Many varieties of the rose proper are indigenous to Syria. The famed rose of Damascus is white, but there are also red and yellow roses. In Cant 2:1 and Isaiah 35:1 the Hebrew word habatstseleth (found only in these passages), rendered "rose" (RSV marg., "autumn crocus"), is supposed by some to mean the oleander, by others the sweet-scented narcissus (a native of Palestine), the tulip, or the daisy; but nothing definite can be affirmed regarding it.
The "rose of Sharon" is probably the cistus or rock-rose, several species of which abound in Palestine. "Mount Carmel especially abounds in the cistus, which in April covers some of the barer parts of the mountain with a glow not inferior to that of the Scottish heather." (See MYRRH .)
occurs twice only, viz. in ( Solomon 2:1 ; Isaiah 35:1 ) There is much difference of opinion as to what particular flower is here denoted; but it appears to us most probable that the narcissus is intended. Chateaubriand mentions the narcissus as growing in the Plain of Sharon. Roses are greatly prized in the East, more especially for the sake of the rose-water, which is much request. Dr. Hooker observed seven species of wild roses in Syria.
(1) (chabhatstseleth; anthos, "a flower" (Song of Solomon 2:1) krinon, "a lily" (Isaiah 35:1)): By general consent English Versions of the Bible is wrong: in Song of Solomon 2:1 margin reads "Hebrew habazzeleth, the autumn crocus" and in Isaiah 35:1, margin reads "or autumn crocus." This is the Colchicum autumnale (Natural Order, Liliaceae). A Targum on Song of Solomon 2:1 explains the Hebrew word as "narcissus" , a very common plant in the plains and mountains of Palestine and a great favorite with the natives. Two species, N. tazetta and N. serolinus (Natural Order, Amaryllideae), occur, the latter being the finer; they are autumn plants. All authorities agree that the so-called "rose" was some kind of bulbed plant. (2) (rhodon, "the rose," mentioned in Ecclesiasticus 24:14; 39:13; 50:8; The Wisdom of Solomon 2:8; 2 Esdras 2:19): There is no reason why the rose, of which several varieties are common in Palestine, should not be meant. Tristram favors the rhododendron. The expression, "rose plants in Jericho," in Ecclesiasticus 24:14 has nothing whatever to do with what is now sold there as a "rose of Jericho," a dwarf annual plant, Anastatica hierochuntina (Natural Order, Cruciferae), which dries up and can be made to reexpand by placing the root in water.
E. W. G. Masterman
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