Jews were not shephards

I heard on a LCMS radio that the pharisees would not keep fish or sheep.

Is that correct?


I would think that the Jewish society was composed of a mixture of trades:
Agricultors, herders, fishermen, carpenters ;), mercants, etc same as in any equivalent society of the day.

If the Pharisees were a rich class probably they were mercants, but I would not make such a wide brush statement.
Some Jews were sheperds.

I dunno…Seems to be a pretty big disconnect between your title question and your post question…Pharisees are a subset of Jews - so saying Pharisees would not keep fish or sheep is different from saying “Jews were not shepherds”…:shrug:

That said - - -

I have heard that “shepherds” were right near the bottom of the Jewish social ladder in the first century BC. Most of the shepherds did not own the flocks they guarded…but worked for others. Whether these men were generally Jewish or not…I always assumed they were. Certainly the ones who came to the stable on Christmas anyway.

Beyond that I tend to agree with Jerry. The Pharisees were likely more “merchant” types and even if they did buy and sell sheep or fish…they most likely did not handle the actual labor themselves…
but I could be way off on that…


The main business of the ancient Hebrew people was raising sheep. Think through the Patriachs: most have their connection to sheep raising recorded in the Bible. Paul was a pharisee, and knew his own trade – tent-making. Which implies to me that others might well have plied trades too.

The actual job of the shepherd in the field, like the ones in the Christmas story, was a lowly one. But we are talking here of “the hired man”, who, as Our Lord says, would not care as much as the shepherd. John 10:12.


Shepherds were “ritually unclean” in that they were not able to purify themselves at the Temple since the Passover was during lambing season.

In other words Shepherd were on the margins of Jewish society, not at its centre.

Note that David was a shepherd.

Many of the key figures chosen by God in the OT were shepherds.

Shepherds were also on the margins of society.

What does that tell us about God?

I read, and I cannot recall where, that Pharisees tended to also be scribes, professional writers. Jews as a whole were literate in that they could read, but writing was a special skill. I also believe there were “capital S” Scribes in the Temple, and common scribes in towns and villages. I think the Scribes were like lawyers.

hmmmm - I need to look this up…

Jacob (Israel) and his entire family were shepherds. Joseph told his brothers to tell Pharaoh that they tended sheep when he brought them to introduce them to Pharaoh (See Genesis 47) I believe in the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day most people were illiterate and those who could read were given the special title “Lego” meaning “I can read.”

Nah, it’s the Sadducees who were primarily aristocratic. The Pharisees were more of a populist group composed of men from different social classes, ranging from semi-educated tradesmen and merchants to literate scribes, teachers, and legal professionals. There were rich men who were Pharisees, yes, but I should note that two of the most famous sages, Hillel and Shammai, were actually working-class poor: one was a woodcutter (one of the lowliest professions in antiquity, note) and the other did construction work. In other words, they don’t have much difference from Jesus Himself, who was a craftsman (tekton) who would have dabbled in wood-working and housebuilding and a few other odd jobs on the side. If we believe St. Paul was a Pharisee, there’s another one who supported himself by manual labor (tentmaking).

Patrick, your knowledge is a continuiag source of amazement to me. God bless you in this Holy Season.

Thanks to all for the things I am learning on this website. And Easter Greetings to all:D

Jacob was over a thousand years removed from the Incarnation, the great Temple, the “urban” landscape of the Jerusalem of Jesus’ time.

Regardless of the status of literacy in general in the Roman Empire, the Jews were their own nation, a subculture with their own rule and practice. Almost all Jewish men could read as they were required to read from the sacred scrolls at various times. The boys were initially taught by their mothers at home, so girls had to know how to read a bit, also.

“Lego,” in Greek, means generally “to utter.” Things Jesus says often begin lego: “I say.” (i.e., Matthew 16:18) It’s certainly possible, as you say, for it to have also referred to writing, I imagine, though I haven’t found it in Scripture. But they hardly refer to writing in Scripture.

Thank you:D

There were seven despised professions in Second Temple Judaism. While I don not have the whole list in front of me, shepherds, fishermen and sailors, and tax collectors were among them. Shepherds and fishermen were beyond the places where their morality or immorality could be witnessed, and they would come into contact with unclean creatures on a regular basis. Tax collectors were in league with Rome, having bought their positions so they could legally extort money from fellow Jews.



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