From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Crowd —In many passages of the Gospels we read of the rapid gathering of a crowd around Jesus. The healing of the man with the withered hand seems to have been the first occasion on which a great company was drawn to Him by curiosity or by the hope of healing. ‘His fame went throughout all Syria. The multitude was gathered from Galilee. Jerusalem, Judaea, Idumaea, and from the district round Tyre and Sidon; the whole country was moved ( Matthew 4:25,  Mark 3:7-9,  Luke 6:17-19). When Jesus retired for quiet to a desert place after receiving the news of the death of John the Baptist, He was followed by a crowd of five thousand people ( Matthew 14:14,  Mark 6:34,  Luke 9:11). The words used for ‘crowd’ are ὄχλος and πλῆθος (both usually rendered ‘multitude’ in Authorized and Revised Versions, but in  Mark 2:4;  Mark 5:27;  Mark 5:30,  Luke 8:19;  Luke 19:3, ὄχλος is translation ‘press’ [ Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ‘crowd’]). In classical Greek πλῆθος means the common people, the plebs , as opposed to ὄχλος, the inchoate throng that comes together on any special occasion, the turba . But in the NT the distinction is not uniformly maintained; in  Mark 3:7-9 the words are used interchangeably. St. Luke is more exact in his use of language, and in  Acts 15:30 uses πλῆθος in a technical sense, common enough in the inscriptions, as meaning the membership of a political or religious association in its totality (Deissmann, Bible Studies , English translation 232). The question arises whether there were any special circumstances in those days that favoured the coming together of such masses of people upon very short notice.

1. The Messianic expectation was the motive of many such gatherings. The misgovernment under the Herods had cast the nation’s thoughts back upon God, and the Messianic hope awakened with new power. The attention that John the Baptist attracted was due to the belief that he was the Messiah, a belief that he took pains to shatter. To John there flocked at the outset of his ministry the people in the neighbourhood, but afterwards the movement reached the north and the inflammable Galilee. Josephus ( Ant. xviii. v. 2) says that John was put to death because Herod feared lest the crowds he was gathering about him should ‘put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise.’ It was in consequence of a similar movement among the Samaritans that Pilate was recalled. The bloodshed with which the movement was checked led to an information being laid against him at Rome (Josephus Ant. xviii. iv. 2). It is clear from these incidents that the Messianic hope was very present with the people; and whenever the times raised up a man who seemed to have a distinctive message, the Jews were more than willing to flock to listen to him.

2. The splendid road system of Palestine facilitated the gathering of such crowds. The Romans made their roads partly on commercial grounds, and partly to permit of the passage of troops among the turbulent people. The commerce of the country must have been considerable in spite of the grinding taxation. Herod’s annual income (Josephus Ant. xvii. xi. 4) was 900 talents, nearly £400,000 of our money. The regular raising of such a sum implies a settled trade, and much coming and going between different parts of the country. The excellence of the roads is borne witness to by the fact that the Roman procurator, who resided at Caesarea, could reach Jerusalem with troops by way of Antipatris in less than twenty-four hours. The distance is about sixty miles. Along these splendid roads the crowd would stream on the first hint of the appearance of one who might be the Messiah.

3. The small size of the country must also be remembered. Palestine bulks so large in spiritual significance that one is apt to forget how small it is. And yet from the shore of the Dead Sea one may view the glittering snow of Hermon, while from the hill above Nazareth may be seen on the one hand the ships in the Mediterranean, and on the other the rolling hills of Gilead. This land, only about 1/6th the size of England, was densely populated. To-day its population is a little over 600,000, but in OT and Roman times must have been very much larger.  2 Samuel 24:9 implies a population of 6,500,000; and, while it may be questioned whether the land ever could have carried so great a population as this, it is clear, both from the notices in history and from the existing ruins, that the desolations of to-day were formerly densely peopled. The population in the time of Christ is generally reckoned to have been about 2½ millions (Sanday, Sacred Sites of the Gospels , p. 16). See, further, art. Multitude.

R. Bruce Taylor.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

A — 1: Ὄχλος (Strong'S #3793 — Noun Masculine — ochlos — okh'-los )

"a confused throng," is usually translated "multitude." The RV translates it "crowd" (AV, "press" in some) in  Matthew 9:23,25;  Mark 2:4;  3:9;  5:27,30;  Luke 8:19;  19:3;  Acts 21:34,35;  24:12,18 . See Company , Multitude , Number , People.

B — 1: Ὀχλοποιέω (Strong'S #3792 — Verb — ochlopoieo — okh-lop-oy-eh'-o )

"to make a crowd" (A, with poieo, "to make"), is translated "gathered a crowd" in  Acts 17:5 , RV (AV, "company").

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): (v. t.) To push, to press, to shove.

(2): (v. t.) A number of persons congregated or collected into a close body without order; a throng.

(3): (v. t.) The lower orders of people; the populace; the vulgar; the rabble; the mob.

(4): (v. i.) To press together or collect in numbers; to swarm; to throng.

(5): (v. t.) To play on a crowd; to fiddle.

(6): (n.) An ancient instrument of music with six strings; a kind of violin, being the oldest known stringed instrument played with a bow.

(7): (v. t.) To press or drive together; to mass together.

(8): (v. t.) To fill by pressing or thronging together; hence, to encumber by excess of numbers or quantity.

(9): (v. t.) To press by solicitation; to urge; to dun; hence, to treat discourteously or unreasonably.

(10): (v. i.) To urge or press forward; to force one's self; as, a man crowds into a room.

(11): (v. t.) A number of things collected or closely pressed together; also, a number of things adjacent to each other.