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English Bible Dictionary

Reed

 

Under this name may be noticed the following Hebrew words:

Agmon occurs in (Job 40:12,16; Isaiah 9:14) (Authorized Version "rush"). There can be no doubt that it denotes some aquatic reed-like plant, probably the Phragmitis communis, which, if it does not occur in Palestine and Egypt, is represented by a very closely-allied species, viz., the Arundo isiaca of Delisle. The drooping panicle of this plant will answer well to the "bowing down the head" of which Isaiah speaks. (Isaiah 58:5)

Gnome, translated "rush" and "bulrush" by the Authorized Version, without doubt denotes the celebrated paper-reed of the ancients, Papyrus antiquorum, which formerly was common in some parts of Egypt. The papyrus reed is not now found in Egypt; it grows however, in Syria. Dr. Hooker saw it on the banks of Lake Tiberias, a few miles north of the town, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. The papyrus plant has an angular stem from 3 to 6 feet high, though occasionally it grows to the height of 14 feet it has no leaves; the flowers are in very small spikelets, which grow on the thread-like flowering branchlets which form a bushy crown to each stem; (It was used for making paper, shoes, sails, ropes, mattresses, etc. The Greek name is Biblos, from which came our word Bible--book--because books were made of the papyrus paper. This paper was always expensive among the Greeks, being worth a dollar a sheet: ED.)

Kaneh, a reed of any kind. Thus there are in general four kinds of reeds named in the Bible:

(1) The water reed; No, 1 above.

(2) A stronger reed, Arundo donax, the true reed of Egypt and Palestine, which grows 8 or 10 feet high, and is thicker than a man's thumb. It has a jointed stalk like the bamboo, and is very abundant on the Nile.

(3) The writing reed, Arundo scriptoria, was used for making pens.

(4) The papyrus; No. 2.

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