The Bible story of the “lost sheep” is something we have heard from childhood and it is usually told in the context of the great love shown by the “good shepherd”, we find it in Luke:
*** Rbi8 Luke 15:4-6 ***
“What man of YOU with a hundred sheep, on losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine behind in the wilderness and go for the lost one until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it he puts it upon his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he gets home he calls his friends and his neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.
Like so many other stories from the Bible, which is mindlessly repeated over thousands of years it doesn’t make much sense when you sit down and think about it for a bit. An author has commented that if the point were to illustrate love and that the shepherd cared about the lost animal, a dog would have been a far better example.
After all people keep sheep to use their wool, slaughter and eat them. So recovering a lost sheep would of course not be any sign of love for the sheep, it would simply be recovering lost property. It is of course highly unlikely that they kept sheep as pets in ancient Israel. The same lost sheep would sooner or later end up on the dinner table.
Taking this a step further and looking at it in the context of another biblical phrase, “wolf among the sheep”, it didn’t seem to matter much from the viewpoint of the sheep. The likelihood of survival was zero, with both the wolf and the shepherd.