[B-Greek] AGELH herd.

Murray Hogg muzhogg at netspace.net.au
Sun Nov 16 18:46:49 EST 2008

Hi Oun Kwon,

I believe you've been very badly misinformed about the behavior of pigs.

As a very general statement in regards to wild pigs; sows live in small groups (up to a couple of dozen animals), boars are solitary but join groups in order to mate. In arid regions the species tends to cluster around water supplies (pigs sunburn easily and like to stay near mud [= "pig sunscreen"!]) and it is not uncommon to get so many pigs clustered around a water supply that they destroy the ecology of both the water feature and the surrounding area.

By way of "official" confirmation of the above, please see the below;

First, the Australian Government fact sheet on the feral pig which can be found at;


And note in particular;

Adult male feral pigs (boars) generally roam alone over an
area of up to 43 square kilometres, while females (sows)
range over areas smaller than 20 square kilometres.
During dry conditions, groups of up to 100 pigs may
gather around waterholes. To breed, a male joins a
group of 12–15 females.

Second, the University of Arizona Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee's guidelines on the proper handling and care of pigs under the care of U.of Arizona project teams advises that;


Pig are gregarious and social. Whenever possible, pigs should be housed in groups of from two to eight pigs. When pigs must be individually housed, be certain they can see, hear and touch other pigs through a fence or cage.

As for whether pigs graze on a hillside? Well, clearly not if one is thinking of the sort of hillsides frequented by mountain goats! But I don't think the Greek of Matt 5:11 requires us to understand anything of this sort is had in mind. Actually, Matt 5:11 merely reads "on the/that hill" which indicates only a noticeable rise in the terrain. In any case, pigs in Papua New Guinea cope with some of the most mountainous country on earth without any problem and the idea that they need flat ground to graze is quite incorrect.

My bottom line? I believe, as I said above, that you've been very badly informed.

On the linguistic question: "herd" is certainly an acceptable collective noun for the pig - you'll find agriculturalists commonly using it. So too "group" and a few other rarely used terms; a "farrow", a "sounder", etc - try googling "pigs collective noun" and you'll find these and perhaps a few others. However, I'd be tossing up between "herd" and "group" depending upon the sort of connotation you want to convey in your immediate context. In my context, I'd go "herd" for domestic pigs and "group" for feral pigs - of which we get not a few here in Australia.

Murray Hogg

Oun Kwon wrote:
> Copying from BDAG p. 9 for *AGELH*
> (Hom. et al.) *herd* of swine (Hes. Scutum 168; Eudoxus Rhod. [II BC] an
> Aelian, NA 10; 16) *Mt 8:30-32; Mk 5:11, 13; Lk 8:32f*. – DELG. M-M
> I was told 'swine are not herd animal, nor do they graze (on a hillside)'.
> Here is a copy of relevant portions from OED under 'herd':
> 1. a. A company of domestic animals of one kind, kept together under the
> charge of one or more persons. (The notion of a keeper is now little
> present, and the sense is scarcely distinct from 2.)
>   b. As contrasted with flock (see flock n.1 3), esp. in the phrase herds
> and flocks, herd is restricted to cattle or bovine domestic animals.
> 2. a. A company of animals of any kind, feeding or traveling in company; a
> school (of whales, porpoises, etc.).
> 3. a. A large company of people; a multitude, host. Now always in a
> disparaging sense: cf. b.
>   b. the herd: the multitude, the common people, the rabble. Often qualified
> by common, vulgar, etc.
>   c. Of things: A great number, a mass.
> Two questions I have:
> What sense (of the gloss 'herd') do the references cited in BDAG support?
> Can I take it as 'bunch of swine' rather than 'herd of swine' to avoid a
> wrong image from the text there as if swines were let graze on pasture like
> sheep?
> Thank you,
> Oun Kwon.
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