The IAA announced last Thursday the discovery of the statue of a ram at Caesarea Maritima. The announcement says,
The statue … might have been part of the decoration of a Byzantine church from the sixth–seventh centuries CE at Caesarea. By the same token it could also be earlier, from the Roman period, and was incorporated in secondary use in the church structure.”
The photo below seems to have been made in a metal storage shed and provides some idea of the size of the ram whose front legs are missing.
In the next photo the ram looks much larger than it is because of the relationship to the camera.
The aerial photo below will help you put the discovery location in perspective. It shows the area of the Byzantine church that was built on the site about A.D. 525. Kenneth Holum of the University of Maryland announced in 1995 the discovery of Herod the Great’s enormous temple dedicated to the Roman Emperor Augustus underneath the ruins of the Byzantine church.
When the Pharisees and scribes complained that Jesus received sinners and ate with them, He told them a parable that we call the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7).
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:4-7 ESV)
“When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulder, rejoicing.” This describes the work of good shepherds and a practice that was well known to those who heard Jesus. On another occasion Jesus called Himself the good shepherd (John 10:11, 14).
The motif of the good shepherd with the sheep on his shoulder became common in later Christian iconography. For some examples of Good Shepherd statues/statuettes from the Byzantine period see our post here.
HT: Joseph I. Lauer