red: (1) achu, translated "reed-grass" (Ge 41:2,18; Job 8:11 margin). See FLAG. (2) 'ebheh, translated "swift," margin "reed" (Job 9:26). The "ships of reed" are the light skiffs made of plaited reeds used on the Nile; compare "vessels of papyrus" (Isa 18:2). (3) 'aghammim, translated "reeds," margin "marshes," Hebrew "pools" (Jer 51:32); elsewhere "pools" (Ex 7:19; 8:5; Isa 14:23, etc.). See POOL. (4) `aroth; achi, translated "meadows," the King James Version "paper reeds" (Isa 19:7). See MEADOW. (5) qaneh; kalamos (the English "cane" comes from Hebrew via Latin and Greek canna), "stalk" (Ge 41:5,22); "shaft" (Ex 37:17, etc.); "reed," or "reeds" (1Ki 14:15; 2Ki 18:21; Isa 36:6; 42:3; Ps 68:30, the King James Version "spearman"); "calamus" (Ex 30:23; Song 4:14; Eze 27:19); "sweet cane," margin "calamus" (Isa 43:24; Jer 6:20); "bone" (Job 31:22); used of the cross-beam of a "balance" (Isa 46:6); "a measuring reed" (Eze 40:3); "a staff of reed," i.e. a walking-stick (Isa 36:6; Eze 29:6); the "branches" of a candlestick (Ex 37:18). (6) kalamos, "a reed shaken with the wind" (Mt 11:7; Lu 7:24); "a bruised reed" (Mt 12:20); they put "a reed in his right hand" (Mt 27:29-30); "They smote his head with a reed" (Mr 15:19); "put it on a reed" (Mt 27:48; Mr 15:36); "a measuring reed" (Re 11:1; 21:15-16); "a pen" (3Jo 1:13).

See a list of verses on REED in the Bible.

It is clear that qaneh and its Greek equivalent kalamos mean many things. Some refer to different uses to which a reed is put, e.g. a cross-beam of a balance, a walking-stick, a measuring rod, and a pen (see above), but apart from this qaneh is a word used for at least two essentially different things: (1) an ordinary reed, and (2) some sweet-smelling substance.

(1) The most common reed in Palestine is the Arundo donax (Natural Order Gramineae), known in Arabic as qacabfarasi, "Persian reed." It grows in immense quantities in the Jordan valley along the river and its tributaries and at the oases near the Dead Sea, notably around `Ain Feshkhah at the northwest corner. It is a lofty reed, often 20 ft. high, of a beautiful fresh green in summer when all else is dead and dry, and of a fine appearance from a distance in the spring months when it is in full bloom and the beautiful silky panicles crown the top of every reed. The "covert of the reed" (Job 40:21) shelters a large amount of animal and bird life. This reed will answer to almost all the requirements of the above references.

See the definition of reed in the KJV Dictionary

(2) Qaneh is in Jer 6:20 qualified qaneh ha-Tobh, "sweet" or "pleasant cane," and in Ex 30:23, qeneh bhosem, "sweet calamus," or, better, a "cane of fragrance." Song 4:14; Isa 43:24; Eze 27:19 all apparently refer to the same thing, though in these passages the qaneh is unqualified. It was an ingredient of the holy oil (Ex 30:23); it was imported from a distance (Jer 6:20; Eze 27:19), and it was rare and costly (Isa 43:24). It may have been the "scented calamus" (Axorus calamus) of Pliny (NH, xii.48), or some other aromatic scented reed or flag, or, as some think, some kind of aromatic bark. The sweetness refers to the scent, not the taste.


See also the McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia.

E. W. G. Masterman

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