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 ).
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.
Bibliography InformationEaston, Matthew George. "Entry for Herdsman". "Easton's Bible Dictionary".