The importance of shepherds in Israel lay in the dependence on sheep of both the religious cult and the national economy. Sheep in Palestine relied totally on the protection of their shepherd, who rescued them from lions and bears (1 Sam. 17: 34–5; Amos 3: 12), checked their numbers (Jer. 33: 13), or failed to do so (Ezek. 34: 8); and searched for any that were missing (Matt. 18: 11–14). The image of the shepherd occurs frequently in the gospels (e.g. Luke 15: 3–7), and Jesus is the ‘good shepherd’ (John 10: 1–19) or the ‘great shepherd’ (Heb. 13: 20).