In Luke 2:15-16

15 When the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem, then, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

Did the shepherds leave their flocks?

  • 3
    Without any other information (leaving a volunteer or two to guard the sheep), we have to say, 'Yes, they did.'
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 21:16

3 Answers 3


The simple answer is, obviously, YES. we can deduce this because:

  • The town of Bethlehem was a small town and they could not have taken their flocks with them
  • They left immediately (Luke 2:15) and hurried (v16) - one cannot hurry with sheep
  • The shepherds "returned" to their flocks (v20) shortly after.

However, while the shepherds left their flocks, this is not to suggest that they did not provide care for them. Perhaps they left them the charge of others, assistants, etc for a short time while they went to town of Bethlehem.

We are not told but they must have left their flocks.

  • 7
    Please note that shepherds can often leave the flock for a good part of the day in the care of their dogs, this can be observed even in modern times in locations where traditional shepherding is still practiced.
    – vsz
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 7:00
  • 1
    @vsz - thanks for this - good point.
    – Dottard
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 9:39
  • 2
    Did biblical shepherds use dogs? In any event, elsewhere there's a parable about a shepherd leaving his flock to search for a lost lamb, which answers OP's question explicitly. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 11:56
  • @MarkMorganLloyd I agree, though the Bible is full of Shepherding references, I've never been able to find even a single reference to any shepherd having a dog or any sheep dogs. I've always assumed that this was related to some general stigma attached to dogs ("curs") in ancient Judea. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 15:17
  • Oh wait, there is one in Job 30:1. But still, that's from ancient nomadic, pre-Abrahamic times. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 15:34

The shepherds would never leave their sheep alone at nighttime. It would be a dereliction of duty. If the shepherds abanded the flock, the owner of the flock would ask, "why did you lose sheep?" Their truthful answer would be, "we went into Bethlehem to see a baby". The owner would be justified to fire them so they never herd sheep again.

  • 2
    Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. Please take the tour (link below) to better understand how this site works. Please supply some references to support your assertions.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 0:21

The original Greek does not have the phrase "returned to sheep." Just that they returned. My source is the Byzantine Majority Text (2000) Greek New Testament with Strong's Numbers and parsing info. I was curious because some translations have sheep and some don't.

  • 1
    As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Mar 5 at 1:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.