Jer 25:34 “Wail, shepherds, and cry! Roll about in the ashes, You leaders of the flock! For the days of your slaughter and your dispersions are fulfilled; You shall fall like a precious vessel.
Jer 25:35 And the shepherds will have no way to flee, Nor the leaders of the flock to escape.
Jer 25:36 A voice of the cry of the shepherds, And a wailing of the leaders to the flock will be heard. For the LORD has plundered their pasture,
Jer 25:37 And the peaceful dwellings are cut down Because of the fierce anger of the LORD.
In Jeremiah 25, God explains His power by predicting that He will kill a bunch of shepherds. To the American mindset this is an odd image. After all, when people remember the Psalm “The Lord is my shepherd” they tend to think of a meek goat herder, loving and caring for his flock. To modern Americans, killing shepherds is not powerful. If anything, it seems a little brutal.
But the Biblical image of a shepherd is different than the American mindset. Shepherds were seen as powerful warriors (or brawlers). Joel Hoffman in his book And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning mentions that the modern image of a Marine better fits the view of an ancient Shepherd (the toughness of a marine and the duties of a herder). Shepherds were known to kill bears and lions (1 Sam 17:34-35, Amo 3:12). In Exodus 2, Moses beats up a bunch of shepherds and everyone is impressed with him. God calls Cyrus (a military leader using force to implement God’s will) a shepherd (Isa 44:28), and David even compares God with shepherds (Psa 23).
In Jeremiah 25, the fact that God can make a large group of shepherds scatter is a claim for God’s power. God can defeat the mighty. This places an entirely new perspective on the times that Jesus calls himself a shepherd.