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ATS Bible Dictionary

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Additional Resources
• Nave's Topical Bible
» Shepherd
• Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
» Egypt
• Torrey's Topical Textbook
» Christ, the Shepherd
• Easton's Bible Dictionary
» Shepherd
• Fausset's Bible Dictionary
» Shepherd
• Smith's Bible Dictionary
» Shepherd
• International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
» Shepherd
Greek - chief shepherd, Chief Shepherd
Greek - shepherd
Greek - Shepherd, shepherd, shepherds
Hebrew - shepherd
Hebrew - shepherd, Shepherd, shepherd's, shepherded, shepherdess, shepherds, shepherds fed, shepherds feed, shepherds who are tending, shepherds will not feed, shepherds', sweep away your shepherds
Hebrew - shepherd, shepherd's


Abel was a keeper of sheep, Genesis 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, Genesis 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, Genesis 29:6; his sons, the fathers of the tribes of Israel were shepherds, and so was David their king, Psalms 78:70-72. The employment is highly honored in the Bible, Luke 2:8-20. In the time of the kings, the "chief herdsman" occupies a post of some importance, 1 Samuel 21:7 2 Kings 3:4 1 Chronicles 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, Genesis 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, Exodus 3:1 Psalms 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, Genesis 14:14-24 21:22-32 26:13-16 30:43 Job 1:3.

God sometimes takes the name of Shepherd of Israel, Psalms 80:1 Jeremiah 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, illtreat, seduce, and lead them astray, Ezekiel 34:10. In like manner Christ, as the Messiah, is often called a shepherd,

Zechariah 13:7, and also takes on himself the title of "the Good Shepherd," who gives his life for his sheep, John 10:11,14,15. Paul calls him the great Shepherd of the sheep, Hebrews 13:20, and Peter gives him the appellation of Prince of shepherds, 1 Peter 5:4. His ministers are in like manner the pastors or under-shepherds of the flock, Jeremiah 3:15 23:3 Ephesians 4:11.

In John 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, Genesis 31:39 Exodus 22:12 John 10:28; he had need of great courage and endurance, Genesis 31:40 1 Samuel 17:34,35 John 15:10; he exercised a tender care towards the feeble, and carried the lambs in his arms, Genesis 33:13 Isaiah 40:11 Mark 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, Psalms 23:1-6 Luke 15:4-7.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'SHEPHERD'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1859.


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