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.