(1.) Hebrews hedek (Proverbs 15:19), rendered "brier" in Micah 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.) Hebrews kotz (Genesis 3:18; Hosea 10:8), rendered akantha by the LXX. In the New Testament this word akantha is also rendered "thorns" (Matthew 7:16; 13:7; Hebrews 6:8). The word seems to denote any thorny or prickly plant (Jeremiah 12:13). It has been identified with the Ononis spinosa by some.
(3.) Hebrews na'atzutz (Isaiah 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.) Hebrews atad (Psalm 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.
Thorn in the flesh
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Many interpretations have been given of this passage.
(1.) Roman Catholic writers think that it denotes suggestions to impiety.
(2.) Luther, Calvin, and other Reformers interpret the expression as denoting temptation to unbelief.
(3.) Others suppose the expression refers to "a pain in the ear or head," epileptic fits, or, in general, to some severe physical infirmity, which was a hindrance to the apostle in his work (Comp. 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 10:10; 11:30; Galatians 4:13, 14; 6:17). With a great amount of probability, it has been alleged that his malady was defect of sight, consequent on the dazzling light which shone around him at his conversion, acute opthalmia. This would account for the statements in Galatians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 10:10; also Acts 23:5, and for his generally making use of the help of an amanuensis (Comp. Romans 16:22, etc.).
(4.) Another view which has been maintained is that this "thorn" consisted in an infirmity of temper, to which he occasionally gave way, and which interfered with his success (Comp. Acts 15:39; 23:2-5). If we consider the fact, "which the experience of God's saints in all ages has conclusively established, of the difficulty of subduing an infirmity of temper, as well as the pain, remorse, and humiliation such an infirmity is wont to cause to those who groan under it, we may be inclined to believe that not the least probable hypothesis concerning the `thorn' or `stake' in the flesh is that the loving heart of the apostle bewailed as his sorest trial the misfortune that, by impatience in word, he had often wounded those for whom he would willingly have given his life" (Lias's Second Corinthians, Introd.).