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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

 Exodus 9:31, "the flax was bolled," i.e. "in blossom"; the boll, related to bowl and ball, being the pod. Marking the time, the end of February or beginning of March. Linen was exclusively used by the priests. Pliny, 19:1, notes four kinds in Egypt, and 24 mentions Tanis (Zoan) as famous for flax. In evenness of threads without knot or break Egyptian linen exceeded modern manufacture. (Wilkinson on Herod., 2:37, p. 54.) Solomon imported it from Egypt ( 1 Kings 10:28;  Proverbs 7:16;  Ezekiel 27:7). The processes of manufacture are represented on Egyptian tombs as at Benihassan. The microscope shows the doth on the mummies to be linen. It was grown in Canaan before Joshua's ( Joshua 2:6) conquest; the stalks were dried on the flat roofs by exposure to the sun's heat; later the drying was done in ovens.

The combing is noticed in  Isaiah 19:9, "they that work in combed (so Seriguot means) flax." The rich alone wore fine linen ( Luke 16:19). Wilkinson mentions Egyptian linen with 540 (or 270 double) threads in one inch in the warp; most modern cambric has but 160 (Barnes). The corslet of Amasis king of Egypt was of linen threads, each having 360 strands or filaments (Herodotus). Its cultivation in northern Israel is alluded to,  Hosea 2:5;  Hosea 2:9. "Fine linen, clean and white," is the emblem of "the righteousness (distributively) of saints," the bride's attire for" the marriage of the Lamb,"  Revelation 19:7-8 (each saint having for himself Christ's righteousness imputed for justification, and imparted by the Spirit for sanctification).

The tearing up of the flax from its native soil, its exposure to the scorching sun, its being torn by the comb's long teeth, and sunk in the water with stones attached, so as ultimately to be transfigured into raiment white as snow, illustrate how the Christian is prepared for grace and glory through long and varied afflictions now. In  Isaiah 42:3, "the smoking flax He shall not quench," i.e. the flax wick of the lamp. The believer is the lamp (Greek,  Matthew 5:15;  John 5:35), his conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit is the wick; "smoking "means dimly burning, smoldering, the flame not extinct; "bruised" in himself, but having some spark lighted from above, Christ will supply such a one with grace as with oil, and will not stifle the little flame. So the faint light of nature in the Gentiles, smoldering amidst the smoke of error, He not only does not quench, but clears away its mists, and superadds the light of revelation.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

פשתה ,  Exodus 9:31;  Leviticus 13:47-48;  Leviticus 13:52;  Leviticus 13:59;  Deuteronomy 22:11;  Joshua 2:6;  Judges 15:14;  Proverbs 31:13;  Isaiah 19:9;  Isaiah 42:3;  Isaiah 43:17;  Jeremiah 13:1;  Ezekiel 40:3;  Ezekiel 44:17-18;  Hosea 2:5;  Hosea 2:9; λινον ,  Matthew 12:20;  Revelation 15:6; a plant very common, and too well known to need a description. It is a vegetable upon which the industry of mankind has been exercised with the greatest success and utility. On passing a field of it, one is struck with astonishment when he considers that this apparently insignificant plant may, by the labour and ingenuity of man, be made to assume an entirely new form and appearance, and to contribute to pleasure and health, by furnishing us with agreeable and ornamental apparel. This word Mr. Parkhurst thinks is derived from the verb פשט , to strip, because the substance which we term flax is properly the bark or fibrous part of the vegetable, pilled or stripped off the stalks. From time immemorial Egypt was celebrated for the production or manufacture of flax. Wrought into garments, it constituted the principal dress of the inhabitants, and the priests never put on any other kind of clothing. The fine linen of Egypt is celebrated in all ancient authors, and its superior excellence mentioned in the sacred Scriptures. The manufacture of flax is still carried on in that country, and many writers take notice of it. Rabbi Benjamin Tudela mentions the manufactory at Damiata; and Egmont and Heyman describe the article as being of a beautiful colour, and so finely spun that the threads are hardly discernible.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]

A well-known plant, upon which the industry of mankind has been exercised with the greatest success and utility,  Joshua 2:6   Proverbs 1:13 .

Moses speaks of the flax in Egypt,  Exodus 9:31 , which country has been celebrated, from time immemorial, for its production and manufacture. The "fine linen of Egypt," which was manufactured from this article, is spoken of for its superior excellence, in Scripture,  Proverbs 7:16   Ezekiel 27:7 . It is however, probable that fine cotton is sometimes to be understood when the Byssus is spoken of. Most of the linen found wrapped around Egyptian mummies will hardly compare with our common sheetings. But some specimens are found of most remarkable fineness; one containing 152 threads in the warp, and 71 in the woof, to each square inch; and another, 270 double threads in the warp, and 110 in the woof, per inch. See Cotton and Linen .

The prophet Isaiah, in speaking of the gentleness of the Messiah, makes use of a proverbial expression, which is also quoted by Matthew and applied to Jesus: "The bruised reed he shall not break, and the smoking flax he shall not quench,"  Isaiah 42:3   Matthew 12:20 . Here "flax" is used for the wick of a lamp or taper, which was usually made of flax. He will not break a reed already bruised and ready to be broken, nor extinguish a flickering, dying lamp, just ready to expire; that is, he will not oppress his humble and penitent followers, but cherish the feeblest beginnings of true grace.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Flax. A well-known plant with yellowish stem and bright-blue flowers. Its fibres are employed in the manufacture of linen. The root contains an oil, and after the oil is expressed is used as a food for cattle. Egypt was celebrated for the culture of flax and the manufacture of linen.

The spinning was anciently done by women of noble birth. It seems probable that the cultivation of flax for the purpose of the manufacture of linen was by no means confined to Egypt, but that, originating in India, it spread over Asia at a very early period of antiquity.

That it was grown in Palestine even before the conquest of that country by the Israelites appears from Joshua.  Joshua 2:6. The various processes employed in preparing the flax for manufacture into cloth are indicated:

1. The drying process.

2. The peeling of the stalks and separation of the fibres.

3. The hackling.  Isaiah 19:9.

That flax was one of the most important crops in Palestine appears from  Hosea 2:5;  Hosea 2:9.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

FLAX ( pishtah ). The plant Linum usitatissimum , and the prepared fibres used for making linen. It was early cultivated in Palestine (  Joshua 2:6 ); the failure of the flax was one of God’s judgments (  Hosea 2:9 ). The plant is about two to three feet high, with pretty blue flowers; the flax is said to be ‘bolled’ (  Exodus 9:31 ) when the seed vessels reach maturity and the plant is ready for gathering. The stalks were dried on the housetops (  Joshua 2:6 ), and then soaked in water and the fibre combed out (  Isaiah 19:9 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). The ‘tow’ of   Isaiah 43:17 is teased-out flax. The oil of the seeds is the well-known linseed oil.

E. W. G. Masterman.

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

Linum usitatissimumro  Exodus 9:31 Joshua 2:6 Proverbs 31:13  Joshua 2:6 Isaiah 19:9 Judges 16:9 Isaiah 1:31

Flax fibers were also used to make torches and lamp wicks.  Isaiah 43:17 pictures armies as a wick which the Lord would extinguish. In   Isaiah 42:3 the Servant of the Lord is one who will not quench a dimly burning wick. The picture suggests one who will help and comfort the powerless rather than bring harsh judgment. Matthew understood Jesus' ministry as the fulfillment of this Scripture (  Matthew 12:20 ).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [7]

1: Λίνον (Strong'S #3043 — Noun Neuter — linon — lee'-non )

primarily denotes "flax" (Eng., "linen"); then, that which is made of it, "a wick of a lamp,"  Matthew 12:20; several ancient mss. have the word in  Revelation 15:6 (AV only, "linen"). See Linen.

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(1): ( n.) The skin or fibrous part of the flax plant, when broken and cleaned by hatcheling or combing.

(2): ( n.) A plant of the genus Linum, esp. the L. usitatissimum, which has a single, slender stalk, about a foot and a half high, with blue flowers. The fiber of the bark is used for making thread and cloth, called linen, cambric, lawn, lace, etc. Linseed oil is expressed from the seed.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

pishtah, λίνον. The common plant from which linen is made.  Exodus 9:31;  Joshua 2:6;  Proverbs 31:13;  Isaiah 42:3;  Ezekiel 40:3;  Hosea 2:5,9;  Matthew 12:20 .

King James Dictionary [10]

FLAX, n.

1. A plant of the genus Linum, consisting of a single slender stalk, the skin or herl of which is used for making thread and cloth, called linen, cambric, lawn, lace, &c. The skin consists of fine fibers, which may be so separated as to be spun into threads as fine as silk. 2. The skin or fibrous part of the plant when broken and cleaned by hatcheling or combing.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [11]

 Isaiah 42:3 (b) This interesting type is used to illustrate the struggling Christian who is endeavoring to serve the Lord to the best of his ability, but is not doing it very well. This one is not to be discouraged by those who are better taught. (See also  Matthew 12:20).

Easton's Bible Dictionary [12]

 Exodus 9:31 Joshua 2:6  Leviticus 13:48,52,59 Deuteronomy 22:11Linen

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [13]

FLAX. —See Smoking Flax.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

flaks פשת , pesheth , also פשתּה , pishtāh  ; λίνον , lı́non ( Matthew 12:20 )): The above Hebrew words are applied (1) to the plant: "The flax was in bloom" (the King James Version "bolled";  Exodus 9:31 ); (2) The "stalks of flax," literally, "flax of the tree," put on the roof to dry ( Joshua 2:6 ); (3) to the fine fibers used for lighting: the King James Version "tow," "flax," the Revised Version (British and American). "A dimly burning wick will he not quench" ( Isaiah 42:3 ); "They are quenched as a wick" ( Isaiah 43:17 ). The thought is perhaps of a scarcely lighted wick just kindled with difficulty from a spark. (4) In  Isaiah 19:9 mention is made of "combed flax," i.e. flax hackled ready for spinning (compare   Hosea 2:5 ,  Hosea 2:9;  Proverbs 31:13 ). The reference in  Judges 15:14 is to flax twisted into cords. (5) In   Judges 16:9;  Isaiah 1:31 , mention is made of נערת , ne‛ōreth , "tow," literally, something "shaken off" - as the root implies - from flax. (6) The plural form pishtı̄m is used in many passages for linen, or linen garments, e.g.  Leviticus 13:47 ,  Leviticus 13:48 ,  Leviticus 13:52 ,  Leviticus 13:59;  Deuteronomy 22:11;  Jeremiah 13:1 ("linen girdle");   Ezekiel 44:17 f. Linen was in the earliest historic times a favorite material for clothes. The Jewish priestly garments were of pure linen. Egyptian mummies were swathed in linen. Several other Hebrew words were used for linen garments. See Linen .

Flax is the product of Linum usitatissimum , a herbaceous plant which has been cultivated from the dawn of history. It is perennial and grows to a height of 2 to 3 ft.; it has blue flowers and very fibrous stalks. The tough fibers of the latter, after the decay and removal of the softer woody and gummy material, make up the crude "flax." Linseed, linseed oil and oilcake are useful products of the same plant.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

From the numerous references to flax and linen, there is no doubt that the plant was extensively cultivated, not only in Egypt, but also in Palestine. As to Egypt we have proof in the mummy cloth being made of linen, and also in the representations of the flax cultivation in the paintings of the Grotto of el Kab, which represent the whole process with the utmost clearness; and numerous testimonies might be adduced from ancient authors, of the esteem in which the linen of Egypt was held. Flax continues to be extensively cultivated in the present day. That it was also much cultivated in Palestine, and well known to the Hebrews, we have proofs in the number of times it is mentioned; as in , where Rahab is described as concealing the two Hebrew spies with the stalks of flax which she had laid in order upon the roof. In several passages, as;;;;;; , we find it mentioned as forming different articles of clothing, as girdles, cords, and bands. In , the careful housewife 'seeketh wool and flax, and worketh it willingly with her hands.'

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Flax'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/f/flax.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.