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In Egypt herdsmen were probably of the lowest caste. Some of Joseph’s brethren were made rulers over Pharaoh’s cattle (Gen. 47:6, 17). The Israelites were known in Egypt as “keepers of cattle;” and when they left it they took their flocks and herds with them (Ex. 12:38). Both David and Saul came from “following the herd” to occupy the throne (1 Sam. 9; 11:5; Ps. 78:70).
David’s herd-masters were among his chief officers of state. The daughters also of wealthy chiefs were wont to tend the flocks of the family (Gen. 29:9; Ex. 2:16). The “chief of the herdsmen” was in the time of the monarchy an officer of high rank (1 Sam. 21:7; compare 1 Chr. 27:29).
The herdsmen lived in tents (Isa. 38:12; Jer. 6:3); and there were folds for the cattle (Num. 32:16), and watch-towers for the herdsmen, that he might therefrom observe any coming danger (Micah 4:8; Nah. 3:8).