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ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE FROM THE PASTORAL
LIFE OF THE ORIENTALS.
Oriental Shepherds. Their wealth and power.-Manner of life. Flocks
and herds.Immense numbers of their cattle.-Their servants.-Overseers of their property.- The bad shepherd.— The good shepherd.-Wander in search of pasture for their flocks.-Risk their lives in defence of their charge.-Accountable for the flocks under their care.—Exposed to all the vicissitudes of the seasons. -Their great skill, vigilance, and care in the management of their flocks.—Providing water for their flocks. Digging wells.-Covering their mouth with a stone...Wells extremely valuable. To fill them up an act of hostility.--Robbers lurk near them.. Shepherd's implements—His vestments-His bag or scrip–His staff and crook~His arms.- -Scene of the parable of the good Samaritan.- Time of pasturing the flocks.—Manner of conducting them.- Devoted a part of their leisure to music. Sometimes lodged in caves.- -Their tents.-Fur. niture and utensils of their tents. Their coverings of different colours. Their huts and booths.—Their hospitality. Their sheep-cotes.-Sheepwashing.--Sheep-shearing--A time of general hilarity.--Making butter. _Coagulating milk.--Trade with the neighbouring cities.-Engage a little in agriculture. Formed alliances with their neighbours.-Amused themselves by hunting.–Shepherds an abomination to the Egyptians.
The first man was no sooner expelled from the garden of Eden for his breach of covenant, and doomed to earn his bread with the sweat of his brow, than he attempted to reduce the more useful animals under his yoke; and with so much success, that the sacred historian marks it as the proper employment of Abel, his younger son, that he
was a keeper of sheep.” But it is in Jabal, a son of Cain, that we find the first example of an oriental shepherd: “ he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle."a No farther notice is taken of antediluvian shepherds, in the rapid narrative of Moses; but it is reasonable to suppose, that the descendants of Jabal continued, according to the manners of the east, to follow the employment of their father, till the deluge swept them all away. Noah, it is probable, was devoted to husbandry from his earliest years; for Moses observes, that immediately after the deluge, he “ began to be an husbandman;" he resumed his labours in the field, which had been interrupted by that dreadful catastrophe. But the cares of the shepherd devolved upon his eldest son Shem, the great progenitor of God's ancient people—a man, it would seem, imbued with a religious spirit, and devoted to a contemplative life, to which that employment is peculiarly favourable. By him it was transmitted to his renowned descendant Abraham, with whom he lived more than a hundred years. While it appears from the history of Laban, that the other branches of his family continued, after his example, to tend their flocks and their herds on the banks of the Euphrates and its tributary streams; the posterity of Abraham followed the same employment in the fertile pastures of Canaan, for several succeeding ages. This is the account which Joseph gave to Pharaoh, when his family came down into Egypt : “ The men are shep
Gen. iv, 20.
Chap. ix, 20. • Bochart. Hieroz. lib. ii, cap. 44, p. 441.
herds ; for their trade has been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have."d And he directed them to say, when they should be admitted to an audience of the king: “ Thy servants' trade has been about cattle, from our youth even until now, both we and also our fathers.”
The patriarchal shepherds, rich in flocks and herds, in silver and gold, and attended by a numerous train of servants purchased with their money, or hired from the neighbouring towns and villages, acknowledged no civil superior; they held the rank, and exercised the rights of sovereign princes; they concluded alliances with the kings in whose territories they tended their flocks; they made peace or war with the surrounding states; and in fine, they wanted nothing of sovereign authority but the name. Unfettered by the cumbrous ceremonies of regal power, they led a plain and laborious life, in perfect freedom and overflowing abundance. Refusing to confine themselves to any particular spot, (for the pastures were not yet appropriated), they lived in tents, and removed from one place to another in search of pasture for their cattle. Strangers in the countries where they sojourned, they refused to mingle with the permanent settlers, to occupy their towns, and to form with them one people. They were concious of their strength, and jealous of their independence; and
a Gen. xlvi, 32.
• In some countries of Africa the modern Bedouin tribes, when the ponds in the desert are dried up, pitch their tents and pasture their flocks in the cultivated regions, among the villages, permission being granted them by the Sultan, who levies heavy duties upon them, paid in cows, camels, and sheep. But in other parts, they refuse to submit to such exactions; and, like the ancient patriarchs, tend their flocks where they please. Burckhardt's Trav. p. 486.
although patient and forbearing, their conduct proved, on several occasions, that they wanted neither skill nor courage to vindicate their rights and avenge their wrongs. In the wealth, the power, and the splendour of patriarchal shepherds, we discover the rudiments of regal grandeur and authority; and in their numerous and hardy retainers,
of potent empires. Hence the custom so prevalent among the ancients, of distinguishing the office and duties of their kings and princes, by terms borrowed from the pastoral life:--Agamemnon shepherd of the people, (Αγαμεμνονα ποιμενα λαών,) is a phrase to be met with every where in the strains of Homer. The sacred writers very often speak of kings under the name of shepherds, and compare the royal sceptre to the shepherd's crook : “He chose David also bis servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes great with young, he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.”g And Jehovah said to David himself: “ Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel."h
The royal Psalmist, on the other hand, celebrates under the same allusions, the special care and goodness of God towards himself, and also towards his ancient people. “ The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
66 Give ear, O shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth."! But to multiply quotations is useless; in an hundred places of Scripture, the church is compared to a sheepfold, the saints to sheep, and the ministers of religion to shepherds, who must render at last an account of their administration to the Shepherd and Overseer to whom they owe their authority.
Bochart. Hieroz. lib. ii, cap. 44, p. 441. & Psa. lxxviii, 70. 2 Sam. v, 2.
i Psa. xxiii, 1, and lxxx, 1.
The patriarchs did not commit their flocks and herds solely to the care of menial servants and strangers; they tended them in person, or placed them under the superintendance of their sons and their daughters, who were bred to the same laborious employment, and taught to perform, without reluctance, the meanest services. Rebecca, the only daughter of a shepherd prince, went to a considerable distance to draw water; and it is evident from the readiness and address with which she let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and gave drink to the servant of Abraham, and afterwards drew for all his camels, that she had been long accustomed to that humble employment. From the same authority we know, that Rachel, the daughter of Laban, kept her father's flocks, and submitted to the various privations and hardships of the pastoral life, in the deserts of Syria. The patriarch Jacob, though he was the son of a shepherd prince, kept the flocks of Laban his maternal uncle; and his own sons followed the same business, both in Mesopotamia, and after his return to the land of Canaan. This primeval simplicity was long retained among the Greeks. Homer often sends the daughters of princes and nobles, to tend the flocks, to wash the clothes of the family at the fountain, or in the flowing stream, and to perform many other menial services.
j Varro de Re Rust. lib. ii, cap. 10. Theoc. Idyll. 9. Odyss. lib. xiii, 1. 222, 223. Minerva appeared to Ulysses in the form of a very young shepherd, such as the sons of kings are wont to be.
D'Arvieux Voy. dans la Palest. p. 230. Dr. Russel's Hist. of Aleppo, MS. note, quoted by Dr. Clarke. Forbes's Orient. Mem. vol. i, p. 79, 80, 191.
? Iliad, lib. vi, I. 59, 78. Odyss. lib. vi, 1. 57, and lib. xii, l. 131.