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What are Sheep?
        sheep is mentioned about five hundred times in the Bible, and seems likely to have been the first animal domesticated by man. Gen 4:4, The sheep anciently kept by the Israelites were probably of the broad-tailed variety, in which the tail is a mass of delicate fat sometimes weighing 14 pounds, or even more. Ex 29:22; Lev 3:9, Rev 1:11. Sheep often constituted the chief wealth of a man in patriarchal times; and hence, with the Jews, the care of sheep was among the earliest and most respectable employments, Gen 4:2; Ex 3:1; Job 42:12; 1 Sam 16:11, though it was odious to the Egyptians.

        The office of chief shepherd, Heb 13:20; 1 Pet 5:4, is often mentioned by heathen writers. It was an office of great trust and responsibility, as well as of distinguished honor. 2 Kgs 3:4. Chardin saw a clan of Turcoman shepherds whose flocks consisted of 400,000 beasts of carriage, such as camels, horses, oxen, cows, and asses, and 3,000,000 of sheep and goats. Dr. Shaw confirms his statement.

        Eastern Sheepfold. The shepherd or "sheep-master" was constantly with his flocks by night and by day, to number, gather, feed, conduct, and guard them, Gen 31:39; Luke 2:8, and was often attended with a despised dog. Job 30:1. His care of the sheep was constant and tender, and his control over them very great. Isa 40:11; John 10:1-16. Rev. John Hartley, a missionary in Greece, tells us that he was once passing by a flock of sheep, and, having heard it said they would obey the shepherd's voice, he asked him to call one of his sheep, which instantly left its pasturage and approached the hand of the shepherd with a prompt obedience which he never saw in any other animal. It is also universally true in that country that a stranger they will not follow. They flee from him, for they know not the voice of a stranger. It is said that the shepherds of Judaea gave each lamb a distinct name, and that they instantly obeyed the voice of the shepherd, coming and going daily at his call. An ancient Jewish writer, born and educated in Egypt, states that the sheep, in the season of shearing, would run to the shepherd at his call, and, stooping a little, put themselves into his hands to be shorn and stand quietly until he had done. The docility, timidity, and liability to wander (all which are among the characteristics of this animal) are often figuratively employed by the sacred writers, as 2 Chr 18:16; Ps 119:176; Isa 11:6; Isa 53:6-7; Mic 5:8; Matt 9:36.

        In the O.T. the word "shepherd" is used figuratively for Jehovah, Ps 80:1; Jer 31:10; and for kings, Eze 34:10; but in the N.T. it denotes Christ, John 10:11, etc.; Heb 13:20:1 Pet 5:4, and also those teachers who presided in the synagogues. This use of the word gave rise to the application of the word "shepherd" or "pastor," in modern times, to ministers of the gospel, and those under their spiritual care are called the "fold" or "flock." It was the business of the shepherd to count the sheep daily, perhaps oftener, and he was accountable for any that were missing. Gen 31:38-39; Ex 22:12-13; Lev 27:32; Jer 33:13. See Rod.

        Sometimes a lamb was taken into the tent and brought up like a dog. 2 Sam 12:3. It is common in Armenia to see shepherds carrying in their bosoms the lambs of the flock they are tending. They are too feeble to roam with their dams, and nothing evinces more tenderness and care than gently leading such as are with young, or such as have young lambs to which they give suck. Isa 40:11. Two of our American missionaries tell us that while travelling in Armenia they passed several shepherds, probably from the neighboring villages, carrying in their bosoms the lambs of the flocks they tended. The same scene had already frequently interested them by presenting the source of the beautiful imagery of the prophet. It is exhibited only at one season of the year, when lambs are frequently brought forth during the day at a distance from the fold. The newcomers, being too weak to follow the flock in its rovings after grass, are carried in the bosom of the shepherd, and not unfrequently they so multiply as to fill his arms before night. They are then taken to the fold, and guarded there ; until sufficiently strong to ramble with their dams. One of these enclosures presents an amusing scene when the sheep return anxiously bleating in the evening from their day's pasture, and scores of hungry young ones are conducted by shepherds' boys each to its own mother.

        The time of shearing was a season of great festivity. 1 Sam 25:7-8, 1 Sam 25:11; 2 Sam 13:23. The flock was collected in an uncovered enclosure called a "sheep fold" or "sheepcote." Num 32:16; 2 Sam 7:8; Jer 23:3; Zeph 2:6; John 10:16. Here their legs were tied together, and the "shearing-bouse," 2 Kgs 10:12, 2 Kgs 10:14, literally means the "tie-house." They were never housed at any season of the year.
        A watch-house was often erected in the vicinity of the flocks, from which the approach of danger could be easily descried. This is called the "tower of the flock." Mic 4:8.
        The wool of the sheep was probably made into cloth, Lev 13:47; Deut 22:11, by women. Prov 31:13. It formed part of the tribute paid by the Moabites to Israel, 2 Kgs 3:4, and was a common article of merchandise. Eze 27:18.
        Ewes' milk was an important part of daily food. Deut 32:14; 1 Cor 9:7.
        The flesh of sheep and lambs was eaten. 1 Sam 25:18; 1 Kgs 1:19; 1 Kgs 4:23; Ps 44:11. If Josh 6:4 is correctly rendered, as probably it is not,
        rams' horns were made into trumpets.
        Sheep-skins were used as a covering for the tabernacle, Ex 25:5, and the poor clothed themselves in them. Heb 11:37.
        The sheep was especially the animal of sacrifice, and there were few offerings required in which the lamb or the ram was not admissible.
        As an animal symbolical of innocence and purity, the sheep was well fitted for this use. With reference to his sacrificial mission, as well as to his meekness, patience, and submission, Christ is often called "the Lamb," "the Lamb of God," "the Lamb slain." John 1:29, Eze 23:36; Rev 13:8; Rev 22:1, Acts 22:3.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'sheep' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

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