Shepherd an Unlikely Metaphor
The shepherd is an unlikely hero. Many aspire to be great, but few of being a shepherd.
In the ancient world, shepherds were classified with thieves and cheats; on the bottom rung of the social ladder. Living with sheep is a dirty job. Shepherds were religiously unclean because it was impossible to practice religious rituals and be responsible for the flock. It was a smelly, anti-social, reclusive, nomadic job, and the shepherd emitted the ambiance of a homeless person.
Shepherd’s Romantic Qualities
Yet contrary to the social stigmas associated with shepherds, similar to the glamorization of the American cowboy, there was a romantic quality to the shepherd, a free-spirited explorer living in nature under the stars at night and in the shade of an oasis by day.
The Shepherd Paradox
The shepherd was also viewed as a leadership simile, thus the paradox. Being seen as lowly and rejected while, at the same time, a symbol for a revered and respected king or leader. The shepherd has been a metaphor for leadership throughout history and a popular old world term of distinction and importance for people in positions of prominence and influence.
The question to be ask next is: Why would Jesus use the shepherd as a metaphor? (Next post)