Food for the Flock
Food planned for the flock. One of the principal duties at all seasons of the year is for the shepherd to plan food for his flock. In the springtime there is an abundance of green pasture, and usually the sheep are allowed to graze near to the village where the shepherd's home is located. After the grain is reaped, and the poor have had an opportunity to glean what is left for them, then the shepherd brings in his flock, and the sheep feed on certain fresh growths, or dried blades, or an occasional ear of grain that the reapers may have left, or was overlooked by the gleaners. When this source of food is exhausted then the pasture is sought in other places. The wilderness of Judea which is located along the western side of the Jordan Valley is carpeted in the spring with a certain amount of grass and this turns into standing hay as the hot weather comes, and this becomes food for the sheep during part of the summer.12
Scripture often refers to shepherds looking for pasture for their flocks. "And they went to the entrance of Gedor, even unto the east side of the valley, to seek pasture for their flocks" (I Chronicles 4:39). The Psalmist thanks GOD for the pasturage which the LORD as Shepherd provides for His people: "So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever" (Psalm 79:13).
In the late autumn or winter months, there are times when the shepherd can find no pasturage that is available for his flock, and then he must become responsible for feeding the animals himself. If the flock is small there may be times when it is stabled within the peasant house, and the family lives on a sort of mezzanine floor above it.
At such seasons of the year the shepherd must provide the food. This is what Isaiah meant when he said: "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd" (Isaiah 40:11). In some sections of Syria, flocks are taken at this season to places in the mountain country, where the shepherd busies himself with the bushy trees, cutting down branches that have green leaves or tender twigs, that the sheep and goats can eat.
Micah was probably speaking of this custom of providing food for the sheep, when he said: "Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage" (Micah 7:14).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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