I. This is the rendering in the A.V. of the following words in the original. In the following account we employ the usual Scriptural and scientific authorities on the subject.
1. Usually kaneh (קָנֶה; Sept. κάλαμος, καλαμίσκος, καλάμινος, πῆχος, ἀγκών, ζυγός, πυθυήν; Vulg. culmus, calamus, arundo, fistula, statera), the generic name of a reed of any kind. It occurs in numerous passages of the Old Test., and sometimes denotes the "stalk" of wheat (Ge 41:5,22), or the "branches" of the candlestick (Ex 25; Ex 37); in Job 31:22, kanzeh denotes the bone of the arm between the elbow and the shoulder (os humersi); it was also the name of a measure of length equal to six cubits (Eze 41:8; Eze 40:5). The word is variously rendered in the A.V. by "stalk," "branch," "bone," "calamus," "reed." In the New Test. the corresponding Greek word, κάλαμος, may signify the "stalk" of plants (Mr 15:36; Mt 27:48, that of the hyssop, but this is doubtful), or "a reed" (Mt 11:7; Mt 12:20; Lu 7:24; Mr 15:19), or a "measuring-rod" (Re 11:1; Re 21:15-16), or a "pen" (3Jo 1:13).
Strand (Flor. Paloest. p. 28-30) gives the following names of the reed plants of Palestine: Saccharum Officiale, Cyperus papyrus (Papyrus antiquorum), C. rotundus, and C. esculentus, and Arundo scriptoria; but no doubt the species are numerous. See Bove (Voyage en Palest., Annal. des Scienc. Nat. 1834, p. 165): "Dans les deserts qui environnent ces montagnes j'ai trouvd plusieurs Saccharum, Milium arundinaceum et plusieurs Cyperaces." The Arundo donax, the A.Egyptiaca (?) of Bove (ibid. p. 72), is common on the banks of the Nile, and may perhaps be "the staff of the bruised reed" to which Sennacherib compared the power of Egypt (2Ki 18:21; Eze 29:6-7). Sec also Isa 42:3. The thick stem of this reed may have been used as walking-staves by the ancient Orientals; perhaps the measuring-reed was this plant. At present the dry culms of this huge grass are in much demand for fishing-rods, etc. SEE METROLOGY.
Some kind of fragrant reed is occasionally denoted by the word kaneh (Isa 44:24; Eze 27:19; Song 4:14), or more fully by keneh bosenz (קנֵה בֹשֶׂם) (see Ex 30:23), or by kanek hat- tob (קָנֶה הִטּוֹב) (Jer 6:20), which the A.V. renders "sweet cane," and "calamus." Whatever may be the substance denoted, it is certain that it was one of foreign importation, "from a far country" (Jer 6:20). Some writers (see Sprengel, Comr. in Dioscor. 1, 17) have sought to identify the kaneh bose: with the Acorns calamus, the "sweet sedge," to which they refer the κάλαμος ἀρωματικός of Dioscorides (1, 17), the κάλαμος εὐώδης of Theophrastus (Hist. Plant. 4:8, § 4), which, according to this last-named writer and Pliny (H. N. 12:22), formerly grew about a lake "between Libanus and another mountain of no note;" Strabo identifies this with the Lake of Gennesaret (Geog. 16 p. 755, ed. Kramer). Burckhardt was unable to discover any sweet-scented reed or rush near the lake, though he saw many tall reeds there. "High reeds grow along the shore, but I found none of the aromatic reeds and rushes mentioned by Strabo" (Syria, p. 319); but whatever may be the "fragrant reed" intended, it is certain that it did not grow in Syria, otherwise we cannot suppose it should be spoken of as a valuable product from a far country. Dr. Royle refers the κάλαμος ἀρωματικός of Dioscorides to a species of Androopogon, which he calls A. calamus aromaticus, a plant of remarkable fragrance, and a native of Central India, where it is used to mix with ointments on account of the delicacy of its odor (see Royle, Illustrations of Himalayan Botany, p. 425, t. 97). It is possible this may be the "reed of fragrance;" but it is hardly likely that Dioscorides, who, under the term σχοῖνος, gives a description of the Andropogon schoenanthus, should speak of a closely allied species under a totally different name. SEE CANE.
"The beasts of the reeds," in Psalm l48:30, margin, literally from the Hebrew, but rendered in the text of the A.V. "the company of spearmen," probably means the crocodiles. Yet for other interpretations see Rosenmuller ad loc. Gesenius, on Isaiah 27, 1, understands Babel. SEE CROCODILE.
2. 'Aroth (עָרוֹת; Sept. τὸ ἄχι τὸ χλώρον πᾶν) is translated "paper-reed" in Isa 19:7, the only passage where the plural noun occurs. There is not the slightest authority for this rendering of the A.V., nor is it at all probable, as Celsius (Herob. ii, 230) has remarked, that the prophet, who speaks of the paper-reed under the name gome in the preceding chapter (xv3:2), should in this one mention the same plant under a totally different name. "Aroth," says Kimchi, "is the name to designate pot-herbs and green plants." The Sept. (as above) translates it by "all the green herbage." The word is derived from 'aralh, "to be bare," or "destitute of trees;" it probably denotes the open grassy land on the banks of the Nile; and seems to be allied .to the Arabic 'ara (locus apertus, spatiosus). Michaelis (Suppl. No. 1973), Rosenmuller (Schol. in Jes. 19:7), Gesenius (Thesaur. s.v.), Maurer (Comment. s.v.), and Simon (Lex. Heb. s.v.) are all in favor of this or a similar explanation. Vitringa (Comment. in Isaiah) was of opinion that the Hebrew term denoted the papyrus, and he has been followed by J. G. Unger, who has published a dissertation on this subject (De ערות, hoc est de Papyro Frutice [Lips. 1731, 4to]). SEE PAPER- REED.
3. In one passage (Jeremiah li, 32) agndm (אֲגִם_; Sept. σύστημα, Vulg. palus) is rendered "reed" (but elsewhere "pond" or "pool"), and is there thought to designate a stockade or fort enclosed by-palisades.
II. Other Hebrew words representing, more or less accurately, various kinids of reedy plants are the following:
1. It has been made a question whether the Hebrew agmon', אִגמוֹן, which is mentioned in opposition to the palm-branch (Isa 9:13; Isa 19:15), and is translated "rush" in the A.V., does not rather mean reed. Both were, and are, used for making ropes (Sonnini, Trav. 2, 416; Pliny, 19:9; comp. Job 40:24). See Gesenius, Ewald, Knobel, and others; also Celsius, Hierobot. 1, 465 sq. SEE RUSH.
2. The Hebrew achu', אָחוּ, originally an Egyptian word (see Jerome, ad Isaiah 19:7; comp. Jablonski, Opusc. i, 45; ii, 160; Gesen. Thesaur. i, 67), occurs in Ge 41:2; Job 8:11; in the first place the A.V. has meadow, in the second rush. It seems to mean, not reed, bait "reed-grass," Carex (comp. Celsius, Hierobot. i, 340 sq.). On the other hand, suph, סוּŠ, Ex 2:3,5, growing on the Nile, but distinct from laneh, may be the sari (Pliny, 13:45). SEE FLAG.
3. The word go'me, גֹּמֶא, Gr. βύβλος, the papyrus, paper-reed (so rendered, among the old interpreters, by the Sept.; Job loc. cit.; Isa 18:2; Vulg. Isa 18:2; Syr. Isa 18:7; Arab. Ex 2:3. In the Talmud this word means rush; comp. Mishna, Erubin, 10:14. The leaves were used for binding wounds), does not belong to the genus Arundo, and is not a proper reed (called by Pliny, 24:81 akin to the reed). It is the Cyperus papyrus of Linnaeus, Class. 3 Monogynia. This plant, anciently so important, grew abundantly in the Egyptian swamps (even perhaps in those of the Nile, Pliny, 13:22; comp. v, 8. Hence Ovid, Miletaph. 15:753; Trist. 3:10:27, calls this river papyrifer; comp. Mart. 10:1, 3), and is mentioned Isa 35:7; Job 8:11; Ex 2:3; Isa 18:2. The A.V. has rush in the first two places, bulrush in the others. It is now rarely met with in Egypt (according to Minutoli, Abhandl. verm. Inhalts [Berl. 1831], vol. ii, No. 7, only at Damietta; while Pluver, Egypt. Naturgesch. p. 55, says it does not now grow in Egypt), but in Palestine — it is occasionally found at the Jordan (Von Schubert, 3:259). It has a three-edged stalk, which below bears hollow, sword-formed leaves, covering each other; it grows to a height of ten feet or more, and has above a flower cup of reddish leaves, out of which a thick body of hair-like shoots spring up (comp. Theophr. Plant. 4:9). The root is as thick as a man's arm, and is used as fuel (Dioscor. i, 115); vessels were framed of the stalks (Ex 2:3; Isa 18:2; Pliny, 6:24; 7:57, p. 417; Hard. Plutarch, Isid. c. 18; Lucan, 4, 136; Rosellini, Monument. Civ. II, 3:124; Wilkinson, 3:185 sq.), which sailed very fast (Helidor. Ethiop. 10:4). Sails, shoes, ropes, sieves, mattresses, wicks, etc., were made of the green rind (Pliny, 13:22; 18:28; 28:47; Herod. 2, 37; Veget. Veterin. 2, 57; Philo, Op. 2, 482; comp. Wilkinson, 3:62, 146), but especially paper, on the mode of preparing which comp. Pliny, 13:23 sq. (see Rosellini, Monument. Civ. II, 2, 208 sq.; Becker, Charicles, 2, 219 sq.). SEE WRITING. The plant is now called berde or berdi by the Arabs (so Job 8:11, in the Arabic). SEE PAPYRUS.
III. It will thus be seen that the reeds named in the Bible may be popularly distinguished as three.
1. The water-reed in pools, marshes, and on the shores of rivers, as of the Nile (Ex 2:3,5) and of the Jordan (1Ki 14:15; Job 8:11; Isa 19:6; Isa 35:7). The most common species are Arundo phragmites and Arundo calamagrostis (comp. Oken, Botany, 1. 805). SEE BULRUSH.
2. The stronger reed, adapted for staves and canes, and as measuring-rods (Eze 40:3 sq.; Apoc. 11:1; 21:15 sq.; 2Ki 18:21; Isa 36:6; Eze 29:6; Mt 27:29; Mishna, Shab. 17:3; Diog. Laert. Protem. 6), the Arundo denax, whose hard, woody stem reaches a height of eight feet, and is thicker than a man's thumb. This, too, is very frequent on the banks of the Nile (Forskal, Flora, p. 24; comp. Descript. de l'Egypte, 19:74).
3. The writing-reed (Arundo scriptoria) (3Jo 1:13; see Mishna, Shab. 8:5). It grows in the marshes between the Euphrates and Tigris; at Hellah, in the Persian Gulf, etc. The stalks are first soaked, then dried, and when properly cut and split make tolerable pens. Formerly the writing-reed grew in Egypt, in Asia Minor, and even in Italy (Pliny, 16:64; Martial, 14:36; comp. Beckmann, Gesch. der Erfindungen, 3:48 sq.; see on the Hebrew name, Celsius, Hierobot. 2, 312 sq.). — SEE PEN.
See, in general, Prosp. Alpin (Plant. Egypt. c. 36, p. 53) and Vesling (p. 197) upon it; Rottboll, Descr. Novar. Plant. (Hafil. 1773) i, 32 sq.; Celsius, Hierobot. ii, 137 sq.; Bodaei a Stapel, Comm. 428 sq.; Bruce, Travels, v, 13 sq., 279, with plate i; Montfaucon, in the Memoires de 'Acad. des Inscript. 6:592 sq.; Oken, Botany, i, 819 sq.