plain of Sharon. This area is narrower and less distinct than the Judean Shephelah. There is no basis for viewing the distinction between Judah and Israel in the eleventh chapter of Joshua as an anachronism. A footnote in a commentary by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch observes: “The distinction . . . may be explained without difficulty even from the circumstances of Joshua’s own time. Judah and the double tribe of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) received their inheritance by lot before any of the others. But whilst the tribe of Judah proceeded into the territory allotted to them in the south, all the other tribes still remained in Gilgal; and even at a later period, when Ephraim and Manasseh were in their possessions, all Israel, with the exception of Judah, were still encamped at Shiloh. Moreover, the two parts of the nation were now separated by the territory which was afterwards assigned to the tribe of Benjamin, but had no owner at this time; and in addition to this, the altar, tabernacle, and ark of the covenant were in the midst of Joseph and the other tribes that were still assembled at Shiloh.”—Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (Joshua, Judges, Ruth), pp. 124, 125.
(Sheʹpher) [beauty, elegance].
A mountain on the Sinai PeninsuIa at which Israel had a campsite. (Num. 33:23, 24) A tentative suggestion is Jebel ʽAraif en-Naja, to the S of Kadesh.
A person who tends, feeds and guards sheep or flocks of both sheep and goats. (Gen. 30:35, 36; Matt. 25:32) The occupation of shepherds dates back to Adam’s son Abel. (Gen. 4:2) Although looked upon honorably elsewhere, in agricultural Egypt shepherds were viewed with disdain.—Gen. 46:34.
Often either the owner, his children (both sons and daughters) or another relative cared for the flock. (Gen. 29:9; 30:31; 1 Sam. 16:11) Among the wealthy, as in Nabal’s case, servants worked as shepherds, and there may have been a chief or principal shepherd over the others. (1 Sam. 21:7; 25:7, 14-17) When the owner or members of his family shepherded the animals, the flock usually fared well. But a hired man did not have the same personal interest in the flock, which therefore suffered at times.—John 10:12, 13.
The shepherd’s equipment might include a tent (Isa. 38:12), a garment in which he could wrap himself (Jer. 43:12), a rod and a sling for defense, a bag for keeping provisions of food (1 Sam. 17:40; Ps. 23:4), and a long curved staff or crook used in guiding the flock.—Lev. 27:32; Mic. 7:14.
Nomadic shepherds, like Abraham, dwelt in tents and moved about from one location to another to find pasturage for their flocks. (Gen. 13:2, 3, 18) However, at times the owner of the animals remained at a certain location, his home or camp base, whereas his servants and/or family members traveled with the flock.—Gen. 37:12-17; 1 Sam. 25:2, 3, 7, 15, 16.
VOICE KNOWN BY SHEEP
The flocks of several shepherds were sometimes penned in the same sheepfold for the night, with a doorkeeper to watch over them. When the shepherds arrived in the morning they called to their flock, and the sheep responded to their shepherd and to him only. Walking ahead of the flock, the shepherd led it to pasture. (John 10:1-5) From personal observations in Syria and Palestine in the nineteenth century, W. M. Thomson (The Land and the Book [Grand Rapids, Mich., 1966, 3d printing], pp. 202, 203) writes: “[The sheep] are so tame and so trained that they follow their keeper with the utmost docility. He leads them forth from the fold, or from their houses in the villages, just where he pleases. As there are many flocks in such a place as this, each one takes a different path, and it is his business to find pasture for them. It is necessary, therefore, that they should be taught to follow, and not to stray away into the unfenced fields of corn which lie so temptingly on either side. Any one that thus wanders is sure to get into trouble. The shepherd calls sharply from time to time, to remind them of his presence. They know his voice, and follow on; but, if a stranger call, they stop short, lift up their heads in alarm, and, if it is repeated, they turn and flee, because they know not the voice of a stranger. This is not the fanciful costume of a parable; it is simple fact. I have made the experiment repeatedly. The shepherd goes before, not merely to point out the way, but to see that it is practicable and safe.”
Similarly, J. L. Porter, in The Giant Cities of Bashan and Syria’s Holy Places (1866), page 45 (as quoted by J. M. Freeman in Handbook of Bible Manners and Customs , p. 429), observes: “The shepherds led their flocks forth from the gates of the city. They were in full view, and we watched them and listened to them with no little interest. Thousands of sheep and goats were there, grouped in dense, confused masses. The shepherds stood together until all came out. Then they separated, each shepherd taking a different path, and uttering as he advanced a shrill, peculiar call. The sheep heard them. At first the masses swayed and moved as if shaken by some internal convulsion; then points struck out in the direction taken by the shepherds; these became longer and longer until the confused masses were resolved into long, living streams, flowing after their leaders.”
In the evening the shepherd brought the animals back to the sheepfold, where he stationed himself at the door and counted the sheep as they passed beneath his crook or his hands.—Lev. 27:32; Jer. 33:13.
A RIGOROUS LIFE
The shepherd’s life was not an easy one. He was exposed to both heat and cold, as well as sleepless nights. (Gen. 31:40; Luke 2:8) With personal danger to himself, he protected the flock from predators, such as lions, wolves and bears, as well as from thieves. (Gen. 31:39; 1 Sam. 17:34-36; Isa. 31:4; Amos 3:12; John 10:10-12) The shepherd had to keep the flock from scattering (1 Ki. 22:17), look for lost sheep (Luke 15:4), carry feeble or weary lambs in his bosom (Isa. 40:11) and care for the sick and injured, bandaging broken limbs and rubbing injuries with olive oil. (Ps. 23:5; Ezek. 34:3, 4; Zech. 11:16) He had to exercise care when shepherding ewes giving suck. (Gen. 33:13) Daily, generally around noon, the shepherd watered the flock. (Gen. 29:3, 7, 8) If the animals were watered at wells, gutters in the ground or drinking troughs had to be filled with water. (Ex. 2:16-19; compare Genesis 24:20.) At the wells there sometimes were unpleasant encounters with other shepherds.—Gen. 26:20, 21.
The shepherd was entitled to a share of the flock’s produce (1 Cor. 9:7) and often his wages were paid in animals (Gen. 30:28, 31-33; 31:41), although sometimes also in money. (Zech. 11:7, 12) He might have to make compensation for losses (Gen. 31:39), but under the Law covenant no compensation was required for an animal torn by a wild beast.—Ex. 22:13.
What has been said concerning the shepherd can generally be applied to the herdsman. However, the occupation of herdsman was not restricted to tending sheep and goats. There were also herders of cattle, asses, camels and swine.—Gen. 12:16; 13:7, 8; Matt. 8:32, 33.
FIGURATIVE AND ILLUSTRATIVE USE
Jehovah is a Shepherd who lovingly cares for his sheep, that is, his people. (Ps. 23:1-6; 80:1; Jer. 31:10; Ezek. 34:11-16; 1 Pet. 2:25) His Son Jesus Christ is the “great shepherd” (Heb. 13:20) and the “chief shepherd,” under whose direction the overseers in Christian congregations shepherd the flock of God, willingly, unselfishly and eagerly. (1 Pet. 5:2-4) Jesus