A Shepherd’s World
April 2008

“A Shepherd’s World,” New Era, April 2008, 21

A Shepherd’s World

Some of the words in the scriptures that refer to sheep and shepherds become clearer with explanation. Here are a few of their meanings:*

Sheepfold (see John 10:9)

“A shallow cave was a good place of safety, and a wall was often built partly across the cave mouth to form an enclosure in front of it. The wall was made of local stones and was topped with thorns. … The shepherd lay down across the one opening, effectively becoming a door for the sheep.”

Cloak (see Jeremiah 43:12)

“The shepherd’s cloak is made of sheepskin or material woven of wool, goat hair or camel hair and protects him from cold and rain. It serves as his blanket at night. An inner pouch is large enough to hold a newborn lamb when it has to be helped over rough places, or when because of sickness or injury, it has to be taken to a place of shelter.”

Rod and Staff (see Psalm 23:4)

The rod is a club made out of a straight young tree uprooted for this purpose, the bulb at the beginning of the root is trimmed to make the head of the club.

The staff is about six feet long and made of wood; it may have a crook at one end. It can be used as a weapon of defense, but it is also used to help the shepherd get around easily in hilly or rough country, and it helps control the sheep.

Scrip (see 1 Samuel 17:40)

The scrip is a bag made of tanned skin where the shepherd usually put his stock of bread, olives, cheeses, raisins or dried figs.

  • From Ralph Gower, The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times, Moody Press (1987), and Bible Manners & Customs, Rev. G. M. Mackie (1898).