In Egypt herdsmen were probably of the lowest caste. Some of Joseph’s brethren were made rulers over Pharaoh’s cattle (Genesis 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 (Exodus 12:38). Both David and Saul came from “following the herd” to occupy the throne (1 Samuel 9; 11:5; Psalm 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 (Genesis 29:9; Exodus 2:16). The “chief of the herdsmen” was in the time of the monarchy an officer of high rank (1 Samuel 21:7; compare 1 Chronicles 27:29).
The herdsmen lived in tents (Isaiah 38:12; Jeremiah 6:3); and there were folds for the cattle (Numbers 32:16), and watch-towers for the herdsmen, that he might therefrom observe any coming danger (Micah 4:8; Nahum 3:8).