The Shepherd Motif in the Old and New Testament
Mary Beth Gladwell
The motif of the shepherd is found throughout the scripture. In the Old Testament God has words of strong rebuke and warning for bad shepherds, and prophecies of a good shepherd that is to come. In the New Testament, Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd and we find in the epistles the notion of good shepherding extended to those who would lead in the church.
This paper will attempt to explore the shepherding motif in some detail. In specific it will answer the following three questions: Why might have God chosen to use this particular image? What are the characteristics of a good shepherd? Who is the Shepherd that is to come referred to in the Old Testament?
Why the Image of the Shepherd?
The idea of shepherding, and in specific the idea of God acting as the Shepherd of His people, is a motif found throughout the Bible, from beginning to end. In Genesis 48:15, as Jacob, on his deathbed summarized his life, he declared that God had been his “shepherd all of his life to this day.” In Revelation 7:17, when the saints who come out of the tribulation are brought before God, John brings together two of the most striking images of the scripture by stating, "for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eye.”
While perhaps not found with as much frequency as other motifs in the Bible, the theme of the shepherd is very significant. It appears at critical times in the narrative of the history of God’s people, and hardly another motif is as rich in content.
Why did God choose to include this motif as part of His revelation to man? Scripture itself does not give a direct explanation, so the answer cannot be definitive. However, there would appear to be several good reasons. Shepherding was, and still is to a certain extent, a very common occupation for those in the Middle East. The Patriarchs were all shepherds, as was Moses and of course David. (It was to shepherds in the field that the news of the birth of Christ was first revealed!) The terrain and geography of the area lend itself to the raising of both sheep and goats, but in particular sheep. There is scarcity of grass and less than abundant sources of water. Sheep are moved from one area to another with relative ease and require less water than other domestic animals. Everyone was familiar with shepherding --- to say the people to whom the scriptures were first written had a working knowledge of the concept would indeed be an understatement.
However, it may be most noteworthy to realize that leaders and rulers being called shepherds was not exclusive to the Bible or for that matter to the nation of Israel. King Hammurabi of Babylon called himself a shepherd1, and Homer regularly styles the Greek chiefs as shepherds of their people.2 In fact, history has shown, “from ancient antiquity rulers were described as demonstrating their legitimacy to rule by their ability to ‘pasture’ their people.”3 This makes sense then of verses like those found in Jer. 49:19 and 50:44, where God asks, “who is the shepherd who can stand against me?” In this connection, the royal staff, or scepter, a common accessory for kings in the Ancient Near East, was itself a form of shepherd’s rod. Shepherds commonly used long poles such as these to poke around crevices in caves to scare out scorpions and snakes.4 It came to be a symbol of protection, power and authority. Even in Egypt, a divine symbol of kingship was the shepherd’s crook.5 It is true that the idea of shepherd as leader was not exclusive to the Bible. However, what we will find is that God as the ultimate shepherd of His people takes this concept to a level not present in other cultures.
As we look at the characteristics of a good shepherd it will become clear that God chose this motif at least in part because His people are so apt to act like sheep. Scriptures like Is. 53:6 remind us over and over again that God’s people and sheep are very much alike and the connection is most often negative. “Sheep are not only dependent creatures; singularly unintelligent, prone to wandering and unable to find their way to a shepherd even when it is in sight.”6 The analogy is fitting. It is clear, because of our helplessness and our tendency to wander and get lost we are in need of a Good Shepherd.
The Characteristics of a Good Shepherd
The Bible sketches out in great detail what a good shepherd would look like both in the Psalms and in the words of Christ himself. However, before turning to these descriptions it will be beneficial to consider in the broadest terms what the focus of a leader of God’s people should be, and in specific how the poor leaders of Israel failed in this regard.
The focus of a good shepherd was to be on his flock--their provision, guidance and safety. The epitome of the bad shepherds, in Ezekiel’s expose of Israel’s leaders of his day (34:1-6), sketches out in vivid terms, what it looked like when leaders failed to provide this care. These leaders were slaughtering their sheep for their own gain rather than feeding them. (This calls to mind the hireling of John 10:10, who comes only to steal, kill and destroy and also of Jesus’scathing rebuke of the Pharisees in Matthew 23.) Rather than caring for the flock, they treated them with “force and severity”. (vs.4) Perhaps Ezekiel’s greatest rebuke was for their lack of guidance. This is emphasized here (and in other passages). Three times he mentions that the sheep are scattered. They were lost, became prey for every beast and had no one to search or seek them. (vs.6) Jeremiah, in his judgment of the leaders of Israel took this notion on step further, connecting a lack of spirituality on the leaders part with the scattering of the sheep. In Jer. 10:21 he states, no doubt in reference to the captivity of Judah, “For the shepherds have become stupid, and have not sought the Lord; Therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered.”
Knowing that the bad shepherd fails to provide for the sheep, protect the sheep and guide the sheep, the picture of the good shepherd laid out in scripture comes into clearer view. The most famous description of the good shepherd, and perhaps one of the most well known passages in the Bible, is Psalm 23. These lines were penned by David, not a theoretician when it came to sheep and their welfare, but a proven shepherd. (David’s ability as a shepherd was clearly connected with God using him to masterfully lead Israel. In Psalm 78:70-72 we read, “ He also chose Davis His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds; From the care of the ewes with sucking lambs He brought him, To shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them with his skillful hands.”) Entire books have been written detailing the work and nature of the shepherd in Psalm 23. What follows attempts to highlight some of the more important points of the shepherd’s provision for his flock.
The good shepherd provides nourishment and refreshment for his sheep. In verse 2 we are told he causes the sheep to lie down in green pastures. This indicates a place to rest but also a supply of food on hand. Also present is water that is welcoming in addition to refreshing. This met a critical need due to the shortage of water in the region as already pointed out.
Later in the Psalm David conveys the idea of abundant provision in yet another way. He speaks of a table being set, his cup overflowing, and his head being anointed with oil. Bedouin hospitality often called for just such a lavish response to a guest, and the anointing with oil was a symbol of lavish generosity and goodness on behalf of a hostess for their guest. (Ecclesiastes 9:8) David points out that the skilled shepherd MAKES them lie down (vs.2), LEADS them (vs.2) and GUIDES them (vs.3). He provides guidance which is so critical for sheep that are by their nature apt to stray or wander into danger because they are so helpless. This was a critical aspect of leadership and the very reason given for Joshua being appointed to carry on for Moses in Numbers 27:15 –17. It is interesting to note that David is aware that the shepherd provides in this way not because of the inherent worthiness of the sheep, but because of the reputation of the shepherd. Also, the picture here is of the shepherd leading the way. Sheep in the East are not driven like in the West due to differences in the terrain. For the most part, in the East the shepherd goes ahead of the sheep, choosing the way to go.
Not only did the shepherd provide nourishment and direction, but David goes out of his way in the Psalm to convey the idea of the shepherd providing safety and protection. Sheep are extremely skittish and fearful, but the shepherd was equipped to protect the sheep. The rod, which was more of a club, was use to ward off wild animals and robbers. The staff, as we have seen already was used to protect form scorpions and snakes. As a result the sheep were safe, even walking through the valley of the Shadow of Death--literally the valley of deepest darkness. ( The shepherd himself is able to enjoy a banquet in the presence of his enemies too, vs.5.) Isaiah understood this about the good shepherd as well. In Is.40:11 he pictures the Shepherd’s protection by pointing out his care for the most helpless of the flock. The newborn and the nursing mothers with young are the members most vulnerable to attack. “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs, and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.”
In Jesus’ description of Himself in John 10 he adds to our understanding of what makes for a good shepherd. The good shepherd is sacrificial. He is willing to ignore his own needs in order to meet the needs of the sheep. Over and over in the passage he states the good shepherd gives his own life for his sheep. (vs.11, 15, 17, 18) In addition to this, though, Jesus’ audience understood the sacrificial nature of the shepherd in His discussion of the sheepfold. When sheep were penned in at night outside the city, the shepherd himself would often construct a makeshift fold. He would take brush and bushes and construct them in a “u” shape or some other formation depending on what was already at hand. He would then place thorny branches on top of the brush to both inhibit the sheep from jumping out and from wild animals and thieves jumping into the enclosure to hurt or kill the sheep. (Robbers would accomplish their goal by climbing over the enclosure, slitting the throat of the sheep and heaving the body/ bodies over the wall. This helps explain John 10:1.) The only way in and out of the fold was through a space he would leave open. The shepherd himself would actually lie across the opening, becoming the door in and out of the sheepfold. The shepherd’s own comfort and sleep were secondary to the comfort and safety of the sheep. Additionally, we know too from the story told in Luke 15 that a worthy shepherd indeed does go and search for a lost sheep. He is willing to make this effort unlike the worthless shepherds already mentioned who allow the sheep to wander and be preyed upon. Jesus finalizes the notion of the sheeps’ security by stating in John 10:28,29 that with Him they are eternally secure.
The other characteristic of the good shepherd Jesus makes crystal clear in his discussion of the topic in John 10, is that the good shepherd is personally, if not intimately involved with all his sheep. His closeness with the individual sheep is clear in vs. 3 when it says he calls them by name. From Nathan’s story in 2 Samuel12, we know that sheep were sometimes given the status of pet. In fact, so close were the shepherd with their flock that one shepherd is reported to been able to tell which lamb went with which nursing mother in the dark by merely feeling it’s head!7The shepherd is also involved enough with his flock that they know his voice. In this day multiple flocks would sometimes be brought into the sheepfold for the night. The next day each shepherd in turn would stand in the middle of the fold and call his own out. It was not a matter of the exact call or words used, but the sheep responded primarily to the distinct tone of the shepherd’s voice.
In summary, the good shepherd showed great concern for his sheep. He provided for them in terms of nourishment and rest. He guided them, leading the way. He was intimately involved with the flock and concerned for the safety of each individual. He was willing to sacrifice his own comfort, even his own life, for the sake of his sheep.
This is the kind of love and care with which God wanted His rulers to lead Israel in the Old Testament, and the writers of the New Testament have much of this in mind when it comes to leadership in the church. It was in this context that Jesus challenged Peter to prove his love after his betrayal. After each admission of love on Peter’s part Jesus said, “Tend My lambs” John 21:15, “Shepherd my sheep” vs.16, and “Tend my sheep” vs.17. Peter charges the elders at the churches in present day Asia Minor to “shepherd the flock of God among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3)
Understanding the level of love, commitment and sacrifice expended by the shepherd on behalf of the sheep raises the bar for those who seek to lead in the church.
As mentioned earlier, the record of this kind of leadership in the Old Testament was abysmal, with the exception of David and a few others. Israel’s leaders failed to be shepherds of this description. As a result prophets in the Old Testament looked forward to a time when a truly good shepherd would come. In the next section we will explore who that person would be and when He would come.
The Identity of the Shepherd in Old Testament Prophecy and When He Would Come
There are numbers of passages in the OT that make reference to a shepherd who is to come and who is to play a significant role in the history of Israel. In the case of Isaiah 44:28 the shepherd is actually named--Cyrus. In the remaining passages, the identity of the shepherd is unknown. In this section of the paper we will explore the major passages in the scripture that deal with the shepherd where his identity is unknown. Most passages that refer to the coming shepherd are clear as to this person being the Messiah. What is not as clear is when He will come and what He will do at that time. Where appropriate, we will investigate what meaning these passages had for their original audience and what they might mean for us today. We will also look at Ezekiel 34: 23, where there is some controversy concerning the shepherd’s identity. Here we will argue that the person of the shepherd is the Messiah.
Most passages referring to the coming shepherd are connected with the ultimate restoration of Israel which will take place at Christ’s Second Coming. One of the most striking of these predictions is Isaiah 40:11. In the midst of the warning about the coming hardship of captivity, Isaiah lifts the eyes of his countrymen to a time when God will fully restore all things. The global scope of the language, “Let every valley be lifted up…that the glory of the Lord will be revealed” argues for a time frame of the Second Coming. According to vs.10, at this time He is coming in judgment and might; “Behold, the Lord God will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold His reward is with Him, And His recompense before Him.” However, Isaiah goes out of his way in the next verse to picture God in the most tender and nurturing terms. “Like a shepherd he will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs, And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” Provision and care are inherent in this image of the ruling shepherd who is to come. This would not be missed by Isaiah’s audience. In chapter 49:8-10 Isaiah expands on this same theme, although not actually using the term shepherd. “Thus says the Lord, ‘In a favorable time I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages; Saying to those who are bound, Go Forth, To those who are in darkness, Show Yourselves, Along the roads they will feed, And their pasture will be on all bare heights. They will not hunger or thirst, Neither will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them, And will guide them to springs of water.” Isaiah’s sees a time when the Lord of Hosts will appear as judge, which is a time to be feared especially for the enemies of His people. Yet because the nurturing care of His flock, a time to be anticipated with excitement as well. No doubt these words were words of comfort to Isaiah’s audience as they headed into a dark time. These words should be a comfort for us as well as we too wait for the Judge and Shepherd to return.
In Jeremiah 31:10-17 we find an emphasis not on a future Messiah coming as shepherd, but on God’s omniscience over the events in Israel’s history. Jeremiah declares, “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations. And declare in the coastlands afar off , And say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’” vs.10 God oversaw and allowed the scattering of His people for their disobedience, and in His omniscience He will bring them back. Again, scripture connects the scattering of God’s flock as a hurtful and damaging thing. His promise to bring them back together, restoring them to the land, which He did in part in after the Babylonian captivity, conveyed great comfort to His people then in exile. They did not get where they were by accident, and the same God who scattered His people would see that they came back together. This truth, that God oversees and directs history (in a broad sense) should be a comfort to us as well. This is a passage that is typical of many prophecies in the Old Testament. It was fulfilled in part with the return of Judah to the land after the Babylonian captivity. It was further fulfilled when modern day Israel was restored to the land in 1948, and it will be completely fulfilled (to the top of the cup) when Christ comes back to establish His kingdom once and for all.
In Micah 5:2-5a we find another reference to the future shepherd of Israel. Here we see elements of the prophesy fulfilled at the first coming of Christ, but other aspects that will be completed at His second coming. Bethlehem is mentioned as the place where a ruler of Israel will go forth. Matthew 2:5-6 saw this fulfilled in Christ’s first coming. In vs.4 it states “And He will arise and shepherd His flock, In the strength of the Lord, In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God. And they will remain, Because at that time He will be great.” The language here suggests the global knowledge of Christ which will take place at His Second Coming. (Micah goes on to speak of the global peace Israel will experience at that time as well.) Again, these words were words of comfort to Micah’s audience, especially in view of the failure of the nation’s leaders of that day to properly care for their flock. The triumphal language that follows (vs.5-9) provided great comfort for Micah’s hearers as well. The church today, though not in the same situation can look forward to living in a state where our shepherd will at last “be great to the ends of the earth” and that “He will be our peace.”
When it comes to Zechariah’s mention of the shepherd to come, the line between fulfillment at Christ’s first and Second Coming becomes even more blurred. Zechariah’s prophecies are largely concerned with events at the end of history and the Second Coming of Christ. His imagery is often apocalyptic in nature and difficult to interpret. However, the gospel writers saw some of the events foreshadowed there as having to do with Christ’s first coming. For example, in the very complicated passage of Zechariah 11:11-12, the speaker (the true shepherd?) asks for his wages. He receives 30 pieces of silver, which God then tells him to throw to the potter (a gesture of disdain and disregard.) Some see this prophecy fulfilled in Matt. 26:14-16, when Judas betrayed Christ. Matthew carefully points out the exact price of his betrayal. Likewise in Zechariah 13:7-9 there is mention of the sheep being scattered when the shepherd is struck down. Matthew 26:31 saw the fulfillment of this in the disciples’ forsaking Christ the night He was arrested. Out of context this interpretation may seem a very clear fit. However in context it is not so clear. Just prior to the scattering of the sheep, it refers to the awakening of a "sword against God’s Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate". (!!) (Some believe this last person referenced to be the Anti-Christ!) The verse ends with a remnant declaring, “The Lord is my God”. Is this the remnant gathered together at Christ’s Second Coming? These passages seem particularly unclear in terms of the time of the Shepherd’s coming or what He will do, and yet the gospel writers view them as at least fulfilled in part in Jesus’s lifetime.
Perhaps the most interesting of the OT prophecies concerning the shepherd of the future is in Ezekiel 34. After Ezekiel extensively rebukes the shepherds of Israel for their abysmal failure to lead the people as God would have them, (vs.1-10), God interjects an unmistakable ray of hope. He says, (vs.11) “I myself will search for my sheep and seek them out.” He then goes on in beautiful imagery to paint the picture of the Good Shepherd searching for and restoring the lost and scattered sheep. He will return them to the land and feed them on the mountains of Israel. (vs.13-14) He will bind up the broken and strengthen the sick, but at the same time will come with judgment. (vs.16) In vs.17-19 we see He will execute judgment not only on the leaders, but also on individual members of the flock, some of whom have demonstrated the same self interest as the leaders. (vs.12) There is total restoration of the nation of Israel and they enter in to a time of abundance and blessing. (vs. 25-31) This would appear, quite clearly, to be a prediction of the Second Coming of Christ and the final restoration of the true Israel. However, in vs. 23 and 24 we read ‘Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.” The mention here of David, for some is particularly controversial. Rather than the shepherd being Christ, they see David as God’s shepherd, servant and prince. “However, nothing in Ezekiel 34:23 demands that Ezekiel was not referring to the literal King David who will be resurrected to serve as Israel’s righteous prince.”8 They argue that later in Ezekiel 37:34-35 there is mention again of David. Here he is king and prince forever. David appears in the future predictions of Jeremiah 30:9 and Hosea 3:5. In Ezekiel 45:22, and 45:4 there is mention of sin offerings taking place in the millennium. These scholars (Walvoord) argue that it would be inappropriate for Jesus to offer such sacrifices, but appropriate for David the prince. From these lines of reason the conclusion is drawn that the shepherd mentioned here is not Christ but a literal resurrected David.
Aside from the obvious problem of dealing with Jesus Himself claiming to be the Good Shepherd, (and the writers of the NT agreeing with Him as in 1 Peter 2:25, Hebrews 13:20 etc.) this conclusion ignores the marvelously deliberate and intricate way the scripture identifies Jesus with David. The promise to David from earliest times was that His descendent would be on the throne of Israel forever, not David himself. There is an eternal aspect to the kingship of David’s line that he humanly could never fulfill. However, it was understood by all, including David himself that God would establish one of his descendants to sit on the throne eternally. Jesus was that descendent. Matthew’s gospel from chapter 1 onward strives to make that point. Over and over again he refers to Jesus as the Son of David. The Jews knew the Messiah had to be a son of David. This causes them to ask in Matthew 12:23 “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” The answer to that question, though they didn’t believe it was “YES”. Jesus was the great and final descendant of David. Paul in trying to persuade the Jews that Christ was the Messiah makes this argument in Acts 13:23 and again in 13:34-36. Peter too points out that Jesus was in fact the son of David promised in the scripture. Acts 2:21-36 Jesus boldly asserts that not only is He the offspring of David, the very one that David anticipated, but He was God at the same time. Matthew 22:43, Mark 12:35, Luke 20:42 all record Jesus forcing the Jews to think through His identity by considering what David says in Psalm 110. How like God to so fantastically tie Jesus in with the line of David to fulfill that promise to sit on the throne forever. How like God it is that He Himself, not a resurrected David, is the Good Shepherd and as the Good Shepherd the final king for His people. This was always His desire. He allowed for a human king as a concession to his rebellious children, (1 Samuel 8:7) but it was His desire to rule and care for His children from the beginning.
Walvoord also argues that David, not Christ will preside over sacrifice in the Millennial Kingdom. The problem with this argument has more to do with the nature of the Kingdom to come than who is officiating as priest. The true question concerns the idea of sacrifice for sin in the Millennial Kingdom. Why would God bring back a system that he declared insufficient and obsolete over and over in the book of Hebrews? Why would it be reinstated after hundreds of years? It seems to make no sense. All other authors of the scripture speak metaphorically when referring to the kingdom to come. It is very hard to understand why Ezekiel alone would describe it in literal terms. It is not hard to understand, though, that the exiled priests who made up part of Ezekiel’s audience would view the return of the sacrificial system as part of that which God would ultimately restore. This was no doubt something they longed for in their years of captivity. Ezekiel, again in speaking words of comfort to the people of his day could have included notions of the sacrificial system in his depiction of the kingdom to come.
In conclusion, it would seem that this passage in Ezekiel, like the others, looks forward to the coming of the Messiah, not David as the Good Shepherd of his people. As was the case with the other references to His coming to regather and care for his sheep, God intended to give hope and encouragement to the people of Ezekiel’s day. Knowing that a day would come when God would “feed His flock and lead them to rest” (Ezekiel 34:15) was meant to bring them comfort in a day when they were cut off from their land, and seemingly cut off from their God. In the midst of the darkness God wanted them not to despair, but to know He had great plans for them. (Jeremiah 29:11)
The final prophecy of the shepherd to be considered is Matthew 25:32-34. “And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and he will separate from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; And He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.” In this passage the shepherd goes on to direct the sheep (the righteous-vs.37, 46) to the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world, and the goats, to eternal punishment. The metaphor here relates to the fact that often a shepherd tended a mixed flock of both sheep and goats. (In a similar way we say judgment between individual sheep, as well as between sheep and goats in Ezekiel 34.) There were times when the two groups needed to be separated. This was a common part of the shepherding job, clearly understood by Jesus’ audience. These passages teach that the Good Shepherd will come to judge between individuals at the end of the age. For those who are His, these were meant to be words of comfort. For those who were not, words of great sobriety.
In conclusion, the OT scripture does look forward to the coming of the Good Shepherd. As God’s Messiah, Jesus fulfilled this prophetic role in some measure in His first coming. He will complete it in His second coming, however, when He will come in judgment to separate the righteous from those who did not know Him, and to finally care for and lead those that are His own.
Davis, John J. The Perfect Shepherd; Studies in the 23 Psalm. Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, Michigan; 1979.
Elison, H.C. Ezekiel: The Man and His Message: Paternoster Press; London, 1956.
Habershon, Ada R. Study of the Types: Kiegel Publications; Grand rapids, Michigan, 1974.
Harris, R. Laird. Theological Wordbook of OT Vol. 2: Moody Press, Chicago, 1980.
Leupold, H.C. Exposition of Zechariah: Wartburg Press; Columbus, Ohio, 1956.
Ryker, Leland. Dictionary of Biblical Images: Intervarsity Press; Downers Grove, Ill. 1998.
Walvoord, John F. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Victor Books; Wheaton, Ill. 1985.
Wight, Fred H. Manners and Customs of Bible Lands: Moody Press; Chicago, 1953.
Wright, G. Ernest. The Old Testament Against It's Environment: SCM Press; London, 1954.
1. Davis, John J. The Perfect Shepherd;Studies in the 23 Psalm: Baker Book House; Grand Rapids Michigan, 1979. Pg.51
2. Wade, G.W. The Books of Micah, Obadiah, Joel and Jonah: Methuen 7 Co. LTD; London, 1925. Pg.42
3. Harris, R. Laird. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Vol.2: Moody Press; Chicago, 1980. Pg. 853
4. Davis, John J. The Perfect Shepherd; Studies in the 23 Psalm: Baker House; Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1979. Pg.100
5. Ibid. Pg. 51
6. Ryker, Leland. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., 1998. Pg. 782
7. Wight, Fred H. Manners and Customs of Bible Lands: Moody Press; Chicago, 1953. Pg.159
8. Walvoord, John F. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Victor Press; Wheaton, Ill., 1985. Pg.1295