Reed — (1.) “Paper reeds” (Isa. 19:7; R.V., “reeds”). Heb. ‘aroth, properly green herbage growing in marshy places.
The reed of Egypt and Palestine is the Arundo donax, which grows to the height of 12 feet, its stalk jointed like the bamboo, “with a magnificent panicle of blossom at the top, and so slender and yielding that it will lie perfectly flat under a gust of wind, and immediately resume its upright position.” It is used to illustrate weakness (2 Kings 18:21; Ezek. 29:6), also fickleness or instability (Matt. 11:7; comp. Eph. 4:14).
A “bruised reed” (Isa. 42:3; Matt. 12:20) is an emblem of a believer weak in grace. A reed was put into our Lord’s hands in derision (Matt. 27:29); and “they took the reed and smote him on the head” (30). The “reed” on which they put the sponge filled with vinegar (Matt. 27:48) was, according to John (19:29), a hyssop stalk, which must have been of some length, or perhaps a bunch of hyssop twigs fastened to a rod with the sponge. (See CANE.)