slender reed, a

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slender reed, a

A weak and unreliable support. This metaphor dates from biblical times, appearing in both Old and New Testaments. In the former, in the books of Isaiah and 2 Kings, it was applied to Egypt, which was variously described as a “broken” or “bruised” reed, not to be trusted if the Assyrians made war on the Hebrews. The term persisted into the mid-twentieth century but is heard less often today.
References in periodicals archive ?
Jackson applies the gesso and, when it has dried, breathes on it through a slender reed. This provides the moisture that will allow gold leaf to adhere so it can be burnished to a dazzling and lasting brilliance.
"Marketing expertise" seems like a slender reed to justify this deal, since a promising new drug does not exactly require a hard sell, like a new brand of perfume.