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 ).
hurdz'-man (boqer; the King James Version, the English Revised Version "herdman"):
A cowherd (Amos 7:14). The same word is used in Syria today. ro`eh, has its equivalent in the language of Syria and Palestine (Arabic ra'i), and is a general term for any kind of a herdsman (Genesis 13:7,8; 26:20; 1 Samuel 21:7). noqedh, occurs in one passage (Amos 1:1); literally it means one who spots or marks the sheep, hence, a herdsman. Spotting the wool with different dyes is still the method of distinguishing between the sheep of different flocks. The herdsman is seldom the owner of the sheep, but a hireling.
See SHEEP; SHEEP TENDING.
James A. Patch
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