(1.) Heb hedek (Pr 15:19), rendered "brier" in Mic 7:4. Some thorny plant, of the Solanum family, suitable for hedges. This is probably the so-called "apple of Sodom," which grows very abundantly in the Jordan valley. "It is a shrubby plant, from 3 to 5 feet high, with very branching stems, thickly clad with spines, like those of the English brier, with leaves very large and woolly on the under side, and thorny on the midriff."
(2.) Heb kotz (Ge 3:18; Ho 10:8), rendered akantha by the LXX. In the New Testament this word akantha is also rendered "thorns" (Mt 7:16; 13:7; Heb 6:8). The word seems to denote any thorny or prickly plant (Jer 12:13). It has been identified with the Ononis spinosa by some.
(3.) Heb na'atzutz (Isa 7:19; 55:13). This word has been interpreted as denoting the Zizyphus spina Christi, or the jujube-tree. It is supposed by some that the crown of thorns placed in wanton cruelty by the Roman soldiers on our Saviour's brow before his crucifixion was plaited of branches of this tree. It overruns a great part of the Jordan valley. It is sometimes called the lotus-tree. "The thorns are long and sharp and recurved, and often create a festering wound." It often grows to a great size. (See Crown of thorns.)
(4.) Heb atad (Ps 58:9) is rendered in the LXX. and Vulgate by Rhamnus, or Lycium Europoeum, a thorny shrub, which is common all over Palestine. From its resemblance to the box it is frequently called the box-thorn.
(See BRAMBLE, (See BRIER.)
(2) Chedek; Pr 15:19, "the way of the slothful is as an hedge of thorns," i.e. he sees difficulties where all is plain to the willing and resolute (Pr 20:4; 22:13); Mic 7:4, "the best of them is as a brier (thorn) ... sharper than a thorn hedge," pricking all who come in contact with them, a vivid image of the bad; a single thorn is sometimes two inches long, as sharp as a pin, and. as hard as a bone (2Sa 23:6-7). Thorns were the curse on the ground (Ge 3:18). Jesus as "King of the curse" wore a crown of thorns (Ga 3:13). So the blessing shall come in the regenerated earth, "instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree" (Isa 55:13). Eze 28:24, "there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor any grieving thorn of all round about them"; none, first, to ensnare Israel into sin (as a brier catches one's garment), then as the thorn to be the instrument of punishing them.
(3) Choach, "thistles" (Job 31:40); some fast growing prickly weed.
(5) Shamir, the Arabic samur, a kind of sidra. The Paliurus aculeatus ("Christ's thorn") and Zizyphus spina Christi, growing 20 or 30 ft. high, the Arab nebk, abound in Palestine; the nebk fringes the Jordan. The natsowts of Isa 7:19 was probably some zizyphus. Christ's crown of thorns was probably platted of its flexible, round, thorny branches, so as to resemble in mockery the green garlands with which generals and emperors used to be crowned. The balm of Gilead is said to have been procured from the Spins Christi, by incision in the bark; antitypically, our healing comes from His wound.
As King of the curse He wore the crown of thorns, to which the ground was doomed by man's sin; and from the thorns He extracts the medicine to heal our incurable wound (Jer 8:22). Six species of thistle (carduus) have been noticed between Rama and Jerusalem. The thorny ononis or "rest harrow" also abounds in Palestine. Thorns were often used for fuel (Ec 7:6), their "crackling" answers to the fool's loud merriment which hurries on his doom; dried cow dung was the common fuel; its slowness of burning contrasts with the quickness with which the thorns blaze to their end (Na 1:10).
As thorns "folden together" so that they cannot be disentangled and thrown into the fire in a mass, so the Assyrians shall be. Isa 27:4; 33:12; Heb 6:8; Ps 118:12; 58:9, "before your pots can feel the thorns He shall take them away as with a whirlwind both living and in His wrath": proverbial; explain rather before your pots' contents can feel the heat of the thorns burning beneath, He will with a whirlwind take the wicked away, whether the flesh in the pot (i.e. the plans of the wicked against the godly) be raw (literally, living) or sodden (literally, glowing); or else "He will take them (the wicked) away, whether green (not yet reached by the fire) or burning." Travelers in the desert often have the just kindled fire and all their preparations swept away by a sudden wind. Science regards thorns as undeveloped branches (as in the hawthorn; but prickles as in the bramble and rose are only hardened hairs); a specimen of the arrest which the fall put on the development of what otherwise would have been good; powers for good turned to hurt through sin.
THORN. A general name for several kinds of prickly plants. 1. In the curse denounced against the earth, Ge 3:18, its produce is threatened to be "thorns and thistles," ??? ?????, in the Septuagint ??????? ??? ?????????. St. Paul uses the same words, Heb 6:8, where the last is rendered "briers;" they are also found Ho 10:8. The word kutz is put for "thorns," in other places, as Ex 22:6; Jg 8:7; Eze 2:6; 28:24; but we are uncertain whether it means a specific kind of thorn, or may be a generic name for all plants of a thorny kind. In the present instance it seems to be general for all those obnoxious plants, shrubs, &c, by which the labours of the husbandman are impeded, and which are only fit for burning. If the word denotes a particular plant, it may be the "rest-harrow," a pernicious prickly weed, which grows promiscuously with the large thistles in the uncultivated grounds, and covers entire fields and plains, in Egypt and Palestine. From the resemblance of the Hebrew dardar, to the Arabic word dardargi, Scheuchzer supposes the cnicus to be intended.
2. ???, from its etymology, must be a kind of thorn, with incurvated spines, like fish hooks, similar to those of the North American "witch hazel." Celsius says that the same word, and of the same original in Arabic, is the" black thorn," or "sloe tree," the prunus spinosa of Linnaeus.
3. ?????. It is impossible to determine what plants are intended by this word. Meninski says that serbin, in the Persic language, is the name of a tree bearing thorns. In Ec 7:6, and Na 1:10, they are mentioned as fuel which quickly burns up; and in Ho 2:6, as obstructions or hedges; it may be the lycium Afrum.
4. ????, mentioned Jos 23:13; Eze 2:6; 28:24. From the vexatious character ascribed to this thorn in the places just referred to, compared with Nu 33:55; Jg 2:3; it is probably the kantuffa, as described by Bruce.
5. By ????, Nu 33:55, may be intended goads, or sharp-pointed sticks, like those with which cattle were driven.
7. The word ????, Nu 33:55; Jos 23:13; Isa 5:5. It seems, from its application, to describe a bad kind of thorn. Hiller supposes it to be the vepris. Perhaps it is the rhamnus paliurus, a deciduous plant or tree, a native of Palestine, Spain, and Italy. It will grow nearly to the height of fourteen feet, and is armed with sharp thorns, two of which are at the insertion of each branch, one of them straight and upright, the other bent backward.
8. ??????, translated "briers," Jg 8:16. "There is no doubt but this word means a sharp, jagged kind of plant: the difficulty is to fix on one, where so many offer themselves. The Septuagint preserves the original word. We should hardly think Gideon went far to seek these plants. The thorns are expressly said to be from the wilderness, or common hard by; probably the barkanim were from the same place. In our country this would lead us to the blackberry bushes on our commons; but it might not be so around Succoth. There is a plant mentioned by Hasselquist, whose name and properties somewhat resemble those which are required in the barkanim of this passage: "Nabka paliurus Athenaei, is the nabka of the Arabs. There is every appearance that this is the tree which furnished the crown of thorns which was put on the head of our Lord. It is common in the east. A plant more proper for this purpose could not be selected; for it is armed with thorns, its branches are pliant, and its leaf of a deep green like that of ivy. Perhaps the enemies of Christ chose this plant, in order to add insult to injury by employing a wreath approaching in appearance that which was used to crown emperors and generals." In the New Testament, the Greek word translated "thorn," is ??????; Mt 7:16; 13:7; 27:29; Joh 19:2. The note of Bishop Pearce on Mt 27:29, is this: "The word ??????? may as well be the plural genitive case of the word ???????, as of ??????: if of the latter, it is rightly translated 'of thorns,' but the former would signify what we call 'bear's foot,' and the French branche ursine. This is not of the thorny kind of plants, but is soft and smooth. Virgil calls it mollis acanthus. So does Pliny; and Pliny the elder says that it is laevis, 'smooth;' and that it is one of those plants that are cultivated in gardens. I have somewhere read, but cannot at present recollect where, that this soft and smooth herb was very common in and about Jerusalem. I find nothing in the New Testament concerning this crown which Pilate's soldiers put on the head of Jesus, to incline one to think that it was of thorns, and intended, as is usually supposed, to put him to pain. The reed put into his hand, and the scarlet robe on his back, were meant only as marks of mockery and contempt. One may also reasonably judge by the soldiers being said to plat this crown, that it was not composed of such twigs and leaves as were of a thorny nature. I do not find that it is mentioned by any of the primitive Christian writers as an instance of the cruelty used toward our Saviour before he was led to crucifixion, till the time of Tertullian, who lived after Jesus' death at the distance of above one hundred and sixty years. He indeed seems to have understood ??????? in the sense of thorns, and says, 'Quale oro te, Jesus Christus sertum pro utrogue sexu subiit? Ex spinis, opinor, et tribulis.' [What kind of a crown, I beseech you, did Jesus Christ sustain? One made of thorns and thistles, I think.] The total silence of Polycarp, Barnabas, Clemens Romanus, and all the other Christian writers whose works are now extant, and who wrote before Tertullian, in particular, will give some weight to incline one to think that this crown was not platted with thorns. But as this is a point on which we have not sufficient evidence, I leave it almost in the same state of uncertainty in which I found it." See GARDEN.