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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Fig. 182—Cyperus esculentus

This word (in the original achu) occurs in , where it is said, 'Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?' Achu occurs also twice in ; ; 'And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well-favored kine and fat-fleshed, and they fed in a meadow:' here it is rendered meadow, and must, therefore, have been considered by our translators as a general, and not a specific term.

From the context of the few passages in which achu occurs, it is evident that it indicates a plant or plants which grew in or in the neighborhood of water, and also that it, or they were suitable as pasturage for cattle. Now it is generally well known that most of the plants which grow in water, as well as many of those which grow in its vicinity, are not well suited as food for cattle; some being very watery, others very coarse in texture, and some possessed of acrid and even poisonous properties. Some species of scirpus, or club-rush, however, serve as food for cattle: S. cespitosus, for instance, is the principal food of cattle and sheep in the highlands of Scotland, from the beginning of March till the end of May. Varieties of S. maritimus, found in different countries, and a few of the numerous kinds of Cyperaceae common in Indian pastures, as Cyperus dubius and hexastachyus, are also eaten by cattle. Therefore, if any specific plant is intended, as seems implied in what goes before, it is perhaps one of the edible species of scirpus or cyperus, perhaps C. esculentus, which, however, has distinct Arabic names: or it may be a true grass; some species of panicum, for instance, which form excellent pasture in warm countries, and several of which grow luxuriantly in the neighborhood of water.

But it is well known to all acquainted with warm countries subject to excessive drought, that the only pasturage to which cattle can resort is a green strip of different grasses, with some sedges, which runs along the banks of rivers or of pieces of water, varying more or less in breadth according to the height of the bank, that is, the distance of water from the surface. Cattle emerging from rivers, which they may often be seen doing in hot countries, as has been well remarked in the Pictorial Bible on , would naturally go to such green herbage as intimated in this passage of Genesis, and which, as indicated in , could not grow without water in a warm dry country and climate.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Flag'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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