International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
shep'-kot, shep'-kot, shep'-fold (gedherah, mikhlah, mishpethayim, naweh; aule): At night the sheep are driven into a sheepfold if they are in a district where there is danger from robbers or wild beasts. These folds are simple walled enclosures (Numbers 32:16 Judges 5:16 2 Chronicles 32:28 Psalm 78:70 Zephaniah 2:6 John 10:1). On the top of the wall is heaped thorny brushwood as a further safeguard. Sometimes there is a covered hut in the corner for the shepherd. Where there is no danger the sheep huddle together in the open until daylight, while the shepherd watches over them (Genesis 31:39 Luke 2:8). In the winter time caves are sought after (1 Samuel 24:3 Zephaniah 2:6). The antiquity of the use of some of the caves for this purpose is indicated by the thick deposit of potassium nitrate formed from the decomposition of the sheep dung.