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shepherd Summary and Overview

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shepherd in Easton's Bible Dictionary

a word naturally of frequent occurence in Scripture. Sometimes the word "pastor" is used instead (Jer. 2:8; 3:15; 10:21; 12:10; 17:16). This word is used figuratively to represent the relation of rulers to their subjects and of God to his people (Ps. 23:1; 80:1; Isa. 40:11; 44:28; Jer. 25:34, 35; Nahum 3:18; John 10:11, 14; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:4). The duties of a shepherd in an unenclosed country like Israel were very onerous. "In early morning he led forth the flock from the fold, marching at its head to the spot where they were to be pastured. Here he watched them all day, taking care that none of the sheep strayed, and if any for a time eluded his watch and wandered away from the rest, seeking diligently till he found and brought it back. In those lands sheep require to be supplied regularly with water, and the shepherd for this purpose has to guide them either to some running stream or to wells dug in the wilderness and furnished with troughs. At night he brought the flock home to the fold, counting them as they passed under the rod at the door to assure himself that none were missing. Nor did his labors always end with sunset. Often he had to guard the fold through the dark hours from the attack of wild beasts, or the wily attempts of the prowling thief (see 1 Sam. 17:34).", Deane's David.

shepherd in Smith's Bible Dictionary

In a nomadic state of society every man, from the sheikh down to the slave, is more or less a shepherd. The progenitors of the Jews in the patriarchal age were nomads, and their history is rich in scenes of pastoral life. The occupation of tending the flocks was undertaken,not only by the sons of wealthy chiefs, #Ge 30:29| ff.; Gene 37:12 ff., but even by their daughters. #Ge 29:6,8; Ex 2:10| The Egyptian captivity did march to implant a love of settled abode, and consequently we find the tribes which still retained a taste for shepherd life selecting their own quarters apart from their brethren in the transjordanic district. #Nu 32:1| ff. Thenceforward in Israel proper the shepherd held a subordinate position. The office of the eastern shepherd, as described in the Bible, was attended with much hardship, and even danger. He was exposed to the extremes of heat and cold, #Ge 31:40| his food frequently consisted of the precarious supplies afforded by nature, such as the fruit of the "sycamore" or Egyptian fig, #Am 7:14| the "husks" of the carob tree, #Lu 15:16| and perchance the locusts and wild honey which supported the Baptist, #Mt 3:4| he had to encounter the attacks of wild beasts, occasionally of the larger species, such as lions, nerves, panthers and bears, #1Sa 17:34; Isa 31:4 Jer 5:6 Am 5:12| nor was he free from the risk of robbers or predators hordes. #Ge 31:39| To meet these various foes the shepherd's equipment consisted of the following articles: a mantle, made probably of sheep skin with the fleece on, which he turned inside out in cold weather, as implied in the comparison in #Jer 43:12| (cf. Juv. xiv. 187.); a scrip or wallet, containing a small amount of food #1Sa 17:40| a sling, which is still the favorite weapon of the Bedouin shepherd, #1Sa 17:40| and lastly, a which served the double purpose of a weapon against foes and a crook for the management of the flock. #1Sa 17:40; Ps 23:4; Zec 11:7| If the shepherd was at a distance from his home, he was provided with a light tent, #So 1:8; Jer 35:7| the removal of which was easily effected. #Isa 38:12| In certain localities, moreover, towers were erected for the double purpose of spying an enemy at a distance and of protecting the flock; such towers were erected by Uzziah and Jotham, #2Ch 26:10; 27:4| while their existence in earlier times is testified by the name Migdal-edar #Ge 35:21| Authorized Version "a tower of Edar;" #Mic 4:8| Authorized Version "tower of the flock." The routine of the shepherd's duties appears to have been as follows: In the morning he led forth his flock from the fold #Joh 10:4| which he did by going before them and calling to them, as is still usual in the East; arrived at the pasturage he watched the flock with the assistance of dogs, #Job 30:1| and should any sheep stray, he had to search for it until he found it, #Eze 34:12; Lu 15:4| he supplied them with water, either at a running stream or at troughs attached to wells, #Ge 29:7; 30:38; Ex 2:16; Ps 23:2| at evening he brought them back to the fold, and reckoned them to see that none were missing, by passing them "under the rod" as they entered the door of the enclosure #Le 27:32; Eze 20:37| checking each sheep, as it passed, by a motion of the hand, #Jer 33:13| and, finally, he watched the entrance of the fold throughout the night, acting as porter. #Joh 10:3| [See Sheepfold, under SHEEP] The shepherd's office thus required great watchfulness, particularly by night. #Lu 2:8| cf. Nahu 3:18 It also required tenderness toward the young and feeble, #Isa 40:11| particularly in driving them to and from the pasturage. #Ge 33:13| In large establishments there are various grades of shepherds, the highest being styled "rulers," #Ge 47:6| or "chief shepherds," #1Pe 5:4| in a royal household the title of abbir "mighty," was bestowed on the person who held the post. #1Sa 21:7| [SHEEP]

shepherd in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

SHEP'HERD (pastor). John 10:11. See Sheep.

shepherd in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

(See SHEEP.) The nomadic state is one of the earliest stages of society, and was regarded as honourable even to a chief (Genesis 4:2; Genesis 4:20; Genesis 30:29 ff; Genesis 37); chiefs' daughters did not disdain to tend flocks (Genesis 29:6, etc.; Exodus 2:19). The long stay in Egypt elevated Israel from the nomadic to a settled life. The two and a half nomadic tribes received their portion in the outlying regions beyond Jordan (Numbers 32). As agriculture increased pasturage decreased, and was limited to particular spots, the border of the wilderness of Judah, Carmel (1 Samuel 25:2), Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:11; Luke 2:8), Tekoa (Amos 1:1), and Gedor (1 Chronicles 4:39). Hence the "shepherd's tent" came to symbolize desolation (Ezekiel 25:4; Zephaniah 2:6). The shepherd's occupation was now no longer dignified (Psalm 78:70; 2 Samuel 7:8; Amos 7:14). The shepherd's office represents Jehovah's tender care of His people (Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:11; Isaiah 49:9-10; Jeremiah 23:3-4; Ezekiel 34:11-12; Ezekiel 34:23). Allusions occur to the exposure to heat and cold (Genesis 31:40), the precarious food (Amos 7:14), the husks of the carob (Luke 15:16), the attacks of beasts (1 Samuel 17:34; Isaiah 31:4; Amos 3:12), robbers (Genesis 31:39). The shepherd had a mantle of sheepskin with the fleece on (Jeremiah 43:12), a wallet for food (1 Samuel 17:40), a sling such as the Bedouin still carries, a staff to ward off foes and to guide the flock with its crook (Psalm 23:4; Zechariah 11:7; so Jehovah "lifts up His staff against" His people's foes, Isaiah 10:1-24; His word is at once our prop of support and our defense against Satan). The shepherd, when far from home, had his light tent (Song of Solomon 1:8), easily taken down and shifted (Isaiah 38:12). Towers were sometimes erected to spy a foe afar off, and to guard the flock (2 Chronicles 26:10; 2 Chronicles 27:4, compare "tower of Edar," Genesis 35:21; Micah 4:8). frontEDAR.) His duty was to go before and call by name the sheep (John 10:4), watch it with dogs, a sorry animal in the East (Job 30:1), to search for stray sheep (Ezekiel 34:12; Luke 15:4), to supply water, either at a stream or at troughs by wells (Genesis 29:7; Genesis 30:38; Exodus 2:16), (so Jesus, Psalm 23:2), to bring back to the fold at evening and to reckon the sheep that none be missing (compare as to Jesus John 18:9; John 17:11-12; John 10:28-29), passing one by one "under the rod" (Leviticus 27:32; Jeremiah 33:13; Ezekiel 20:37), (i.e. you shall be counted as Mine, and subjected to My chastening discipline with a view to My ultimate saving of the elect, Micah 7:14), checking each sheep as it passed; to act as porter, guarding the entrance to the fold by night (John 10:3). The shepherds kept watches (plural in Greek, Luke 2:8, not "slumbering," Nahum 3:18) by turns at night, not on duty both night and day as Jacob (Genesis 31:40). Tenderness to the young and feeble was the shepherd's duty, not to overdrive them (Genesis 33:13); so Jesus (Isaiah 40:11-29; Mark 6:31; Mark 8:2; Mark 4:33; John 16:12). There were chief and under shepherds (Genesis 47:6; 1 Peter 5:4), and hirelings not of the family (John 10:11-13; 1 Samuel 21:7). The shepherd had responsibility, and at the same time personal interest in the flock (1 Samuel 31:39; 1 Samuel 30:32; 1 Corinthians 9:7). Playing on the pipe beguiled the monotony, and a feast at shearing time gave a yearly variety (1 Samuel 16:17; Genesis 31:19; Genesis 38:12; 2 Samuel 13:23). Shepherds often contended with one another as to water (Genesis 26:17-22; Exodus 2:17). The Egyptian antipathy to shepherds (whom the monuments always represent as mean) was due to their being themselves agriculturists, whereas the neighbouring Arabs with whom they so often strove were nomads. The seizure of Lower Egypt by shepherd kings (Hyksos) for centuries aggravated this dislike, though the Hyksos were subsequent to Joseph (Genesis 46:34). Princes, and even hostile leaders, are called shepherds: Isaiah 44:28; Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 3:15; Jeremiah 6:3; Ezekiel 34:2; Micah 5:5. Teachers: Ecclesiastes 12:11. Messiah: Genesis 49:24; Psalm 80:1; Zechariah 13:7; John 10:14; Hebrews 13:20.