The biblical equivalent of a cowboy was possibly a herdsman who was responsible for managing and caring for animals (often cattle, but sometimes pigs). Herdsmen are mentioned in Genesis 13:7-8; 26:20; 1 Samuel 21:7; 2 Chronicles 14:15; Matthew 8:33; Mark 5:14 and Luke 8:34.

A closely related role was that of shepherd (who cared for the sheep and goats). Shepherds are mentioned far more often in the Bible than herdsmen. While the modern image of a shepherd tends to be a peaceful, meek and quiet man, the biblical shepherds tend to be known for their fighting skill and physical prowess. In this sense, they are probably closer to American cowboys than might be apparent from the English word “shepherd”. This is seen, for example, in the way the word is used in Jeremiah 25:34-35; 49:19; Amos 3:12 and Micah 5:5.

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