Two Hebrew words, eder [r,d, and son, are regularly translated "flock" in the Old Testament and both are rendered by Greek poimne [poivmnh] (or its diminutive poimnion [poivmnion]) in the Septuagint and New Testament. The word eder [r,d, 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 ; Isa 40:11 ; Zech 9:16 ; 10:3 ; Zechariah 11:7 Zechariah 11:17 ; John 10:16 ). More particularly, it speaks of Israel as subjects of earthly kings ( Jer 13:20 ; 25:34-36 ; Ezek 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 ( Num 27:17 ; 1 Kings 22:17 ), helpless ones ( 2 Sam 24:17 ) who wander and go astray ( Isa 53:6 ; Zech 10:2 ). Isaiah makes it clear that such behavior is sinful, willful departure from the shepherd.
Although the flock is sometimes scattered in judgment ( Eze 34:12 ) it is never without the hope of regathering ( Jer 23:1-3 ). The reason for this hope is that Israel is under the care of Yahweh, the Good Shepherd ( Psalm 95:7 ; Ezek 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 ( Mic 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 © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
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Bibliography InformationElwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Flock'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology".