The Significance of the Biblical Shepherd

by Anny Vos on October 30, 2013

The Good ShepherdHave you ever examined the importance of the role of the shepherd in the Bible? The esoteric meaning of this role goes much deeper than you might realize.

In a recent post, Joshua wrote about the conflict between Cain and Abel HERE. He discussed that this conflict constitutes the two natures—the higher and lower—within us, and the incompatibility that they present when the lower ego is in the driver’s seat of our lives.

Although it was not mentioned in his article, Abel was a shepherd. In this post I will explore the deeper Biblical meaning of this role as it relates to many Biblical characters that came after Abel. I believe you will see a reoccurring theme in the Biblical narrative as it relates to the higher spiritual ego and the lower ego through this role.

  • We find the office of the shepherd again in the story of the three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham’s original name, Abram—Av Ram (Lofty Father)—shows his high consciousness and the fact that he had not yet fully incarnated. Only later did he descend into this physical body when he too fell into a ‘deep sleep’ (Gen. 15:12) just like Adam, and around the same time his name was changed to Abraham, which means Father of the Many.


  • Following that the whole citizenry of Israel is a people of shepherds. When Jacob’s descendants descend (literally in Hebrew) into Egypt—realm of the ego at its most powerful—because of the famine, they are welcomed there because by then Joseph had become second only to the Pharaoh, but they were more or less banished to Goshen because the Pharaoh of Egypt and his people, the forces of the ego, did not like      shepherds! They were called Hebrews then, Ivrim’, which means People from the Other Side. They were the higher consciousness compared to the lower consciousness of the forces of the ego. They were not slaves yet but still shepherds.


  • When Moses had to escape from Egypt because he had killed one of the Egyptians, he had to spend ‘forty’ years in the desert as a shepherd before he was ready to take up his task and confront the Pharaoh and lead the people of Israel out of the slavery in Egypt.


  • David (4-6-4) was a shepherd for years before he was ready to become king and to successfully fulfil his duties as balancer and integrator of all things of duality, matter and ego.


  • And what about Jesus born in Bethlehem? Who were the first to hear the message and come and see the child? Who got to hear the angels sing? The shepherds, who had looked after their sheep. Who becomes aware of the birth of the Christ? People who focus on crucifying their emotions and becoming aware of everything that goes on inside them.


  • What is one of the images used for Jesus? The Good Shepherd, who takes care of every sheep and does not leave one behind. And when we look at this image, we return to Moses, who did the exact same thing in the desert and was rewarded by seeing the Burning Bush from where God spoke to him.


  • And how did the Apostle Peter become the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church according to the tradition? Because Jesus had symbolically made him a shepherd by telling him to feed his lambs and his sheep.

So what is a shepherd? In the Hebrew Bible it is always called the shepherd of the flock, the sheep and the goats, termed ‘tson’ in Hebrew. It is written as 90-1-50.

When you look at the deeper meaning of a word, you can look at the total numerical value in different ways (I only use one). You can also split up a word in different parts that each have a meaning and you can look at the meaning of each separate character. That is what I do here.

The first character is the tsade; as a word, ‘tsade’ means fish-hook. You can catch fish with such a fish-hook and fish are also a symbol of emotions and ego. That is why God commands man to rule (the verb ‘rd’ I mentioned earlier in my comments on Josh’s article) over the fish of the sea (Gen.1:28).

As a number the tsade is 90, which is the number of birth at the next level, as the result of a long process. Note that Sarah was 90 years old when she gave birth to Isaac. The aleph, one, of course is oneness, unity and love. The nun, fifty, we also know already as the number of the higher consciousness (as in: Jehoshua ben Nun). So all together this word means the long process of crucifying your ego and getting control over your emotions and consequently the birth and awakening of the higher consciousness/Christ and unity and love.

The shepherd is the one who is constantly involved in this all important process.

So when Cain kills the shepherd, he loses contact with his higher awareness and falls asleep by being banished to Nod, “the land of sleep”.

Of course this is the story of Adam all over again, when God puts him/her to sleep (‘tardema’, deep sleep) and separates their male and the female side in order to let them enter the world of duality and matter, after which they become sensitive to the force of the ego and eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Then they get their physical body, called ‘or’, 70-6-200, which you can also read as ‘iwer’, which means blind. The numbers 70 and 200 both mean ‘the many’, so away from unity and oneness into diversity and separation. This also meant that they obeyed God’s command ‘to be fruitful and multiply.’

We see a very interesting phenomenon here. More cycles are running side by side, each in its own phase of involution/evolution.

Cain is starting his cycle downwards by killing his brother, the shepherd, just as Adam and Eve had done by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. At the same time Adam and Eve started their swing upwards, their ascension, when Eve became pregnant and gave birth to Seth. This ended their cycle in the world of matter because Adam had turned 130 by then, which is thirteen, unity/oneness and love at the next level. The name Seth, 300-400, also points to the fact that the end of the cycle is reached as his name is formed by the last two characters of the Hebrew alphabet. After that Eve mysteriously vanishes as then Adam alone gets many sons and daughters during the next 800 years. This can only mean that Adam and Eve have become one again.

The number 800 points to that as the 8 suggests the eighth day, the day after the completion of the seventh day, the day of the material world, which in the Kabbala is called the Olam ha Assia, the world of doing things (God, the Higher Consciousness rests; the human being and Lower Consciousness work their way back up by working to balance and integrate everything). When the eighth day begins, Man has left the world of duality and matter again and ascends further into the higher levels of consciousness, still creating in these higher realms. The fact that it is called 800 instead of 8 also points to a long process on an even higher level.

When Adam/Eve dies after these ‘800’ years, I believe it means that by then they have left even the realm of shapes, forms, ideas, concepts, words, and defining ‘things’ again and returned to complete oneness.

Overall you can see the deeper esoteric significance through numerology and the higher meaning of the shepherd throughout the Bible!

Anny Vos has had experience translating the New Testament into the German language. She began to uncover the deeper esoteric meanings of the Bible on her translation journeys as she quickly realized that translating the Bible into any language presents a multitude of problems as the original meanings can be confused or lost. During translation Anny also discovered that the Bible has a deeper esoteric meaning that is not often disclosed in modern interpretation.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Joshua Tilghman October 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Anny, this was a brilliant post and it really resonated with me. I had never connected the fact that both Abraham and Adam went into a deep sleep before a change in consciousness. I went back and referenced the scripture. I noticed the theme of involution and evolution (as you stated in your article later on) through the fact that when Abraham went to sleep, the sun went down. The sun represents the higher self and usually raising of the spiritual ego (through the EAST in the Bible), which is the ascent. In this instance it represents involution. It is interesting that you mention Abraham as not being incarnated before, but the going down of the sun reveals this fact subtly. Of course I see this as figurative. I mention ‘figurative” because I don’t want my readers to be confused about the literal interpretation of this account, but the esoteric implications are certainly there. Thanks again for writing this, Anny. Much wisdom here! I am glad I opened this blog up to other writers. The wisdom of other esoteric students is much needed in these times! I have only pointed out a few of the many esoteric concepts you present in this post, but hopefully other readers will chime in and connect the other dots that I noticed.



anny October 31, 2013 at 2:20 am

Hi Joshua,

Thank you for publishing my article and appreciating it. I am glad I got the opportunity to see it before we leave for our trip to the coast in an hour or so. Mm, the weather prediction is sunny weather for our region and storm and rain for the coast. Still, the sea, which we do not often see here, will be beautiful anyway.

I have to correct one thing in what you wrote about me. I did not translate the New Testament into German. Both my knowledge of Greek (I did study it at school) and German would not be good enough for that. However, a German priest did and someone from Holland translated this German New Testament into Dutch. I belonged to a team of correctors who had to check the Dutch text and as such I discovered all the pitfalls of translation, but also the hidden meanings of texts.

Blessings to you too!


anny November 3, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Hello Joshua,

Although I did reply to your comment in a hurry, I did not yet go into the contents.

I am so glad that you discovered new things in this article because I already had written many of these things one at a time in comments but the complete picture obviously had not become clear. So I am pleased that it did now.

This also meant that you wrote something I did not yet know. I had not really comtemplated what it meant that the sun was going down went Abraham went into his deep sleep! But now I see the meaning of that, and an internal confirmation.

So do you see we have some sort of trinity here? In this case I wrote something, you added something and that led to a new understanding for both of us. And of course that is what happens all the time on a blog like this because we are all coming from slightly different directions and are not interested in fighting over who is right.

And I hope so much that there are also other readers who will connect other dots!

Of course all this interpretation is esoteric and figurative. It says nothing about the literal interpretation but is in addition to that. It is up to everyone to chose whatever form of interpretation they prefer or even to chose both of them and even other possibilities. When everyone acknowledges this freedom of choice, I think no one has to be afraid of getting hurt or feeling insulted by someone who chooses for the other option. And that makes it so much easier to take a look at what is totally new for you because you can take it or leave it, or even put it on the shelve for a while to look at it again later.


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