What Does the Bible Say About Reeds? Understanding the Symbolism

Reeds are mentioned several times in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. They have been used both literally and symbolically, and understanding their meaning can give us a deeper understanding of the word of God.

  1. Reeds in the Bible
  2. The Symbolism of Reeds
    1. Fragility
    2. Weakness
    3. Humility
    4. Usefulness
  3. Conclusion

Reeds in the Bible

The word "reed" appears 23 times in the Bible, and it is used to describe different things:

  • Plant: In several instances, the word "reed" simply refers to a plant. For example, in Isaiah 19:6, the prophet refers to "the rivers shall become foul; the streams of Egypt shall be diminished and dried up; the reeds and rushes shall wither away."
  • Instrument: In some cases, "reed" is used to describe a musical instrument. In 1 Kings 14:15, the prophet Ahijah says to Jeroboam, "The Lord will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers."
  • Measurement: Reeds were also used as a unit of measurement. In Ezekiel 40:3, the prophet describes a vision he had of a man with a measuring reed in his hand, measuring the temple of God.

The Symbolism of Reeds

Reeds are often used symbolically in the Bible, representing different things depending on the context. Here are some examples:


Reeds are delicate plants that can easily be broken or uprooted. In Matthew 11:7, Jesus asks the crowds, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?" Here, the reed represents something fragile and easily swayed.


Similarly, reeds can also represent weakness. In 2 Kings 18:21, the Assyrian king taunts the people of Judah, saying, "Behold, you trust in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him." Here, the reed symbolizes the weakness of Egypt, which cannot offer real protection.


Reeds can also represent humility. In Matthew 12:20, the prophet Isaiah is quoted as saying, "A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory." Here, the reed represents a person who is humble and contrite in spirit.


Finally, reeds can symbolize usefulness. In Exodus 2:3, Moses' mother puts him in a "basket of bulrushes" and places it in the Nile river. The word translated as "bulrushes" is the Hebrew word "gome," which is a type of reed. Here, the reed is used to create a vessel that saves Moses' life.


Reeds are a common motif in the Bible, and their meaning varies depending on the context. They can represent fragility, weakness, humility, or usefulness. Understanding the symbolism of reeds can give us a deeper understanding of the word of God and help us apply its lessons to our lives.

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