From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

Sheep .

1 . tsôn , ‘small cattle,’ such as sheep and goats,   Genesis 4:2 etc.; a single sheep or goat,   Exodus 22:1 .   Exodus 22:2 . seh ,   Deuteronomy 14:4 etc., a sheep or goat; collectively, like 1, in   Isaiah 7:25 etc. 3 . ’ayil ,   Genesis 15:9 ‘ram.’ 4 . râchçl ,   Genesis 31:38;   Genesis 32:14 ,   Song of Solomon 6:6 etc., ‘ewe.’ See prop. name Rachel. 5 . kar ,   Deuteronomy 32:14 etc., ‘young lamb .’ 6 . kebes ,   Numbers 7:15 ,   Isaiah 5:17 , and keseb ,   Leviticus 3:7 , a lamb from one to three years old; the lamb of sacrifice. 7 . taleh (Arab. [Note: Arabic.] tully ),   1 Samuel 7:9 ,   Isaiah 40:11;   Isaiah 65:25 , a lamb, older than the preceding. 8 . ’immar ( Aram [Note: ram Aramaic.] . [Note: Aramaic.] ),   Ezra 6:9 ‘lamb.’ 9 . In   Genesis 33:19 AVm [Note: Authorized Version margin.] has ‘lambs’ as tr. [Note: translate or translation.] of qÄ•sîtâh . See Kesitah. 10 . (Gr.) amnos ,   John 1:29 etc., ‘lamb.’ 11 . arçn ,   Luke 10:3 etc., ‘lamb.’ 12 . arnion   Revelation 5:6 etc., the equivalent of Heb. keseb . 13 . Probaton ,   John 10:1-4 etc., a general term like Nos. 1 and 2 .

The common sheep of Palestine is the fat-tailed sheep ( Ovis aries , var. laticaudata ). The mass of tail-fat is sometimes enormous; it is the ‘whole rump’ (Heb. and Arab. [Note: Arabic.] ’alyâh ) of   Exodus 29:22 ,   Leviticus 3:9 etc. Sheep are usually pastured with goats except when the land is too rocky and harren for the former. The flock is led by the shepherd , though the shepherd’s boy may bring up the rear; on a journey a shepherd of experience must drive the flock (  Genesis 33:13 ), while another leads. When away from villages, the sheep are herded at night in folds , which are roughly made enclosures of piled-up stones; the shepherd lives in a cave or hut adjoining, and is in very intimate touch with his sheep, each of which he knows unfailingly at a glance. The skin of a sheep, roughly tanned with all the wool on, is the common wioter jacket ( furweh ) of a shepherd or peasant. To kill a sheep or lamh for a stranger’s meal is one of the first acts of Bedouin hospitality. In the country, sheep are killed only in such circumstances or in honour of some festive occasion (cf.   1 Samuel 25:18 ,   1 Kings 1:19 ).

E. W. G. Masterman.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [2]

Of the Syrian sheep, according to Dr. Russell, there are two varieties; the one called Bedaween sheep, which differ in no respect from the larger kinds of sheep among us, except that their tails are somewhat longer and thicker; the others are those often mentioned by travellers on account of their extraordinary tails; and this species is by far the most numerous. The tail of one of these animals is very broad and large, terminating in a small appendage that turns back upon it. It is of a substance between fat and marrow, and is not eaten separately, but mixed with the lean meat in many of their dishes, and also often used instead of butter. A common sheep of this sort, without the head, feet, skin, and entrails, weighs from sixty to eighty pounds, of which the tail itself is usually ten or fifteen pounds, and when the animal is fattened, twice or thrice that weight, and very inconvenient to its owner.

The sheep or lamb was the common sacrifice under the Mosaic law; and it is to be remarked, that when the divine legislator speaks of this victim, he never omits to appoint that the rump or tail be laid whole on the fire of the altar,  Exodus 29:22   Leviticus 3:9 . The reason for this is seen in the account just given from Dr. Russell; from which it appears that this was the most delicate part of the animal, and therefore the most proper to be presented in sacrifice to Jehovah.

The innocence, mildness, submission, and patience of the sheep or lamb, rendered it peculiarly sheep and lamb, rendered it peculiarly suitable for a sacrifice, and an appropriate type of the Lamb of God,  John 1:29 . A recent traveller in Palestine witnessed the shearing of a sheep in the immediate vicinity of Gethsemane; and the silent, unresisting submission of the poor animal, thrown with its feet bound upon the earth, its sides rudely pressed by the shearer's knees, while every movement threatened to lacerate the flesh, was a touching commentary on the prophet's description of Christ,  Isaiah 53:7   Acts 8:32-35 .

There are frequent allusions in Scripture to these characteristics of the sheep, and to its proneness to go astray,  Psalm 119:176   Isaiah 53:6 . It is a gregarious animal also; and as loving the companionship of the flock and dependant of the protection and guidance of its master, its name is often given to the people of God,  2 Kings 22:17   Psalm 79:13   80:1   Matthew 25:32 . Sheep and goats are still found in Syria feeding indiscriminately together, as in ancient times,  Genesis 30:35   Matthew 25:32,33 . The season of sheep shearing was one of great joy and festivity,  1 Samuel 25:5,8,36   2 Samuel 13:23 .

Sheep-cotes or folds, among the Israelites, appear to have been generally open houses, or enclosures walled round, often in front of rocky caverns, to guard the sheep from beasts of prey by night, and the scorching heat of noon,  Numbers 32:16   2 Samuel 7:8   Jeremiah 23:3,6   John 10:1-5 . See Shepherd .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Sheep. Sheep were an important part of the possessions of the ancient Hebrews and of eastern nations generally. The first mention of sheep occurs in  Genesis 4:2. They were used in the sacrificial offering, both the adult animal,  Exodus 20:24, and the lamb.  Exodus 29:28;  Leviticus 9:3;  Leviticus 12:6. Sheep and lambs formed an important article of food.  1 Samuel 25:18. The wool was used as clothing.  Leviticus 13:47. "Rams skins dyed red" were used as a covering for the Tabernacle.  Exodus 25:5. Sheep and lambs were sometimes paid as tribute.  2 Kings 3:4.

It is very striking to notice the immense numbers of sheep that were reared in Palestine in biblical times. (Chardin says he saw a clan of Turcoman shepherds whose flock consisted of 3,000,000 sheep and goats, besides 400,000 beasts of carriage, as horses, asses and camels). Sheep-sheering is alluded to  Genesis 31:19. Sheepdogs were employed in biblical times.  Job 30:1. Shepherds in Palestine and the East generally go before their flocks, which they induce to follow by calling to them, compare  John 10:4;  Psalms 77:20;  Psalms 80:1, though they also drive them.  Genesis 33:13.

The following quotation from Hartley's "Researches in Greece and the Levant," p. 321, is strikingly illustrative of the allusions in  John 10:1-16, "Having had my attention directed last night to the words in  John 10:3, I asked my man if it was usual in Greece to give names to the sheep. He informed me that it was, and that the sheep obeyed the shepherd when he called them by their names. This morning I had an opportunity of verifying the truth of this remark.

Passing by a flock of sheep, I asked the shepherd the same question which I had put to the servant, and he gave me the same answer. I then had him call one of his sheep. He did so, and it instantly left its pasturage and its companions, and ran up to the hands of the shepherd, with signs of pleasure and with a prompt obedience which I had never before observed in any other animal. It is also true in this country that a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him. The shepherd told me that many of his sheep were still wild, that they had not yet learned their names, but that by teaching them they would all learn them."

The common sheep, of Syria and Palestine are the broad-tailed. As the sheep is an emblem of meekness, patience and submission, it is expressly mentioned as typifying these qualities in the person of our blessed Lord.  Isaiah 53:7;  Acts 8:32; etc. The relation that exists between Christ , "the chief Shepherd," and his members is beautifully compared to that which in the East is so strikingly exhibited by the shepherds to their flocks. See Shepherd .

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [4]

1: Πρόβατον (Strong'S #4263 — Noun Neuter — probaton — prob'-at-on )

from probaino, "to go forward," i.e., of the movement of quadrupeds, was used among the Greeks of small cattle, sheep and goats; in the NT, of "sheep" only (a) naturally, e.g.,  Matthew 12:11,12; (b) metaphorically, of those who belong to the Lord, the lost ones of the house of Israel,  Matthew 10:6; of those who are under the care of the Good Shepherd, e.g.,  Matthew 26:31;  John 10:1 , lit., "the fold of the sheep," and  John 10:2-27;  21:16,17 in some texts;   Hebrews 13:20; of those who in a future day, at the introduction of the millennial kingdom, have shown kindness to His persecuted earthly people in their great tribulation,  Matthew 25:33; of the clothing of false shepherds,  Matthew 7:15; (c) figuratively, by way of simile, of Christ,  Acts 8:32; of the disciples, e.g.,  Matthew 10:16; of true followers of Christ in general,  Romans 8:36; of the former wayward condition of those who had come under His Shepherd care,  1—Peter 2:25; of the multitudes who sought the help of Christ in the days of His flesh,  Matthew 9:36;  Mark 6:34 .

2: Πρόβατον (Strong'S #4263 — Noun Neuter — probation — prob'-at-on )

a diminutive of No. 1, "a little sheep," is found in the best texts in  John 21:16,17 (some have No. 1); distinct from arnia, "lambs" (ver. 15), but used as a term of endearment.

 Luke 17:7Cattle.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [5]

Sheep, Shepherd .  Genesis 4:2;  Genesis 46:32. Sheep were used in the sacrificial offerings, both the adult animal,  Exodus 20:24, and the lamb.  Exodus 29:38;  Leviticus 9:3;  Leviticus 12:6. Sheep and lambs formed an important article of food.  1 Samuel 25:18. The wool was used as clothing.  Leviticus 13:47. "Rams' skins dyed red" were used as a covering for the tabernacle.  Exodus 25:5. Sheep and lambs were sometimes paid as tributes.  2 Kings 3:4. Sheep-shearing is alluded to.  Genesis 31:19. Sheep-dogs were employed in biblical times.  Job 30:1. Shepherds in Palestine and the East generally go before their flocks, calling to them, and the sheep follow; comp.  John 10:4;  Psalms 77:20;  Psalms 80:1, though they also drive them.  Genesis 33:13. Rev. John Hartley gives an illustration of  John 10:1-16 : " Having had my attention directed to  John 10:3, I asked a shepherd to call one of his sheep. He did so, and it instantly left its pasturage and its companions and ran up to the hands of the shepherd with signs of pleasure and with a prompt obedience which I had never before observed in any other animal. It is also true in this country that 'a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him.'" The common sheep of Syria and Palestine are the broad-tailed, which, when fattened, have tails of an enormous size. "I have seen many in Lebanon so heavy," says Dr. Thomson, "that the owners could not carry them without difficulty... The cooks use this mass of fat instead of Arab butter.... This is the 'rump' so often mentioned in the Levitical sacrifices, which was to be taken off hard by the backbone.  Exodus 29:22;  Leviticus 3:9;  Leviticus 7:3;  Leviticus 9:19. It is, in fact, not properly a tail, but a mass of mar row-like fat, which spreads over the whole rump of the sheep, and down the caudal extremity, till near the end." The shearing of the sheep was celebrated anciently, as often now, with much festivity.  Genesis 31:19;  Genesis 38:12-13;  1 Samuel 25:4-8;  1 Samuel 25:36;  2 Samuel 13:23-28.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [6]

 Genesis 4:2. Abounded in the pastures of Palestine. Shepherds go before them and call them by name to follow ( John 10:4;  Psalms 77:20;  Psalms 80:1). The ordinary sheep are the broad tailed sheep, and the Οvis Aries , like our own except that the tail is longer and thicker, and the ears larger; called Bedoween . Centuries B.C. Aristotle mentions Syrian sheep with tails a cubit wide. The fat tail is referred to in  Leviticus 3:9;  Leviticus 7:3. The Syrian cooks use the mass of fat instead of the rancid Arab butter.

The sheep symbolizes meekness, patience, gentleness, and submission ( Isaiah 53:7;  Acts 8:32). (See Lamb .) Τsown means sheep"; Ayil , the full-grown "ram," used for the male of other ruminants also; Rachel , the adult "ewe"; Kebes (masculine), Kibsah (feminine), the half grown lamb; Seh , "sheep" or paschal "lamb"; Char , "young ram"; Taleh , "sucking lamb"; 'Atod (Genesis 31 "ram") means "he-goat"; Imrin , "lambs for sacrifice."

The sheep never existed in a wild state, but was created expressly for man, and so was selected from the first for sacrifice. The image is frequent in Scripture: Jehovah the Shepherd, His people the flock ( Psalms 23:1;  Isaiah 40:11;  Jeremiah 23:1-2; Ezekiel 34). Sinners are the straying sheep whom the Good Shepherd came to save ( Psalms 119:176;  Isaiah 53:6;  Jeremiah 50:6;  Luke 15:4-6;  John 10:8;  John 10:11). False teachers are thieves and wolves in sheep's clothing ( Matthew 7:15). None can pluck His sheep from His hand and the Father's ( John 10:27-29).

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [7]

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 ).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [8]

שה , occurs frequently, and צאן , a general name for both sheep and goats, considered collectively in a flock, Arabic zain. The sheep is a well known animal. The benefits which mankind owe to it are numerous. Its fleece, its skin, its flesh, its tallow, and even its horns and bowels are articles of great utility to human life and happiness. Its mildness and inoffensiveness of temper strongly recommend it to human affection and regard; and have designated it the pattern and emblem of meekness, innocence, patience, and submission. It is a social animal. The flock follow the ram as their leader; who frequently displays the most impetuous courage in their defence: dogs, and even men, when attempting to molest them, have often suffered from his sagacious and generous valour. There are two varieties of sheep found in Syria. The first, called the "Bidoween sheep," differs little from the large breed among us, except that the tail is somewhat longer and thicker. The second is much more common, and is more valued on account of the extraordinary bulk of its tail, which has been remarked by all the eastern travellers. The carcass of one of these sheep, without including the head, feet, entrails, and skin, weighs from fifty to sixty pounds, of which the tail makes up fifteen pounds. Some of a larger size, fattened with care, will sometimes weigh one hundred and fifty pounds, the tail alone composing one third of the whole weight. It is of a substance between fat and marrow, and is not eaten separately, but mixed with the lean meat in many of their dishes, and often also used instead of butter. A reference to this part is made in   Exodus 29:22;  Leviticus 3:9; where the fat and the tail were to be burnt on the altar of sacrifice. Mr. Street considers this precept to have had respect to the health of the Israelites; observing that "bilious disorders are very frequent in hot countries; the eating of fat meat is a great encouragement and excitement to them; and though the fat of the tail is now considered as a delicacy, it is really unwholesome." The conclusion of the seventeenth verse, which is, "Ye shall eat neither fat nor blood," justifies this opinion. The prohibition of eating fat, that is of fat unmixed with the flesh, the omentum or caul, is given also,  Leviticus 7:23 .

Holman Bible Dictionary [9]

Ts'on Seh ts'on Kebes keseb Kibsah kisbah Tsoneh Ts'on ayil  Exodus 15:15 Ezekiel 17:13 Ezekiel 31:11 1 Kings 22:17 1 Chronicles 21:17 Psalm 44:11 44:22 Psalm 49:14 Psalm 78:52 Psalm 95:7 Psalm 100:3 Psalm 23:1 Psalm 144:13 Isaiah 7:21 Isaiah 53:6 Isaiah 53:7 Ezekiel 34:1  Matthew 12:12 ts'on  Matthew 25:1 Luke 15:1 John 10:1 John 21:1AgricultureCattleEconomic Life

Trent C. Butler

Morrish Bible Dictionary [10]

Sheep were bred in great numbers in Palestine, and formed a large part of the property of the Israelites. The species common there was the broad tailed sheep with horns ( Ovis laticaudatus and Ovis aries ). In Palestine they follow the shepherd and know his voice, and will not follow a stranger. Sheep and lambs were constantly offered in sacrifice. The morning and evening lamb and the passover lambs were all types of the sacred One who was called "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."

Symbolically sheep are figurative of mankind, as being prone to wander: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way."  Isaiah 53:6;  Luke 15:4-7 . The Lord said, "My sheep shall never perish." The Good Shepherd calls His own sheep by name, and when brought into His own company they have perfect security, liberty, and sustenance.  John 10:9 . The Lord led His sheep out of the Jewish fold: these were united with His 'other sheep' (Gentile believers), that they all should become 'one flock' with one Shepherd.  John 10:3,16 . In the future judgement of the nations, those saved are called 'sheep,' in distinction from the lost, who are called 'goats.'  Matthew 25:31-46 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [11]

 Psalm 23:1,2 74:1 77:20 Isaiah 40:11 53:6 John 10:1-5,7-16

"The sheep of Palestine are longer in the head than ours, and have tails from 5 inches broad at the narrowest part to 15 inches at the widest, the weight being in proportion, and ranging generally from 10 to 14 lbs., but sometimes extending to 30 lbs. The tails are indeed huge masses of fat" (Geikie's Holy Land, etc.). The tail was no doubt the "rump" so frequently referred to in the Levitical sacrifices ( Exodus 29:22;  Leviticus 3:9;  7:3;  9:19 ). Sheep-shearing was generally an occasion of great festivity ( Genesis 31:19;  38:12,13;  1 Samuel 25:4-8,36;  2 Samuel 13:23-28 ).

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [12]

 Psalm 95:7 (a) GOD's people in their deep poverty and need must come constantly and frequently to the Lord to receive their sustenance and to enjoy His fellowship.

 Psalm 100:3 (a) GOD's people who dwell together in His fold, the church, rejoice in His goodness and continue in fellowship with one another, and with every need supplied.

 Isaiah 53:7 (a) Here is a type of Jesus brought in weakness before those who were to torment Him and kill Him. He permitted them to do as they pleased with Him.

King James Dictionary [13]

SHEEP, n. sing. and plu.

1. An animal of the genus Ovis, which is one of the most useful species that the Creator has bestowed upon man, and its wool constitutes a principal material of warm clothing, and its flesh is a great article of fool. The sheep is remarkable for its harmless temper ant its tmidity. the varieties are numerous. 2. In contempt, a silly fellow. 3. Figuratively, God's people are called sheep, as being under the government and protection of Christ, the great Shepherd.

Webster's Dictionary [14]

(1): ( n. sing. & pl.) Any one of several species of ruminants of the genus Ovis, native of the higher mountains of both hemispheres, but most numerous in Asia.

(2): ( n. sing. & pl.) A weak, bashful, silly fellow.

(3): ( n. sing. & pl.) Fig.: The people of God, as being under the government and protection of Christ, the great Shepherd.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [15]

See Lamb

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

Fig. 317—Syrian Sheep

The normal animal, from which all or the greater part of the western domestic races of sheep are assumed to be descended, is still found wild in the high mountain regions of Persia, and is readily distinguished from two other wild species bordering on the same region. What breeds the earliest shepherd tribes reared in and about Palestine can now be only inferred from negative characters; yet they are sufficient to show that they were the same, or nearly so, as the common horned variety of Egypt and continental Europe: in general white, and occasionally black, although there was on the upper Nile a speckled race; and so early as the time of Aristotle the Arabians possessed a rufous breed, another with a very long tail, and above all a broad-tailed sheep, which at present is commonly denominated the Syrian. Flocks of the ancient breed, derived from the Bedouins, are now extant in Syria, with little or no change in external characters, chiefly the broad-tailed and the common horned white, often with black and white about the face and feet, the tail somewhat thicker and longer than the European. The others are chiefly valued for the fat of their broad tails, which tastes not unlike marrow; for the flesh of neither race is remarkably delicate, nor are the fleeces of superior quality. Sheep in the various conditions of existence wherein they would occur among a pastoral and agricultural people, are noticed in numerous places of the Bible, and furnish many beautiful allegorical images, where purity, innocence, mildness, and submission are portrayed—the Savior himself being denominated 'the Lamb of God,' in twofold allusion to his patient meekness, and to his being the true paschal lamb, 'slain from the foundation of the world' . Some commentators affirm that the Hebrew word kesitah, which occurs only in , and , and is in the Authorized Version rendered money, literally means sheep or lambs, and should be so translated. Others, with greater probability, suppose that it refers to a piece of coined money bearing the figure of a sheep; and it is certain that Phoenicia had sheep actually impressed on a silver coin.

Fig. 318—Supposed Kesitah

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [17]

shēp  :

1. Names:

The usual Hebrew word is צאן , cō'n , which is often translated "flock," e.g. "Abel ... brought of the firstlings of his flock" (  Genesis 4:4 ); "butter of the herd, and milk of the flock" ( Deuteronomy 32:14 ). The King James Version and the English Revised Version have "milk of sheep." Compare Arabic ḍa'n . The Greek word is πρόβατον , próbaton . For other names, see notes under Cattle; Ewe; Lamb; Ram .

2. Zoology:

The origin of domestic sheep is unknown. There are 11 wild species, the majority of which are found in Asia, and it is conceivable that they may have spread from the highlands of Central Asia to the other portions of their habitat. In North America is found the "bighorn," which is very closely related to a Kamschatkan species. One species, the urial or sha , is found in India. The Barbary sheep, Ovis tragelaphus , also known as the aoudad or arui, inhabits the Atlas Mountains of Northwest Africa. It is thought by Tristram to be zemer , English Versions of the Bible "chamois" of   Deuteronomy 14:5 , but there is no good evidence that this animal ranges eastward into Bible lands. Geographically nearest is the Armenian wild sheep, Ovis gmelini , of Asia Minor and Persia. The Cyprian wild sheep may be only a variety of the last, and the mouflon of Corsica and Sardinia is an allied species. It is not easy to draw the line between wild sheep and wild goats. Among the more obvious distinctions are the chin beard and strong odor of male goats. The pelage of all wild sheep consists of hair, not wool, and this indeed is true of some domestic sheep as the fat-rumped short-tailed sheep of Abyssinia and Central Asia. The young lambs of this breed have short curly wool which is the astrachan of commerce. Sheep are geologically recent, their bones and teeth not being found in earlier deposits than the pleiocene or pleistocene. They were, however, among the first of domesticated animals.

3. Sheep of Palestine:

The sheep of Syria and Palestine are characterized by the possession of an enormous fat tail which weighs many pounds and is known in Arabic as 'alyat , or commonly, lı̄yat . This is the אליה , 'alyāh , "fat tail" (the King James Version "rump") (  Exodus 29:22;  Leviticus 3:9;  Leviticus 7:3;  Leviticus 8:25;  Leviticus 9:19 ), which was burned in sacrifice. This is at the present day esteemed a great delicacy. Sheep are kept in large numbers by the Bedouin, but a large portion of the supply of mutton for the cities is from the sheep of Armenia and Kurdistan, of which great droves are brought down to the coast in easy stages. Among the Moslems every well-to-do family sacrifices a sheep at the feast of al - 'adḥa' , the 10th day of the month dhû - l - ḥijjat , 40 days after the end of ramaḍân , the month of fasting. In Lebanon every peasant family during the summer fattens a young ram, which is literally crammed by one of the women of the household, who keeps the creature's jaw moving with one hand while with the other she stuffs its mouth with vine or mulberry leaves. Every afternoon she washes it at the village fountain. When slaughtered in the fall it is called ma‛lûf , "fed," and is very fat and the flesh very tender. Some of the meat and fat are eaten at once, but the greater part, fat and lean, is cut up fine, cooked together in a large vessel with pepper and salt, and stored in an earthen jar. This, the so-called ḳauramat , is used as needed through the winter.

In the mountains the sheep are gathered at night into folds, which may be caves or enclosures of rough stones. Fierce dogs assist the shepherd in warding off the attacks of wolves, and remain at the fold through the day to guard the slight bedding and simple utensils. In going to pasture the sheep are not driven but are led, following the shepherd as he walks before them and calls to them. "When he hath put forth all his own, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice" ( John 10:4 ).

4. Old Testament References:

The sheepfolds of Reuben on the plain of Gilead are referred to in  Numbers 32:16 and   Judges 5:16 . A cave is mentioned in  1 Samuel 24:3 in connection with the pursuit of David by Saul. The shepherd origin of David is referred to in   Psalm 78:70 :

"He chose David also his servant,

And took him from the sheepfolds."

Compare also  2 Samuel 7:8 and   1 Chronicles 17:7 .

The shearing of the sheep was a large operation and evidently became a sort of festival. Absalom invited the king's sons to his sheep-shearing in Baal-hazor in order that he might find an opportunity to put Amnon to death while his heart was "merry with wine" ( 2 Samuel 13:23-29 ). The character of the occasion is evident also from the indignation of David at Nabal when the latter refused to provide entertainment at his sheep-shearing for David's young men who had previously protected the flocks of Nabal ( 1 Samuel 25:2-13 ). There is also mention of the sheep-shearing of Judah ( Genesis 38:12 ) and of Laban ( Genesis 31:19 ), on which occasion Jacob stole away with his wives and children and his flocks.

Sheep were the most important sacrificial animals, a ram or a young male being often specified. Ewes are mentioned in  Leviticus 3:6;  Leviticus 4:32;  Leviticus 5:6;  Leviticus 14:10;  Leviticus 22:28;  Numbers 6:14 .

In the Books of Chronicles we find statements of enormous numbers of animals consumed in sacrifice: "And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep" ( 2 Chronicles 7:5 ); "And they sacrificed unto Yahweh in that day (in the reign of Asa) hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep" ( 2 Chronicles 15:11 ); at the cleansing of the temple by Hezekiah "the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep. But the priests were too few, so that they could not flay all the burnt-offerings: wherefore their brethren the Levites did help them" ( 2 Chronicles 29:33 f); and "Hezekiah king of Judah did give to the assembly for offerings a thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep; and the princes gave to the assembly a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep" (  2 Chronicles 30:24 ). In the account of the war of the sons of Reuben and their allies with the Hagrites, we read: "And they took away their cattle; of their camels fifty thousand, and of sheep two hundred and fifty thousand, and of asses two thousand, and of men a hundred thousand" ( 1 Chronicles 5:21 ). Mesha king of Moab is called a "sheep-master," and we read that "he rendered unto the king of Israel the wool of a hundred thousand lambs, and of a hundred thousand rams" ( 2 Kings 3:4 ).

5. Figurative:

Christ is represented as the Lamb of God ( Isaiah 53:7;  John 1:29;  Revelation 5:6 ). Some of the most beautiful passages in the Bible represent God as a shepherd: "From thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel" ( Genesis 49:24 ); "Yahweh is my shepherd; I shall not want" ( Psalm 23:1; compare  Isaiah 40:11;  Ezekiel 34:12-16 ). Jesus said "I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own, and mine own know me ... and I lay down my life for the sheep" ( John 10:14 f). The people without leaders are likened to sheep without a shepherd (  Numbers 27:17;  1 Kings 22:17;  2 Chronicles 18:16;  Ezekiel 34:5 ). Jesus at the Last Supper applies to Himself the words of  Zechariah 13:7; "I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad" ( Matthew 26:31;  Mark 14:27 ). The enemies of Yahweh are compared to the fat of the sacrifice that is consumed away in smoke ( Psalm 37:20 ). God's people are "the sheep of his pasture" ( Psalm 79:13;  Psalm 95:7;  Psalm 100:3 ). In sinning they become like lost sheep ( Isaiah 53:6;  Jeremiah 50:6;  Ezekiel 34:6;  Luke 15:3 ff). In the mouth of Nathan the poor man's one little ewe lamb is a vivid image of the treasure of which the king David has robbed Uriah the Hittite (  2 Samuel 12:3 ). In  Song of Solomon 6:6 , the teeth of the bride are likened to a flock of ewes. It is prophesied that "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" ( Isaiah 11:6 ) and that "the wolf and the lamb shall feed together" ( Isaiah 65:25 ). Jesus says to His disciples, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves" ( Matthew 10:16; compare  Luke 10:3 ). In the parable of the Good Shepherd we read: "He that is a hireling, and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, beholdeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth" ( John 10:12 ).