Historic Jesus

Character Profile


In Hebrew, means "one who tends." The duties of a shepherd were as follows: In the morning, the shepherd would gather his flock from a fold or a penned area by calling to them and leading them to a pasture. He watched his flock, usually with the assistance of dogs and, should any sheep stray, he would search for it until he found it. He found water for them either from a running stream or at troughs attached to wells. In the evening, he brought them back to the fold, making sure that none of them were missing. He guarded the entrance of the fold throughout the night, sometimes by sleeping across it. The shepherd was required to be watchful and tender toward his sheep.

Shepherding was a life of hardship and even danger. He was exposed to the extremes of heat and cold and his food frequently consisted of that which he could forage. Many times he had to fight off attacks of wild animals; and face the threat of being robbed or attacked by predatory hordes.

For protection, he would have with him a mantle, probably made of sheepskin; for warmth; a scrip or wallet, containing a small amount of food; a sling for a weapon; a staff, which served the double purpose of a weapon against foes, and a crook for the management of the flock. If the shepherd was far from home, he may also have had a light tent. Usually, though, the shepherd found shelter in caves. (Merrill F. Unger, Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois 1974, 1013.)