The expression in the Authorized Version (Isa. 19:7), "the paper
reeds by the brooks," is in the Revised Version more correctly
"the meadows by the Nile." The words undoubtedly refer to a
grassy place on the banks of the Nile fit for pasturage.
In 2 John 1:12 the word is used in its proper sense. The
material so referred to was manufactured from the papyrus, and
hence its name. The papyrus (Heb. gome) was a kind of bulrush
(q.v.). It is mentioned by Job (8:11) and Isaiah (35:7). It was
used for many purposes. This plant (Papyrus Nilotica) is now
unknown in Egypt; no trace of it can be found. The unaccountable
disappearance of this plant from Egypt was foretold by Isaiah
(19:6, 7) as a part of the divine judgment on that land. The
most extensive papyrus growths now known are in the marshes at
the northern end of the lake of Merom.
(Heb., or rather Egyptian, ahu, Job 8:11), rendered "meadow" in
Gen. 41:2, 18; probably the Cyperus esculentus, a species of
rush eaten by cattle, the Nile reed. It also grows in Israel.
In Ex. 2:3, 5, Isa. 19:6, it is the rendering of the Hebrew
_suph_, a word which occurs frequently in connection with _yam_;
as _yam suph_, to denote the "Red Sea" (q.v.) or the sea of
weeds (as this word is rendered, Jonah 2:5). It denotes some
kind of sedge or reed which grows in marshy places. (See PAPER
¯T0002840, REED ¯T0003087.)
(1.) "Paper reeds" (Isa. 19:7; R.V., "reeds"). Heb. 'aroth,
properly green herbage growing in marshy places.
(2.) Heb. kaneh (1 Kings 14:15; Job 40:21; Isa. 19:6), whence
the Gr. kanna, a "cane," a generic name for a reed of any kind.
The reed of Egypt and Israel 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
This word has a comprehensive meaning in Scripture. In the Old
Testament it is the rendering of the Hebrew word _sepher_, which
properly means a "writing," and then a "volume" (Ex. 17:14;
Deut. 28:58; 29:20; Job 19:23) or "roll of a book" (Jer. 36:2,
Books were originally written on skins, on linen or cotton
cloth, and on Egyptian papyrus, whence our word "paper." The
leaves of the book were generally written in columns, designated
by a Hebrew word properly meaning "doors" and "valves" (Jer.
36:23, R.V., marg. "columns").
Among the Hebrews books were generally rolled up like our
maps, or if very long they were rolled from both ends, forming
two rolls (Luke 4:17-20). Thus they were arranged when the
writing was on flexible materials; but if the writing was on
tablets of wood or brass or lead, then the several tablets were
bound together by rings through which a rod was passed.
A sealed book is one whose contents are secret (Isa. 29:11;
Rev. 5:1-3). To "eat" a book (Jer. 15:16; Ezek. 2:8-10; 3:1-3;
Rev. 10:9) is to study its contents carefully.
The book of judgment (Dan. 7:10) refers to the method of human
courts of justice as illustrating the proceedings which will
take place at the day of God's final judgment.
The book of the wars of the Lord (Num. 21:14), the book of
Jasher (Josh. 10:13), and the book of the chronicles of the
kings of Judah and Israel (2 Chr. 25:26), were probably ancient
documents known to the Hebrews, but not forming a part of the
The book of life (Ps. 69:28) suggests the idea that as the
redeemed form a community or citizenship (Phil. 3:20; 4:3), a
catalogue of the citizens' names is preserved (Luke 10:20; Rev.
20:15). Their names are registered in heaven (Luke 10:20; Rev.
The book of the covenant (Ex. 24:7), containing Ex.
20:22-23:33, is the first book actually mentioned as a part of
the written word. It contains a series of laws, civil, social,
and religious, given to Moses at Sinai immediately after the
delivery of the decalogue. These were written in this "book."