cananites. (another time).

  • blondie


    This illustrates how jws and other people accept what is said in the bible. Why, because the bible is inspired of god. And how do we know that the bible is inspired of god. Because the bible says it is.

    I appreciate the research you do to show how unreliable historical records can be depending on who is writing it.

    History written by the people who were writing about their own history

    History written by people who were enemies of those people

    History written long after those events when no one is left alive who lived or witnessed them or to confirm them.

    Historians trying to find any harmony between the two

    History has be rewritten over time as well.

    It would hard to be a historian living under the rule of the king they are writing about.

    A related point, Galileo find out why writing about the scientific things he discovered about the solar system, was not well received the the Catholic Church who had their own unscientific ideas. As time passed and the hold the Catholic Church had on science waned and other people confirmed his findings, things started moving forward with more accuracy. But history cannot be proved in the way science can.

    Thus, those examining historical records, have to read a great deal of information from many sources and determine what is reliable based on other historical records.

    PS People today are woefully ignorant of current history that they lived through let alone the history from 100 years ago or thousands of years ago.

  • peacefulpete

    I located the G.F. Moore article referenced on the Jewish Encyclopedia page. He makes the provacative suggestion that the original Shamgar was Sisera's father. It's not as convoluted as it might seem.

    In the song of Deborah, Shamgar (Hittite name) son of Anath (local goddess worshiped by the Hittites) marks the time of complete disruption of travel and trade among the Canaanite city states preceding the uprising/liberation under Deborah and Barak. ("time of Jael" long regarded as late gloss) So, if we understand Shamgar to be a recent past Hittite aggressor, he was likely the leader of a military force and occupier. The song of Deborah then continues by naming Sisera (also Hittite name/title)as the present aggressor subsequently killed by the Kenite(?) woman Jael. A provocative line in the song of Debora follows,

    "Through the window peered Sisera's mother; behind the lattice she cried out, 'Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?'

    Notice the mother of Sisera calls out in the poem, wondering the reason for his delay. The father is not mentioned but given the immediately preceding lines in the poem were about the tumoil at the time of Shamgar the Hitite it was suggested by George Moore in 1898 that Shamgar was the father and predecessor of Sisera in a short lived Hittite dynasty in Caanan.

    The placement of the verse mentioning Shamgar who kills 600 Philistines after the Samson stories in some Greek versions may then have been the original. It makes more sense internally there because of the mention of Philistines as enemies. The actual name of the hero may have been similar to Shamgar (like the killer of Philistines mentioned before as a mighty man of David) and the name got crossed with the Shamgar in the Song of Deb.that follows it.

    Anyway its interesting to see the insightful work of 19th century scholars. Too bad it's largely forgotten today.

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