Alice C. Linsley
The ruler-priests among Abraham's people had two wives who lived in separate settlements with separate flocks. Together these constituted the extent of the ruler's kingdom. There were practical reasons for this practice. In the event of attack, the ruler's line was more likely to survive if divided into two camps. This very fear of being "cut off from the earth" motivated Jacob to divide his household into two groups when returning to Canaan (Gen. 32). Horus two land holdings, which is indicated by one of his titles: Har-pa-Neb-Taui, which means Horus of the Two Lands.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, speaks of having other sheep in another fold (John 10:16). The two folds are often cast as dispensations: one consisting of those who lived in expectation of the Son of God (Abraham's people) and the other being the witnesses of His resurrection (the Church). Together these comprise the Kingdom of God.
The rulers of Egypt kept flocks and acknowledged that Jacob's people were especially skilled shepherds. This is why Pharaoh asked Joseph to put the best shepherd of Jacob's clan in charge of the royal flocks (Gen. 47:6). Amram, Moses' father, married according to the pattern of Horite ruler-priests. He too was a shepherd with water sources to provide for his flocks. His daughter, Miriam, grew up around her father's water shrine and she married a Horite ruler, Hur.
The association of sheep with the Son of God is found throughout the Bible and takes the Horite shepherd-priests as its pattern. A common image of God is as the Shepherd of Israel (Ps 80:1) and the priests of Israel are referred to as “shepherds.” The priests took the best sheep to offer as sacrifices. Jesus comes from a long line of shepherd-priests, on both Joseph's and Mary's sides. According to Tradition, Mary’s father, Joachim, was a priest and the Protoevangelium of James says that he had flocks. The pattern is clear that priests, who maintained shrines at major water systems or at wells, kept sheep. Moses tended the flocks of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. It was at Jethro's well that Moses first met his future wife, Zipporah. Abraham's servant found Rebecca at a well and Jacob first encountered Rachel at a well.
In God's economy, which always gets the order of things right, it was the shepherds of Bethlehem, a Horite settlement, who were the first to receive the news of the birth of the Son of God!