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Biblical Archaeology Review 46:3, Summer 2020

Epistles: Bible Threads: Shepherding People

Biblical Archaeology Review

The Bible talks a lot about shepherds, and not just in reference to sheep. Given that many biblical figures were pastoralists and relied heavily on sheep for meat and clothing, all this shepherd talk should not surprise us. In fact, we see the motif of shepherding people woven throughout the Bible. Here are some of our favorite quotes (NRSV).

(1) Genesis 48:15-16

“He [Jacob] blessed Joseph, and said, ‘The God before whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all harm, bless the boys; and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude on the earth.’”

(2) Numbers 27:16-17

“Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint someone over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

(3) 2 Samuel 7:7

“Wherever I [the Lord] have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’”

(4) Psalm 23:1

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