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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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(1) The Hebrew atad , Greek ramnos (Judges 9:14-15; Psalms 58:9); the Lycium Εuropoeum or boxthorn, in southern Europe and northern Africa, common in hedges.

(2) Chedek; Proverbs 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 (Proverbs 20:4; Proverbs 22:13); Micah 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 (2 Samuel 23:6-7). Thorns were the curse on the ground (Genesis 3:18). Jesus as "King of the curse" wore a crown of thorns (Galatians 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" (Isaiah 55:13). Ezekiel 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.

(4) Dardar Genesis 3:18, "thistles"; Greek triboloi , Latin tribuli (Matthew 7:16); the Τribulus terrestris , or else Centsurea calcitrapa , "star thistle."

(5) Shamir , the Arabic samur , a kind of sidra. The Ρaliurus aculeatus ("Christ's thorn") and Ζizyphus spina Christi , growing 20 or 30 ft. high, the Arab nebk , abound in Palestine; the nebk fringes the Jordan. The natsowts of Isaiah 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 (Jeremiah 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 (Ecclesiastes 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 (Nahum 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. Isaiah 27:4; Isaiah 33:12; Hebrews 6:8; Psalms 118:12; Psalms 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.

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Thorn'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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Thousand Years