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Adonis, the son of Cinyras, a king of Cyprus, fed his flocks by the streaming rivers :
". Et formosus oves ad Aumina pavit Adonis.” Vir. Ecl. x, 1. 18. Andromache, the wife of Hector, complains that Achilles had slain her seven brothers when they were tending their flocks and herds. Æneas pastured his oxen on mount Ida, when Achilles seized them and forced the Trojan hero to flee. Phoebus himself was a keeper of oxen in the groves and valleys of Mount Ida.P
This custom has descended to modern times; for in Syria the daughters of the Turcoman and Arabian shepherds, and in India the Brahmin women of distinction, are seen drawing water at the village wells, and tending their cattle to the lakes and rivers.
But in the course of ages, the character of the shepherd gradually declined, till it fell into supreme contempt. This was particulary the case in Greece, where it had once been held in the highest estimation, and Theocritus has in bis Idylls, left us more than one striking example of the insults which these successors of princes and nobles had to suffer in his time. It is by no means improbable that the same feeling operated in other countries ; and it is supposed, the prophet Amos alludes to it in the frank avowal which he makes to the priest of Bethel of his original condition: “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit."
The flocks and herds of these shepherds were immensely numerous. The sheep of the Bedoween Arabs in Egypt and probably throughout the east, are very fine,
n Iliad, lib. vi, l. 423. • Ib. lib. xx, l. 90. p Ib. lib. xxi, l. 448. 9 The learned reader may consult Bochart's Hieroz. lib. ii, c. 39, p. 382. * Amos vii, 14.
black faced and white faced, and many of them clothed in a brown coloured fleece :" And of this superior breed the overgrown flocks of Syrian shepherds consisted. So great was the stock of Abraham and Lot, that they were obliged to separate, because “ the land was not able to bear them.” From the present which Jacob made to his brother Esau, consisting of five hundred and eighty head of different sorts, we may form some idea of the countless numbers of great and small cattle, which he had acquired in the service of Laban. In modern times, the numbers of cattle in the Turcoman flocks, which feed on the fertile plains of Syria, are al. most incredible. They sometimes occupy three or four days in passing from one part of the country to another. Chardin had an opportunity of seeing a clan of Turcoman shepherds on their march, about two days distance from Aleppo. The whole country was covered with them. Many of their principal people with whom he conversed on the road, assured him, that there were four hundred thousand beasts of carriage, camels, horses, oxen, cows, and asses, and three millions of sheep and goats. This astonishing account of Chardin, is confirmed by Dr. Shaw, who states, that several Arabian tribes, who can bring no more than three or four hundred horses into the field, possessed of more than so many thousand camels, and triple the number of sheep and black cattle. Russel, in his history of Aleppo, speaks of vast flocks which pass that city every year, of which many sheep are sold to supply the inhabitants. The flocks and herds which belonged to the Jewish patriarchs, were not more numerous."
s Dr. Richardson's Tray. vol. ii, p. 197.
+ MS, vol. vi. u Shaw's Trav. vol. i, p. 303, 309. Russel's Hist. of Aleppo, vol. i, p. 165, 388, &c. Harmer's Observ. vol. i, p. 210, 211.
The care of such overgrown flocks, required the attention of many shepherds. These were of different kinds ; the master of the family and his children, with a number of herdsmen who were hired to assist them, and felt but little interest in the preservation and increase of their charge. In Hebrew, these persons, so different in station and feeling, were not distinguished by appropriate names; the master, the slave, and the hired servant, were all known by the common appellation of shepherds. The distinction, not sufficiently important to require the invention of a particular term, is expressed among every people by a periphrasis. The only instance in the Old Testament, in which the hired servant is distinguished from the master, or one of his family, occurs in the history of David, where he is said to have left the sheep (121w 3y) in the hand of a keeper, while he went down to visit his brethren, and the armies who were fighting against the Philistines under the banners of Saul. This word exactly corresponds with the Latin term custos, a keeper, which Virgil uses to denote a hireling shepherd, in his tenth Eclogue:
Atque utinam ex vobis unus, vestrique fuissem
1. 36. In such extensive pastoral concerns, the vigilance and activity of the master were often insufficient for directing the operations of so many shepherds, that were not unfrequently scattered over a considerable extent of country. An upper servant was therefore appointed to superintend their labours, and take care that his master suffered no injury. In the house of Abraham, this honourable station was held by Eliezer, a native of Damascus, a servant in every respect worthy of so great and good a mas
'Sam. xvii, 20.
ter. The numerous flocks of Pharaoh, seem to have required the superintending care of many overseers." Doeg, an Edomite, was intrusted with the whole pastoral establishment of Saul. But in the reign of David, the important office of chief herdsman was abolished, and the vast flocks and herds of that monarch, were intrusted to a number of superintendants ; animals of the same species forming a separate flock, under its proper overseer. These overseers, in the language of the Hebrews, were called the princes of the flock; they were treated with great distinc. tion, and seem to have been selected in the reign of David from among the nobles of his court.
Eumæus a person of noble birth, agreeably to this custom was charged with the care of the herds of swine belonging to Ulysses.” The office of chief shepherd, is frequently mentioned by the classic authors of antiquity. Diodorus relates from Ctesias, that Simma was overseer of the royal flocks under Ninus, king of Assyria. According to Plutarch, one Samo managed the flocks and herds of Neoptolemus, the king of the Molossians. The office of chief shepherd was also known among the Latins; for, in the seventh Ænead, Tyrrheus is named as governor of the royal flocks :
“ Tyrrheusque pater, cui regia parent
Armenta, et late custodia credita campi.” And Livy informs us, that Faustulus held the same office under Numitor, king of the Latins.b But it is needless to multiply quotations; every scholar knows, that the Greek and Roman classics abound with allusions to this office, which in those days was one of great importance and dignity, on the faithful discharge of which, the power and splendour of an eastern potentate greatly depended. The office of chief shepherd, therefore, being in pastoral countries one of great trust, of high responsibility, and of distinguished honour, is with great propriety applied to our Lord by the apostle Peter : “ And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory which fadeth not away."e
w Gen. xlvii, 6. * 1 Sam. xxi, 7. y 1 Chron. xxvii, 29.
Odyssey, lib. xiv, l. 48, 107 ; and lib. xx, l. 173, 185. a Lib. ii, cap. 4.
b Book i. Bochart. Hieroz. lib. ii, cap. 44, p. 444, 445.
The same allusion occurs in these words of Paul: “ Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will."
The only other distribution of oriental shepherds, mentioned in the holy Scriptures, is into good and bad. A bad or foolish shepherd is thus described by the prophet: “ And the Lord said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that are cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that which is broken, nor feed that which standeth still; but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock.”g In this passage, the prophet fixes a mark of indelible infamy upon the unfaithful shepherd; he calls him a person
a The guardian or controller of the royal herds of mares, which are very large, is an officer in Persia of considerable consequence, and is selected always from men of rank and importance in the state: and his office is to register every foal as it falls. He has subordinate agents, entrusted severally with the charge of twenty mares, and with the choice of their pastures. Morier's Trav. vol. i, p. 302. °1 Pet. i, 4, 5. f Heb. xiii, 20.
& Zech. xi, 16.