Archive for January 12th, 2018

Ezekiel 34: Shepherds and the Old Testament – A Reprise

Friday, January 12, 2018

Adapted from a reflection written on January 20, 2008, and explored last September. Today we re-visit our experiences with shepherds both true and false. 

Today’s reading is a familiar allegory that we read in scripture. It is a metaphor we hear read out to us when we participate in liturgies of The Word.

In Genesis 48, Jacob/Israel reminds his sons that God has been his shepherd.

In Numbers 27, Moses tells Yahweh that he ought not to leave his sheep without a shepherd.

In 2 Samuel 5 (and 1 Chronicles 11 and 17), David becomes shepherd of a nation.

In 1 Kings 22 (and 2 Chronicles 18), the prophet Micah predicts that the false shepherd kings of Israel will lead the flock astray.

Through this early Old Testament history, we see the image of the watchful shepherd, guiding and guarding his flocks; but another shepherd steals sheep from the owner. Shepherds wander great distances with their flocks in search of grazing and water to sustain them, and by the nature of their work, there are out of touch with the master and with society.  False and true shepherds come and go with their herds; they roam hillsides and rest by watering holes. However, these shepherds are not all to be trusted. The false shepherd leads his sheep astray – with no one knowing where they were, or what is happening to them. The good shepherd always thinks of his sheep before self; he struggles to gather his sheep in, to tend to their wounds, to save them from harm or danger. The outcast shepherd lives on the margins of society, and does not feel community or solidarity with anyone. Out of touch with society in general, shepherds are free to deceive us or to protect us. We need to acquire the skill of discernment. Today, Ezekiel juxtaposes the good and the false shepherds, the sustainers versus the ravagers. And we do well to pay close attention to his words.

When we use varying translations to explore Ezekiel’s words, we develop new eyes better able to discern the difference between true and false shepherds.

Tomorrow, shepherds in Wisdom . . .

To learn about shepherds today, click on the image or visit: https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/are-there-still-shepherds-today 


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