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From earliest times people have kept sheep, whether for their meat or for their wool (Genesis 4:2). In the dry semi-desert regions around Palestine, many of the Arabs and other tribal people moved with their flocks from place to place, looking for pastures and water (Genesis 26:12-22; Exodus 3:1; Isaiah 13:20). In other lands, where there was a better supply of grass and water, people who settled down permanently in one area kept sheep as part of their farming activity. After settling down in Canaan, the Israelites, on the whole, belonged to this latter category (Deuteronomy 7:13; 1 Samuel 17:15; 1 Samuel 25:2).

Israelites kept sheep mainly for their wool, which they used to make clothing (Genesis 38:13; Leviticus 13:47-48; Proverbs 27:26). Apart from those ceremonial sacrifices where worshippers ate the meat of the sheep in a ritual meal, Israelites killed sheep for meat only on special occasions (Leviticus 7:15; Deuteronomy 12:21; 1 Samuel 25:18; Amos 6:4; see also LAMB).

A well known characteristic of sheep was that they were easily led astray and soon became lost. Because of this, people who were easily led astray were sometimes likened to sheep (Isaiah 53:6; Matthew 10:6; Matthew 18:12). Sheep needed a shepherd to protect and lead them, and in the same way people need God to care for them and give them the right leadership in life (Numbers 27:17; Matthew 10:16; John 10:11; John 10:27; John 21:15-17; 1 Peter 5:1-4; see SHEPHERD).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Sheep'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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