WEEDS (סוּף, H6068). The word “weed” occurs once, i.e. in Jonah 2:5—the “weeds were wrapped about my head.” The reference is to seaweed, and not to the ordinary weeds known to man on earth.
There may be many plants mentioned in the Bible that could be classified as weeds. The plants usually considered as weeds in Pal., and mentioned in Holy Writ, are first the thorns and thistles (Gen 3:17, 18). Thistles again appear in Job 31:40, but the weed “cockle” is added—“Let thorns grow instead of wheat, and foul weeds (cockle) instead of barley.” Some Bibles have “noisome weeds” instead of cockle.
The Heb. word here is bōser...which is tr. “wild grapes” in Isaiah 5:4. Should “wild grapes” therefore be the weed and not cockle, and if so, are the so-called wild grapes the Palestinian nightshade, Solanum incanum? This nightshade is a common weed in Pal., even today. The berries look like little grapes, though they are poisonous. It could, of course, be the cockle, which grows in fields of barley, and can be a regular nuisance.
Another weed on which one can debate is the nettle, or hōrûl (Job 30:7). “Under the nettles they were huddled together.” Nettles would have to be particularly large for even young people to gather under. This is why perhaps the ASV uses the words “wild vetches.” This nettle occurs again in Proverbs 24:31, but the nettle ḥārûl of Zephaniah 2:9 in the “salt pits,” may be the Shepherd’s Purse, which grows well on salty soils. The word qimmôš, tr. “nettle” in Isaiah 34:13 and Hosea 9:6, does appear to be the true nettle, Urtica.
As to the thistle, there again seems some confusion. Matthew 7:16 states “figs of Thistles,” and this prob. is “briars”—a fact which is confirmed in Hebrews 6:8. The thistle of Hosea 10:8, dardar, is undoubtedly a large type of indigenous thistle, which could smother a heathen altar.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(cuph, "a weed" (Jon 2:5)).
See Flag; Cockle; RED SEA.