The OT uses three words (see above) which can be tr. as “herdsman” or “shepherd.” בוֹקֵ֥ר is used only once indicating Amos’ occupation before he was called to preach. נֹקֵ֑ד is used only twice—once to identify Amos’ occupation and the other (2 Kings 3:4) to describe the amount of tribute Mesha, king of Moab, had to pay the king of Israel. In Ugaritic material a נקד was a high official, between priestly and military levels of society, in charge of royal herds. The third Heb. word רֹעֶ֤ה is the most common in the OT, but it is usually tr. as “shepherd.”

There are two Gr. words used for herdsman in the NT. Βόσκοντες usually is tr. as “herdsman” while the more common ποιμήν, G4478, usually is tr. “shepherd.”

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A cowherd (Am 7:14). The same word is used in Syria today. ro`eh, has its equivalent in the language of Syria and Palestine (Arabic ra’i), and is a general term for any kind of a herdsman (Ge 13:7,8; 26:20; 1Sa 21:7). noqedh, occurs in one passage (Am 1:1); literally it means one who spots or marks the sheep, hence, a herdsman. Spotting the wool with different dyes is still the method of distinguishing between the sheep of different flocks. The herdsman is seldom the owner of the sheep, but a hireling.

See Sheep; Sheep Tending.

James A. Patch

See also

  • Occupations and Professions