Three species of reed grow in Israel on the banks of rivers and swamps. Two of them, Phragmites communis and Arundo donax, are the kaneh of the Bible and rabbinical literature; the third, Saccharum biflorum, seems to be the biblical agmon. These species also grow on the banks of the Nile. In the scriptural parable "the bruised reed" that cannot be depended on and even inflicts harm symbolizes treacherous Egypt (Isa. 36:6; Ezek. 29:6–7), and it is mentioned as withering during the drying-up of the Nile. The behemoth dwells "in the covert of the reed and the fens" (Job 40: 21), and is therefore called "the wild beast of the reeds" (Ps. 68:31). The reed standing in the water and shaking in the wind in the prophecy of ahijah symbolized the Israelite nation shaking from the many blows inflicted upon it (I Kings 14:15). According to the Midrash: "The curse with which Ahijah of Shiloh cursed Israel is preferable to the blessing of the wicked Balaam. Balaam praised them as cedars (Num. 24:6) while Ahijah cursed them as 'the reed which is shaken.' The reed stands in water and, although bruised and bent, recovers. It has many roots so that even if all the winds of the world blow upon it, they do not move it from its place, but it sways with them and when the wind ceases it remains standing in its place." Hence, concludes the moralist, "a man should always be as pliant as a reed and not as hard as the cedar." As a result, the reed merited that the scroll of the law be written with it. Reeds had many uses: for roofing (Gen. R. 1:8), for making partitions (Tosef., Er. 2:4), mats (Kel. 17:17), scales (Kel. 17:16), flutes (Tosef., Ar. 2:3), and pens (kolmos, "pen" is derived from calamus, "reed," Ta'an, 20b). Some grew it in gardens (Tosef., Dem. 7, end). The pay for cutting reeds was low, hence the designation katla kanya be'agma ("cutter of reeds") for a person of little worth (Sanh. 33a, et al.). Reeds were much used for making arrows, the Midrash noting that Israel lacks nothing – "even reeds for arrows" (Eccles. R. 2:8, no. 2). In this connection the words of Pliny are instructive: "The peoples of the East wage war with the aid of the reed, they strengthen their arrowheads with it and give wings to death by putting feathers into the reeds" (Natural History, 16:159). Agmon is mentioned a number of times in the Bible as a slender plant, shaking in the wind and bowing its head, its head being the thick inflorescence shaped like a tail (Isa. 9–13). Its thin stalk was used for stringing fish (Job 40:26). The word is connected with agam ("swamp"). The scriptural descriptions of agmon fit Saccharum biflorum, the slenderest of the reeds common in Israel.   -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Loew, Flora, 1 (1928), 662–85; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), index; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 288–93. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 146. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Reed —   [riːd],    1) Sir (seit 1952) Carol, britischer Filmregisseur, * London 30. 12. 1906, ✝ ebenda 25. 4. 1976; kam 1924 (als Schauspieler) zum Theater; ab 1935 Filmregisseur; während des Krieges Dokumentarist.   Filme: Die Sterne blicken herab… …   Universal-Lexikon

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