Lazarus: It happened a couple of weeks before you came. The shepherds
of Tekoa told it to the shepherds in Bethlehem who told it to ours.
I think in a few days, the story must have been repeated several times
all over Jerusalem until it reached the mountains of Ephraim. By this
time, the shepherds of Galilee must have heard about it....
That night Martha did not have to light any of the lamps. It was a bright
moonlit night and the inn’s patio shone like it was daytime. Yonder,
the small houses of Bethany looked like they had a new whitewash....
Lazarus took a handful of dates as he started to tell us the story....
Lazarus: His name was David, like the other shepherd who later became our king.
He lived nearby, in Tekoa, the village by the south. It was here they
say that the famous prophet Amos, who had a lot to say, was born. But
this David was neither king nor prophet. He was only a shepherd, tending
a herd of 40 sheep....
Go!... It’s getting dark, little rascals! It’s time to go home!....
Goooooooo! Let no one be left behind.... Straight ahead!... Goooo!...
Everyday, at dusk, the shepherd did his thing: bring back the
sheep to the fold. It was not an easy thing, mind you. They say that
every path has its puddle.... That’s why, every time it got dark, and
the sheep had to cross the great ravine, David would strike the stones
with his staff.... The little animals, already familiar with the sound,
passed quietly: they knew their shepherd was just ahead of them, leading
them on the right path.
Glow… Painted One… Little Star… Blackwool … Dopey… Little Ear!… Ah,
everyone is here. I left forty sheep, and with forty I’m coming back!
Upon reaching the fold, David stood near the gate counting his
sheep. He gave each one a name which he never mixed up with anyone else....
This David knew his flock like he was their mother… And so did the sheep:
they knew him from seven miles away. Well, it happened that in the same
fold, two other shepherds kept their flocks....
was your day, David? Were you lucky?
I was, Cyrus. I passed by the eagle’s ravine, and boy, my rascals had
a banquet. You should see their bulging bellies. They’ll sleep better
than you and I, but they deserve it.... Think of the things they give
us: milk, cheese, wool... It’s only fair that we work for them too,
going up and down the hills. That’s how we’re at peace with them. My
little rascals were like children feasting on candy in that vast green
valley.... You should’ve seen them...
I’d rather not. These animals are better off than we are.... You say
“it’s fair, it’s fair.” Tell me, is it fair that they come fully stuffed
while we have nothing but a few pieces of dates and a small slice of
cheese... I didn’t think that the job of a shepherd was this bad, damn!
Cyrus: Who told you to start this,
one, but I have no choice. I couldn’t find anything better. Let me tell
you this: I swear by this mole on your bald head, Cyrus, that as soon
as I can, it will be “goodbye to you forever!” I’m sick and tired of
going up and down the hill, and having to milk the animals.
everything for four cents! I, too, am tired of all this! To hell with
all these sheep!
hell with the master too!
sheep are not yours, that’s why you talk that way. If they were your
own, you’d feel affection for them....
Cyrus and Nato were shepherds who were hired for a fee. The flocks
they tended belonged to two big businessmen of Tekoa. Since they did
not own the sheep and the work of a shepherd was heavy, these two did
not work very hard: one did his job reluctantly, while the other, maliciously.
It was the opposite with David. Those 40 sheep were his treasure and
he loved them...
friends, keep right on cursing the animals, while you eat their cheese.
As for me, I’m gonna sleep… for I have to be up at dawn. I want to bring
my little rascals to Bethlehem… where the pastures are supposed to
be the best....
the snakes are on the look-out…
I always have my stick ready, besides my eyes are always open, so I
don’t think there’s any snake that can outwit me.... So, may you dream
of the Messiah’s banquet, for your happiness!
The sun had not yet risen, but David was already on his toes,
while his friends had not awaken from their sleep. Every morning, he
would get up early, fill his sack with bread and cheese and his canteen
with wine. Then he would tie his stick to his back and slip his sling
into his pocket. Holding his staff well, he would set out to work!
Goooooo! Today you’ll have good pasture and
plenty of water for everyone!.... Daisy, don’t go astray! Whitey! Gooooo!
One night, the howling of the wolves was heard in the village
of Tekoa. All the sheep were scared because they smelled danger....
A Shepherd: Damn!.... They have sharp fangs like swords and eyes
burning like ember...!
Shepherd: Ten. They killed ten.
Another Shepherd: What could I do?… I ran up the mountain, and the sheep
that could escape followed me.... Since they were so stupid, they didn’t
know where to go...
Shepherd: I’ve no idea...! About fourteen. Some were badly injured,
some were bleeding, their bodies pierced with holes... I had to finish
them off with blows, since there was no choice....
Another Shepherd: It was almost night…. Suddenly they came and attacked
the flock and…
Shepherd: I didn’t count them. They were many!....
At night, the wolves howled on top of the mountains. Then they
descended into the village and began the carnage… killing several sheep.
The shepherds of Tekoa were very alarmed. David, more than anyone else.
got to do something, guys, don’t you think so?
way. Don’t you know its the wolves who are the masters…? They come from
the same hell!… You can’t beat them.
If we get the leader, the rest would lose heart and go away and stop
killing our sheep.... The trouble is, we, ourselves, are a bunch of
Well, yes. So what? Look, I’m not risking my neck for these animals.
You do it if you like, since you love them so much. As a matter of fact,
you’re beginning to look like them...
That night, David did not sleep on the straw mattress in his usual
place. He stayed outside, leaning on one of the beams of the fold. The
young man smelled something...
them come, let them come... They’ll learn who I am....
After the first night watch, the wolves ceased to howl....
well, their voice must have grown hoarse with so much howling....
After a while, David closed his eyes... It was a matter of seconds...
Two huge, black wolves leaped over the wall of the fold and struck like
lightning at the sheep...
wolf!… The wolf…! Run…!
here, dammit, and let’s face it. With the three of us, we can do it!
do it, you fool!… I’m getting out of here!
David’s two companions started to run across the field, leaving
him alone with the wolves and all the sheep milling around terrified,
not knowing where to go, trying to flee from the attack of the beasts....
But they couldn’t. Suddenly, some of them fell bleeding, their bodies
ripped open. David could wait no longer.... From his bag, he took out
a sharp knife, gripped it firmly with his hand, and when one of the
wolves leaped over one of the sheep, he lunged at the wolf and planted
the knife deep into his heart. The animal turned around and fell dead
at his feet.
beast, you have finally paid for your deeds!
The other wolf, smelling the blood of his companion, left the
sheep, eyes burning with rage, to attack David… The two engaged in a
deadly fight, rolling over and over on the ground.... The terrified
sheep stayed close to the walls of the fold, running in confusion to
my little rascals…! Don’t be afraid.... this beast will not come out
of here alive…
The second wolf roared as he planted his fangs into the shepherd’s
arm. David, gasping, plunged the knife again and again into the back
of the beast, who only became more enraged as he continued being wounded....
David, who was almost out of breath, succeeded in landing the knife
right into the middle of the animal’s chest. The beast, foaming with
rage, mustered all his remaining strength, and hurled himself at the
young man’s neck, biting it desperately… It was indeed sad… The shepherd’s
blood and the wolf’s mixed on the earth and saturated it.... so the
fight finally ended....
Cyrus: What a daring guy he is, this David! Imagine him fighting
Nato: And such huge animals they were! This guy really fought
like a brave man....
Cyrus: Tell me, Nato. Who would ever think of fighting two wolves
at the same time?
Nato: Two wolves plus the other two hundred wolves who leaped
over the wall. This David had plenty of guts to fight them to save his
flock. See how he left them stiff as death.
Cyrus: Yeah, but it cost him his life too… He’s a fool, that’s
what he is…
Nato: Call him whatever you wish, but thanks to him, the sheep
have been saved. Don’t forget that, Cyrus, the sheep have been saved,
thanks to him....
Lazarus: The story spread from mouth to mouth, from shepherd to shepherd. And
now, you know it too.... He’s a fool, all right, but a valiant one…
He gave his life for his sheep, his little rascals, as he called them....
Don’t you think the life of this man is worth talking about?
Many years later, when Peter and Andrew, my brother James and the rest
of us announced to our countrymen the good news of Jesus who gave his
life for his people, we were reminded of this story of the good shepherd,
as told to us by Lazarus in Bethany, when the great feast of the Passover
was almost near.