555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

103. Why Were "Shepherds" an Abomination to the Egyptians?




The reason of the Egyptian hatred of the shepherds is a historic one. The Hyksos or Shepherd Kings, hundreds of years before Joseph's time, had invaded and conquered Lower Egypt and ruled the Delta, although they never occupied the whole country. They came from the East and were probably Arabians, and are represented as having been a cruel and arrogant race, who subjected the Egyptians to great hardships. "(See Gen. 46:34.) They were finally driven out of the country by a coalition of forces under several kings. They were probably called Shepherds because of the simplicity of their life, which was largely pastoral and semi-barbaric. Manetho, the Egyptian historian, says that they were the builders of Jerusalem, but his reference is probably to the Canaanites rather than the Jews. Some writers suggest that they were the progenitors of the Bedouins, and that the Amalekites, Midianites, and other hostile nations who opposed the Israelites after the Exodus were also descended from the stock of the expelled Shepherds. It is not improbable that the Philistines may also have been a branch of the same Shepherd family.