Moshe bar Jacob, Bethlehem shepherd from the age of 7 and for 12 years chief shepherd of the Temple flock. Now known as Father Christmas.
The Good Shepherd
The ancient Israelites were nomadic shepherds. By the time of Jesus they were a settled, agricultural people and the shepherd was a despised and mistrusted person. There were no fenced pastures; the shepherd and his flock roamed the hills grazing where they could. If at night, his flock strayed into a vineyard or wheat field he would be sure to be far away by morning. A shepherd could not be a witness in court, they were regarded as thieves and liars. Shepherds were out in all weathers and had to combat thieves and predators. Physically and emotionally these were tough men.
How interesting then that, after Joseph, the first people to be informed of the birth of the Messiah were the shepherds on the hills above Bethlehem.
Temple at Jerusalem
The Temple was not only a place of worship, it was a place of sacrifice.
Besides the daily offerings made by the priests, visitors to the Temple would also make offerings. These could be sin offerings, thanksgivings or the dedication of a son. Mary and Joseph offered two pigeons when Jesus was presented in the Temple at 40 days old. Richer people would offer a sheep or goat. You could not offer any old animal. The law laid down that the offerings had to be male animals, one year old (i.e not some worn out old sheep but valuable animals) and without blemish.
So the Temple maintained a flock of sheep and goats in the hills around Bethlehem, a few miles from Jerusalem. Animals were constantly being bought in from all over Judea and added to a core flock of ewes who knew the hills. So this flock was both expensive, therefore attractive to thieves, and unfamiliar with the landscape. So they had to be watched night and day by the shepherds Daily, a number of animals were taken from the flock and delivered to the Temple. The Temple even had a small stable within its precinct where the animals were kept until needed for slaughter.