Shepherds show up throughout the mythology of Western culture. In the Old Testament, JHVH appears to Moses (as the burning bush) when Moses is out tending the sheep. In the New Testament, shepherds are the first people to see the baby Jesus, and (in some accounts) the first people he appears to after his resurrection. In the epic of Gilgamesh, Shamhat takes Enkidu to the shepherds after she persuades him to leave the wilderness.

While the humility, isolation, and low status of shepherds is important to all these stories, it's also vital to realize that at the time these stories were told, shepherds were not obscure, serene, primitive individuals. Shepherding was a very common occupation, and probably used because the audience would be familiar with it. Today Jesus might appear to the janitorial staff.

Shep"herd (?), n. [OE. schepherde, schephirde, AS. scéaphyrde; scéap sheep + hyrde, hirde, heorde, a herd, a guardian. See Sheep, and Herd.]

1.

A man employed in tending, feeding, and guarding sheep, esp. a flock grazing at large.

2.

The pastor of a church; one with the religious guidance of others.

Shepherd bird Zool., the crested screamer. See Screamer. -- Shepherd dog Zool., a breed of dogs used largely for the herding and care of sheep. There are several kinds, as the collie, or Scotch shepherd dog, and the English shepherd dog. Called also shepherd's dog. -- Shepherd dog, a name of Pan. Keats. -- Shepherd kings, the chiefs of a nomadic people who invaded Egypt from the East in the traditional period, and conquered it, at least in part. They were expelled after about five hundred years, and attempts have been made to connect their expulsion with narrative in the book of Exodus. -- Shepherd's club Bot., the common mullein. See Mullein. -- Shepherd's crook, a long staff having the end curved so as to form a large hook, -- used by shepherds. -- Shepherd's needle Bot., the lady's comb. -- Shepherd's plaid, a kind of woolen cloth of a checkered black and white pattern. -- Shephered spider Zool., a daddy longlegs, or harvestman. -- Shepherd's pouch, or Shepherd's purse Bot., an annual cruciferous plant (Capsella Bursapastoris) bearing small white flowers and pouchlike pods. See Illust. of Silicle. -- Shepherd's rod, ∨ Shepherd's staff Bot., the small teasel.

 

© Webster 1913.


Shep"herd, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Shepherded; p. pr. & vb. n. Shepherding.]

To tend as a shepherd; to guard, herd, lead, or drive, as a shepherd.

[Poetic]

White, fleecy clouds . . .

Shepherded by the slow, unwilling wind.

Shelley.

 

© Webster 1913.

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