The Shepherd Motif in the Psalter

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by UHI)


This thesis considers the use of the shepherd metaphor in the Psalter. In keeping
with its use elsewhere in the ANE, it was found to have strongly royal overtones. It is
principally used in descriptions of Israel's God. Less frequently, it is applied to undershepherds
such as Moses, Aaron and David. More specifically, the shepherd
metaphor presents Yahweh as an interventionist deity who deals gently with his people.
The Psalter gives the metaphor a particularly Israelite flavour by connecting it
with both the exodus from Egypt and the temple. The exodus connection is made
not only by explicit references within the psalms to that event, but also through allusions
to Exodus 15. The latter passage contains a jeu de mot which may already link
shepherding to the temple. That connection is further developed in the Psalter and
may explain the placement of some shepherd psalms. A final question that is considered
is the frequency of the shepherd metaphor. Especially in light of the Psalter's
emphasis on kingship, it is argued that the shepherd metaphor is infrequent. A possible
explanation for that phenomenon is proposed which relates to the genre of the
Date of Award6 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of the Highlands and Islands
SupervisorJamie Grant (Supervisor) & Hector Morrison (Supervisor)

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