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In Egypt herdsmen were probably of the lowest caste. Some of Joseph's brethren were made rulers over Pharaoh's cattle ( Genesis 47:6 Genesis 47:17 ). The Israelites were known in Egypt as "keepers of cattle;" and when they left it they took their flocks and herds with them ( Exodus 12:38 ). Both David and Saul came from "following the herd" to occupy the throne ( 1 Samuel 9 ; 11:5 ; Psalms 78:70 ). David's herd-masters were among his chief officers of state. The daughters also of wealthy chiefs were wont to tend the flocks of the family ( Genesis 29:9 ; Exodus 2:16 ). The "chief of the herdsmen" was in the time of the monarchy an officer of high rank ( 1 Samuel 21:7 ; Compare 1 Chronicles 27:29 ). The herdsmen lived in tents ( Isaiah 38:12 ; Jeremiah 6:3 ); and there were folds for the cattle ( Numbers 32:16 ), and watch-towers for the herdsmen, that he might therefrom observe any coming danger ( Micah 4:8 ; Nahum 3:8 ).

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Herdsman". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .