botanical background


order: Poales

family: Poaceae

genus: Phragmites

species: common reed (Phragmites australis) 

attributes: bluegrass up to four meters in height

origin: unkown 

habitat: all around the world


in the Bible

And a man went from the house of Levi and took a daughter of Levi as his wife. And the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw him, that he was beautiful, she hid him three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of papyrus for him, and daubed it with bitumen and with pitch, and put the child in it. And she laid it in the reeds by the river's edge. And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along by the riverside. And when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her slave-girl to bring it.

Exodus 2,1-5


The Old Testament has different terms referring to reed, while the New Testament reads kalamos (κάλαμος).

Common reed is one of the most frequent reed plants. It prefers to grow in shallow water. A multitude of text passages describes the versatile use of reed, for example in baskets and mats for everyday use (Hi 40,26) and arrows or flutes (1 Kings 1,39f.; Mt 9,23).

The story of Moses describes that the newborn is hidden in the reed along the Nile. This river has a special meaning in the Old Testament, because it it responsible for Egypt‘s fertility, which associates the Nile with harvest. It is currently the longest river on Earth.

The character Moses is of chief importance for the Old Testament, as is highlighted in the Luther translation. He called the first five books of the Old testament the five books of Moses.


mentions: several

other text passages (selected):

Genesis 41,2-18

Exodus 2,3-5.8

Matthew 9,23 (flute)

1.Kings 14,15

2.Kings 18,21

Hesekiel 40,5

3. John 13 (ink and feather)

Jesaja 58,5

Hiob 40,26



Becking, Bob: JHWH, in Das wissenschaftliche Bibellexikon im Internet (Mai 2006), URL: (abgerufen 01.05.2023).

Gertz, Jan Christian: Mose, in Das wissenschaftliche Bibellexikon im Internet (Aug. 2008), URL: (abgerufen 01.05.2023).

Hoffmann, Friedhelm: Nil, in Das wissenschaftliche Bibellexikon im Internet (April 2009), URL: (abgerufen 01.05.2023).

Riede, Peter: Schilf, in Das wissenschaftliche Bibellexikon im Internet (April 2018), URL: bibellexikon/lexikon/sachwort/anzeigen/details/schilf/ch/7357d1a1fb14e1e183943c5a25081a20/(abgerufen 01.05.2023).

Modern King James Version.

© Botanischer Garten, Uni Münster
© Botanischer Garten, Uni Münster
© Botanischer Garten, Uni Münster
© Bibelmuseum Münster
© Bibelmuseum Münster
© Bibelmuseum Münster