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Bible Dictionaries

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Flock

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Two Hebrew words, eder [ עֶדֶר ] and son , are regularly translated "flock" in the Old Testament and both are rendered by Greek poimne [ ποίμνη ] (or its diminutive poimnion [ ποίμνιον ]) in the Septuagint and New Testament. The word eder [ עֶדֶר ] connotes a more collective sense than so'n , which can also be translated "sheep." Both occur figuratively (as do the Greek terms), almost always with Israel (or Judah) and the church in view as the "flock" or people of God.

The designation "flock" is used a number of times simply as an epithet of the people, one that inherently communicates their helplessness, naiveté, simplicity, and dependence (Psalm 74:1; 77:20; 78:52; 79:13; 80:1; 100:3; Isaiah 40:11; Zechariah 9:16; 10:3; 11:7,17; John 10:16 ). More particularly, it speaks of Israel as subjects of earthly kings (Jeremiah 13:20; 25:34-36; Ezekiel 34:2-3 ) or of the elders of the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:3 ), who are held accountable for their leadership. Failing that leadership, or perhaps in rebellion to it, Israel is seen as a people without a shepherd (Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17 ), helpless ones (2 Samuel 24:17 ) who wander and go astray (Isaiah 53:6; Zechariah 10:2 ). Isaiah makes it clear that such behavior is sinful, willful departure from the shepherd.

Although the flock is sometimes scattered in judgment (Ezekiel 34:12 ) it is never without the hope of regathering (Jeremiah 23:1-3 ). The reason for this hope is that Israel is under the care of Yahweh, the Good Shepherd (Psalm 95:7; Ezekiel 34:31; cf. John 10:11-18 ), who has made his people the objects of his saving grace and heirs of all the covenant promises (Micah 7:14 ).

Eugene H. Merrill

Bibliography . P. L. Garber, ISBE, 4:463-65; B. D. Napier, ISBE, 4:315-16; G. E. Post, Dictionary of the Bible, 4:486-87.

Copyright Statement
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.

Bibliography Information
Elwell, Walter A. Entry for 'Flock'. Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/bed/f/flock.html. 1996.

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