Or PASTOR. Abel was a keeper of sheep, Ge 4:2, as were the greater number of the ancient patriarchs. When men began to multiply, and to follow different employments, Jabal son of Lamech was acknowledged as father, that is, founder of shepherd and nomads, Ge 4:20. A large part of the wealth of ancient patriarchs consisted in flocks and herds, the care of which was shared by their sons, daughters, and servants. Rachel the bride of Jacob was a shepherdess, Ge 29:6; his sons, the fathers of the tribes of Israel were shepherds, and so was David their king, Ps 78:70-72. The employment is highly honored in the Bible, Lu 2:8-20. In the time of the kings, the "chief herdsman" occupies a post of some importance, 1Sa 21:7; 2Ki 3:4; 1Ch 27:29-31. In Palestine and its vicinity, besides those who united the keeping of flocks and herds with the tillage of the ground, there were and still are numbers of nomads or wandering shepherds confining themselves to no settled home. These dwellers in tents often had a wide range of pasture grounds, from one to another of which they drove their flocks as occasion required, Ge 37:12-17. In the vast deserts east and south of Palestine they found many spots which in winter and spring were clothed with verdure, Ex 3:1; Ps 65:12. But the heat of summer withered these "pastures of the wilderness," and drove the shepherds and their flocks to seek for highlands and streams. There are many indications in the Scripture of the conscious strength and independence of he ancient shepherd patriarchs, of the extent of their households, and the consideration in which they were held, Ge 14:14-24; 21:22-32; 26:13-16; 30:43; Job 1:3.
God sometimes takes the name of Shepherd of Israel, Ps 80:1 Jer 31:10; and kings, both in Scripture and ancient writers, are distinguished by the title of "Shepherds of the people." The prophets often inveigh against the "shepherds of Israel," that is, the kings, who feed themselves and neglect their flocks; who distress, ill-treat, seduce, and lead them astray, Eze 34:10. In like manner Christ, as the Messiah, is often called a shepherd,
Zec 13:7, and also takes on himself the title of "the Good Shepherd," who gives his life for his sheep, Joh 10:11,14-15. Paul calls him the great Shepherd of the sheep, Heb 13:20, and Peter gives him the appellation of Prince of shepherds, 1Pe 5:4. His ministers are in like manner the pastors or under-shepherds of the flock, Jer 3:15; 23:3; Eph 4:11.
In Joh 10:1-16, our Savior says the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep; that he knows them, and they know him; that they hear his voice, and follow him; that he goes before them; that no one shall force them out of his hands, and that he calls them by their names. These, however, being all incidents taken from the customs of the country, are by no means so striking to us as they must have been to those who heard our Lord, and who every day witnessed such methods of conducting this domesticated animal. Modern travelers in the East meet with many pleasing confirmation of the truth of Scripture in respect to these particulars; they see the shepherd walking before his flock, any one of which will instantly run to him when called by its own name. The hireling, or bad shepherd, forsakes the sheep, and the thief enters not by the door of the sheepfold, but climbs in another way. See SHEEP. The Bible applies many of the excellences of the faithful shepherd in illustration of the Savior's care of his flock. The shepherd was responsible for each member of the flock intrusted to him, Ge 31:39; Ex 22:12; Joh 10:28; he had need of great courage and endurance, Ge 31:40; 1Sa 17:34-35; Joh 15:10; he exercised a tender care towards the feeble, and carried the lambs in his arms, Ge 33:13; Isa 40:11; Mr 10:14,16; and searched for the lost sheep, bringing it back from the "land of drought and the shadow of death" into green pastures and still waters, Ps 23; Lu 15:4-7.
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; Na 3:18; Joh 10:11,14; Heb 13:20; 1Pe 2:25; 5:4).
The duties of a shepherd in an unenclosed country like Palestine 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 labours 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 1Sa 17:34).", Deane's David.
(See SHEEP.) The nomadic state is one of the earliest stages of society, and was regarded as honourable even to a chief (Ge 4:2,20; 30:29 ff; Genesis 37); chiefs' daughters did not disdain to tend flocks (Ge 29:6, etc.; Ex 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 (1Sa 25:2), Bethlehem (1Sa 16:11; Lu 2:8), Tekoa (Am 1:1), and Gedor (1Ch 4:39). Hence the "shepherd's tent" came to symbolize desolation (Eze 25:4; Zep 2:6). The shepherd's occupation was now no longer dignified (Ps 78:70; 2Sa 7:8; Am 7:14).
The shepherd's office represents Jehovah's tender care of His people (Psalm 23; Isa 40:11; 49:9-10; Jer 23:3-4; Eze 34:11-12,23). Allusions occur to the exposure to heat and cold (Ge 31:40), the precarious food (Am 7:14), the husks of the carob (Lu 15:16), the attacks of beasts (1Sa 17:34; Isa 31:4; Am 3:12), robbers (Ge 31:39). The shepherd had a mantle of sheepskin with the fleece on (Jer 43:12), a wallet for food (1Sa 17:40), a sling such as the Bedouin still carries, a staff to ward off foes and to guide the flock with its crook (Ps 23:4; Zec 11:7; so Jehovah "lifts up His staff against" His people's foes, Isa 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 1:8), easily taken down and shifted (Isa 38:12).
Towers were sometimes erected to spy a foe afar off, and to guard the flock (2Ch 26:10; 27:4, compare "tower of Edar," Ge 35:21; Mic 4:8). (See EDAR.) His duty was to go before and call by name the sheep (Joh 10:4), watch it with dogs, a sorry animal in the East (Job 30:1), to search for stray sheep (Eze 34:12; Lu 15:4), to supply water, either at a stream or at troughs by wells (Ge 29:7; 30:38; Ex 2:16), (so Jesus, Ps 23:2), to bring back to the fold at evening and to reckon the sheep that none be missing (compare as to Jesus Joh 18:9; 17:11-12; 10:28-29), passing one by one "under the rod" (Le 27:32; Jer 33:13; Eze 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, Mic 7:14), checking each sheep as it passed; to act as porter, guarding the entrance to the fold by night (Joh 10:3).
The shepherds kept watches (plural in Greek, Lu 2:8, not "slumbering," Na 3:18) by turns at night, not on duty both night and day as Jacob (Ge 31:40). Tenderness to the young and feeble was the shepherd's duty, not to overdrive them (Ge 33:13); so Jesus (Isa 40:11-29; Mr 6:31; 8:2; 4:33; Joh 16:12). There were chief and under shepherds (Ge 47:6; 1Pe 5:4), and hirelings not of the family (Joh 10:11-13; 1Sa 21:7). The shepherd had responsibility, and at the same time personal interest in the flock (1Sa 31:13; 30:31; 1Co 9:7).
Playing on the pipe beguiled the monotony, and a feast at shearing time gave a yearly variety (1Sa 16:17; Ge 31:19; 38:12; 2Sa 13:23). Shepherds often contended with one another as to water (Ge 26:17-22; Ex 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 (Ge 46:34). Princes, and even hostile leaders, are called shepherds: Isa 44:28; Jer 2:8; 3:15; 6:3; Eze 34:2; Mic 5:5. Teachers: Ec 12:11. Messiah: Ge 49:24; Ps 80:1; Zec 13:7; Joh 10:14; Heb 13:20.
A person's wealth in the East frequently consisted of flocks, the shepherd therefore held an important and honourable position. David was a keeper of sheep. Joseph instructed his brethren to tell Pharaoh that they were shepherds, and they asked permission to dwell in Goshen, for every shepherd was an abomination to the Egyptians. This is supposed to have been caused by some 'shepherd-kings' having usurped authority over Egypt. The difficulties and hardships of a shepherd's life in the East may be gathered from what Jacob passed through during the time he was with Laban. Ge 31:39-40.
The sheep following the shepherd is a sight often witnessed in the East, and that each sheep has a name and knows the shepherd's voice, has been tested and proved again and again. All this is beautifully typical of the relation of Jehovah to Israel and of Christ to the church. The sheep of Christ know the good Shepherd's voice, and find salvation, liberty, and pasture in following the One who leads. The good Shepherd gives them eternal life, having given His life for the sheep. Christ is called the great Shepherd, for the work which He accomplished could have been done only by One who was Himself God, though become man to work out redemption.
In the church there are those who by reason of gift are called pastors, to feed and shepherd the sheep; but Christ is the chief Shepherd, who is over all, whose own the sheep are, and who has given His word that they shall never perish. Ps. 23; Zec 13:7; Joh 10:2-16; Heb 13:20; 1Pe 5:4; etc.
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,
ff.; Gene 37:12 ff., but even by their daughters.
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.
ff. Thenceforward in Palestine 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,
his food frequently consisted of the precarious supplies afforded by nature, such as the fruit of the "sycamore" or Egyptian fig,
the "husks" of the carob tree,
and perchance the locusts and wild honey which supported the Baptist,
he had to encounter the attacks of wild beasts, occasionally of the larger species, such as lions, nerves, panthers and bears,
nor was he free from the risk of robbers or predators hordes.
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
(cf. Juv. xiv. 187.); a scrip or wallet, containing a small amount of food
a sling, which is still the favorite weapon of the Bedouin shepherd,
and lastly, a which served the double purpose of a weapon against foes and a crook for the management of the flock.
If the shepherd was at a distance from his home, he was provided with a light tent,
the removal of which was easily effected.
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,
while their existence in earlier times is testified by the name Migdal-edar
Authorized Version "a tower of Edar;"
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
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,
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,
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
checking each sheep, as it passed, by a motion of the hand,
and, finally, he watched the entrance of the fold throughout the night, acting as porter.
[See Sheepfold, under SHEEP] The shepherd's office thus required great watchfulness, particularly by night.
cf. Nahu 3:18 It also required tenderness toward the young and feeble,
particularly in driving them to and from the pasturage.
In large establishments there are various grades of shepherds, the highest being styled "rulers,"
or "chief shepherds,"
in a royal household the title of abbir "mighty," was bestowed on the person who held the post.