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Discovery Magazine 11/1/2002

Mary had a Little Lamb

Sheep were a very important part of life in Bible lands. Their hide and wool were used for clothing. Their meat and milk were used for food and drink. They were used for religious sacrifice. Their hide was even used as coverings in building construction. A person was considered rich if he owned many sheep. The king of Moab regularly paid tax to the king of Israel: 100,000 lambs and the wool from 100,000 rams (2 Kings 3:4). When King Solomon finished building the magnificent temple, he sacrificed 120,000 sheep. In fact, 100 sheep a day were needed just to feed everyone in Solomon's household (1 Kings 4:23)!

Every year, flock owners would have a big celebration. They would bring their sheepshearers together to shave the wool off the sheep. This occasion was a time of great fun and feasting. Flocks were cared for everyday by shepherds who knew their sheep, often by name. The shepherds were aided by sheep dogs that helped to protect the sheep from hungry wolves.

The Bible uses sheep to symbolize important spiritual truths. The righteous person is like a sheep (Matthew 25:32). Sinning makes us lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7). Like sheep, we need guidance from God our Shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep (John 10:11). Mary was blessed when she gave birth to Jesus. No wonder John declared, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29).

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