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Figure of the Shepherd

Figure of the Shepherd

Excerpt
The figure of the shepherd and his sheep is important in the NT. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gives his life for the sheep (Mt 18:10–14Mk 6:34Jn 10Heb 13:20). The analogy of the shepherd and the flock finds rich expression in Psalm 23Ezekiel 34, and John 10. God was the Shepherd of Israel (Gn 49:24Pss 23:180:1Is 40:11). When unfaithful shepherds failed Israel, God intervened and appointed his servant David as a faithful shepherd over them (Ez 34:11–1623–24).
The NT imagery comes from an OT and Palestinian background. In the Jewish economy, the shepherd who tended a flock of sheep or goats held a responsible position. Great flocks had to be moved from place to place, and it was necessary that they are guarded against wild animals and robbers. Because of the fundamental role of shepherding in the ancient world, the word “shepherd” became a common term for a ruler. The kings of Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt were often referred to as shepherds who protected their people. This imagery formed the background for the OT, where the same usage is found. God is pictured as the shepherd of Israel, concerned about every aspect of his people’s welfare. Rulers and leaders of the people are often referred to as shepherds (Nm 27:171 Kgs 22:17Jer 10:2112:1022:2223:1–2). More
Elwell, Walter A., and Philip Wesley Comfort. Tyndale Bible Dictionary, 2001: 1192. Print. Tyndale Reference Library.
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