In Samuel 2 chapter 12 Nathan comes to King David and tells him a story about a rich man taking advantage of the rich man’s poor neighbor. Nathan explained the rich man had many lambs, but the poor man had “but one little ewe lamb…[that] was like a daughter to him” (2Sa 12:3). The poor man cared for his lamb so much that the lamb came to be likened to his children, feeding on the same food and drink as the poor man and his family. A traveller came to visit the rich man, who was unwilling to use one of his sheeps to treat the traveller with proper hospitality. Thus, taking advantage of the poor man, the rich man forcefully took the sheep to feed his guest, leaving the poor man with no sheep at all. While there can be many crimes to charge the rich man with, David and seemingly also Rachel focus on the cruel aspect of taking the sheep from the poor man. The sheep was not just livestock for the poor man, but was also his companion, family member, and as Rachel describes a source that “יחם לבב קופא,לבב חלכה,לבב לאה כל כך” (Bluwstein 52). Therefore, the worse crime of the rich man’s actions was the cruelty and despair he would have caused the poor man by taking one his most emotionally valued relationships.
Rachel adds a further level of importance and significance to the relationship the poor man has to his sheep and that she allegorically has to the “you” in the poem. In the first line of the second stanza of the poem Rachel writes “אין זולתה”, which the editor translated as “My ewe is all I have.” (Bluwstein 52 and 53). However, the Hebrew does not literally mean “My ewe is all I have,” but rather means “there is no other.” Thus, this line also hearkens to biblical texts that use that phrase mostly in the context of stating there is “no other like God.” For example, in Samuel 2 chapter 7 it says “א׳ן אלוהים זולתך,” or “there is no God besides you” (2Sa 7:22). Rachel therefore uses this phrase to elevate the sheep and the “you” in the poem to the position of God, placing the ultimate amount of importance the “you” in the poem has to Rachel.