MEADOW (Heb. ’āhû in Gen.41.2, Gen.41.18; ma‘arēh in Judg.20.33). The first word, meaning “reeds,” would make meadow to be a place where reeds grow. The word comes from an Egyptian word meaning “marshy ground.” The second word implies a portion of land without trees.
prob. reed grass
, marshy vegetation
, prob. meadow
, moist area
, perhaps open
, treeless space
Defined as lush pastures, meadows are scarcely characteristic of hot, dry Pal., and the term, which occurs in only two passages in the KJV, is eliminated from the RSV. Thus the “meadows” of Gibeah (Judg 20:33), given slight textual emendation, means either “west of” (RSV) or “the cave of.” It is “reed grass” (Gen 41:2, 18) or “papyrus” which feeds the cattle by the Nile, and similar vegetation is alluded to in Job 8:11; Hosea 13:15 (RSV), and perhaps Isaiah 19:6.
Grassy meadows also occur in rainier uplands as in Galilee and Lebanon, and in moist patches near springs, wells, streams and irrigation channels. The presence of the latter often is indicated by the occurrence of “Abel” in place names such as Abel-meholah, the “meadow of the dance” (Judg 7:22), and such “meadows,” occurring sporadically throughout the E, are naturally the most typical of Bible lands.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(1) `aroth, "the meadows (the King James Version "paper reeds") by the Nile" (Isa 19:7); ma`areh-gabha`, the King James Version "meadows of Gibeah," the Revised Version (British and American) "Maareh-geba," the Revised Version margin "the meadow of Geba, or Gibeah" (Jud 20:33); from `arah, "to be naked"; compare Arabic ariya, "to be naked," `ara’a’, "a bare tract of land." `Aroth and ma`areh signify tracts bare of trees.
(2) ’achu, in Pharaoh’s dream of the kine, the King James Version "meadow," the Revised Version (British and American) "reed grass" (Ge 41:2,18). ’Achu is found also in Job 8:11, the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "flag," the Revised Version margin "reed-grass." According to Gesenius, achu is an Egyptian word denoting the vegetation of marshy ground.