GOAD (gōd, Heb. dōrevān, malmādh, Gr. kentron). An eight-foot (two and one-half m.) wooden pole, having at one end a spade for removing mud from the plow and at the other a sharp point for prodding oxen. It was a formidable weapon in the hands of Shamgar (Judg.3.31). For oxen to “kick against the goads” (cf. Acts.26.14) pictures useless resistance to a greater power.

In a metaphorical sense, the words of the wise (Eccl 12:11) are compared to goads as they encourage and rebuke. The only NT reference to goads concerns Christ’s rebuke to Paul on the Damascus road for kicking against the goads, the divine leading (Acts 26:14). See Prick.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The goad used by the Syrian farmer is usually a straight branch of oak or other strong wood from which the bark has been stripped, and which has at one end a pointed spike and at the other a flat chisel-shaped iron. The pointed end is to prod the oxen while plowing. The flattened iron at the other end is to scrape off the earth which clogs the plowshare. The ancient goad was probably similar to this instrument. It could do villainous work in the hands of an experienced fighter (Jud 3:31). If 1Sa 13:21 is correctly translated, the goads were kept sharpened by files.

Figurative: "The words of the wise are as goads" (Ec 12:11). The only reference to goads in the New Testament is the familiar passage, "It is hard for thee to kick against the goad" (Ac 26:14). It was as useless for Saul to keep on in the wrong way as for a fractious ox to attempt to leave the furrow. He would surely be brought back with a prick of the goad.

James A. Patch