The questions I first had regarding the unusual weapons included…Who was attacking and who was defending? Where and when did the events take place over the 350 year stretch of Judges? Was the fighting from a short, mid, or long distance? Would the defender know he’d soon be attacked? Did the situation force them to be creative or had they brought the weapons they wanted?
After reading the 5 stories I don’t see these as thematic. In Jael’s, Gideon’s, and Woman with a Millstone stories, the weapons appear to be exactly what they needed given the circumstances. The other two stories are that of Shamgar, the first “minor judge”. That seems a little vague. The last of the 5 is Samson’s; he could use any or no weapon.
-Shamgar uses an Oxgoad (Judges 3:31)
Shamgar slew 600 with an oxgoad, an 8’ long farm tool used for spurring oxen. He was the first of the “minor judges”, so this is an introduction.
-Jael uses a Mallet and Tent Peg (4:21)
Jael kills the deep-in-sleep Sisera in her tent with a mallet and tent peg. Others were in pursuit of Sisera and she just helped them. She had to kill Sisera quickly and powerfully at night.
-Gideon’s army uses Jars, Torches, and Trumpets (7:20)
Gideon’s 300 soldiers had to attack the uncountable Midianites. Gideon had to design a surprise attack, so they loudly blew their trumpets and broke their jars. Taking their torches in their left hands and trumpets in their rights, they cried, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” From the mountain top down they boldly shouted and attacked, and the Midianites saw the torches and enemies all around them. They ran in sudden terror.
-Woman uses a Millstone (9:53)
Abimelech was fighting to get into the city’s tower, but the woman cast a millstone down onto his head. She really couldn’t have used many other weapons, especially from the tower.
-Samson uses a Donkey’s Jawbone (15:15)
I think this stresses the point that a donkey’s jawbone wasn’t much, but Samson was the one with immense strength. He needed very little and even killed 1,000 with this.