strtoupper('“F')locks and Herds”

Because of Nephi's reference to "flocks and herds" (2 Nephi 5:11), the local land of Nephi probably included a variety of animal life (the text does not mention any animals which were brought over from the Old World). 1 Nephi 18:25 lists many animals which were found "in the wilderness." Among them were "beasts in the forest of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men." The land of Nephi might have been located in or near this wilderness and thus many of the animals found there could have been the same as listed in 1 Nephi 18:25. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

2 Nephi 5:11 We began to raise flocks ([Illustration]): American gobblers had been kept in flocks for many centuries before the Spaniards came, as shown by this ceramic effigy (dated before 500 B.C.) Their flesh, eggs, and feathers served obvious ends, but the whole fowl was also often sacrificed. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 48]

“Flocks and Herds”

According to Brant Gardner, in the Book of Mormon, "flocks and herds" are a paired set. Although the term "flocks" does appear singly at times, the term "herds" is not mentioned except as in conjunction with "flocks." This usage of the paired terms "flocks and herds" matches well with Old Testament usage, where the vast majority of cases have "flocks and herds" paired. This consistent pairing indicates that there was a linguistically tied phrase common in the Old World that was perpetuated in the New World. In instances of Old Testament "flocks" used alone, the term "flocks refers to sheep, as in Genesis 29:2. Similarly, herds were typically associated with cattle. However, the KJV translation will at times use the world "cattle" as a translation for miqneh "a possession, thing purchased" (Strong's Analytical Concordance). (See for example Genesis 30:39-40.)

The Book of Mormon linking of "flocks and herds" suggests that "flocks and herds" was a linked linguistic pair that had meaning together, but not necessarily separately. "Herds" may not have existed except when generically linked to "flocks." While there is no direct evidence for the usage, there is the possibility that the Old Testament usage of miqneh "possessions" could have become the transferred meaning of the paired "flocks/herds." The usage of flocks and herds could easily fit into this meaning, where the singly used "flocks" might not (such as Mosiah 2:3)

John Sorenson suggests that flocks and herds may have been categories for smaller and larger animals respectively. He includes fowl in the flocks, which is completely expected in the English usage of the term,; but not supported in the Biblical usage (Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 293). His discussion of the possible animals under semi-domestication is worthwhile, but the meaning of "flocks and herds" may have been much different than his more conventional analysis suggests. [Brant Gardner, "Brant Gardner's Page," [] Nephi/2Nephi5.htm, pp. 10-12]

Alan C. Miner -

Alan C. Miner

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary