Sheep

Genesis 4:2. Abounded in the pastures of Israel. Shepherds go before them and call them by name to follow (John 10:4; Psalm 77:20; Psalm 80:1). The ordinary sheep are the broad tailed sheep, and the Ovis aries, like our own except that the tail is longer and thicker, and the ears larger; called bedoween. Centuries B.C. Aristotle mentions Syrian sheep with tails a cubit wide. The fat tail is referred to in Leviticus 3:9; Leviticus 7:3. The Syrian cooks use the mass of fat instead of the rancid Arab butter.

The sheep symbolizes meekness, patience, gentleness, and submission (Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32). (See LAMB.) Tsown means sheep"; ayil, the full-grown "ram," used for the male of other ruminants also; rachel, the adult "ewe"; kebes (masculine), kibsah (feminine), the half grown lamb; seh, "sheep" or paschal "lamb"; char, "young ram"; taleh, "sucking lamb"; 'atod (Genesis 31 "ram") means "he-goat"; imrin, "lambs for sacrifice."

The sheep never existed in a wild state, but was created expressly for man, and so was selected from the first for sacrifice. The image is frequent in Scripture: Jehovah the Shepherd, His people the flock (Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 23:1-2; Ezekiel 34). Sinners are the straying sheep whom the Good Shepherd came to save (Psalm 119:176; Isaiah 53:6; Jeremiah 50:6; Luke 15:4-6; John 10:8; John 10:11). False teachers are thieves and wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15). None can pluck His sheep from His hand and the Father's (John 10:27-29).