I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) The rose.—Heb., chabatseleth. The identification of this flower is a much vexed question. From its derivation, it should be a bulbous plant (batsal—a bulb), and it happens that the flower which for other reasons best satisfies the requirements is of this kind, viz., the Sweet-scented Narcissus (Narcissus tazetta). “Others have suggested the crocus, of which there are many species very common, but they are deficient in perfume, and there is no bulb more fragrant than the narcissus; it is, besides, one of which the Orientals arc passionately fond. While it is in flower it is to be seen in all the bazaars, and the men as well as the women always carry two or three blossoms, at which they are continually smelling” (Tristram, Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 477). Dr. Thomson prefers the mallow, from the fact that the Arabs call it khubbazey. In Isaiah 35:1, the only other place where chabatseleth occurs, the LXX., Vulg., and Chaldee render “lily,” and many eminent moderns “autumn crocus.” Here the LXX. and the Vulg. have flower.
Of Sharon.—Better, of the plain, as in the LXX. Here (as invariably except 1Chronicles 5:16) the Hebrew has the article before sharon, but without definite local allusion to the district north of Philistia. The verse is by many taken as a snatch of a song into which the heroine breaks in answer to the eulogies on her beauty. It is certainly spoken with modest and lowly intention: “I am a mere flower of the plain, a lily of the valley;” by no means like Tennyson’s “Queen lily and rose in one.”
Lily.—So the LXX. and Vulg.; Heb., shôshanath (fem. of shôshan, or shûshan; comp. name Susan), a word occurring seven times in the poem, three times in 1 Kings 7, and in the headings to Psalms 45, 60, 69, 80. The Arabs have the word, and apply it to any brilliantly coloured flower, as the tulip, anemone, ranunculus. Although many plants of the lily tribe flourish in Palestine, none of them give a predominant character to the flora. There are, however, many other plants which would in popular language be called lilies. Of these, the Irises may claim the first mention; and Dr. Thomson (Land and Book, p. 256) unhesitatingly fixes on one, which he calls Huleh Lily, or the Lily of the Gospel and of the Song of Songs. “Our flower,” he says, “delights most in the valleys, but it is also found in the mountains. It grows among thorns, and I have sadly lacerated my hands while extricating it from them. . . . Gazelles still delight to feed among them, and you can scarcely ride through the woods north of Tabor, where these lilies abound, without frightening them from their flowery pasture.” Tristram, however, prefers the Anemone (A. coronaria), “the most gorgeously painted, the most conspicuous in spring, and the most universally spread of all the treasures of the Holy Land” (Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 464).Song of Solomon 2:1-2. I am the rose of Sharon — These are the words of the bridegroom. He compares himself to the rose and lily, for fragrancy and beauty. Sharon was a very fruitful place, and famous for roses. As the lily among thorns — Compared with thorns, which it unspeakably exceeds in glory and beauty; so is my love — So far doth my church, or people, excel all other assemblies. The title of daughter is often given to whole nations. These are Christ’s words, to which the spouse makes the following reply.Isaiah 35:1) "rose." The etymology is in favor of its being a bulbous plant (the white narcissus, Conder). "Sharon" is usually the proper name of the celebrated plain from Joppa to Caesarea, between the hill-country and the sea, and travelers have remarked the abundance of flowers with which this plain is still carpeted in spring. But in the time of Eusebius and Jerome there was a smaller plain of Sharon (Saron) situated between Mount Tabor and the sea of Tiberias, which would be very near the bride's native home if that were Shunem.
1. rose—if applied to Jesus Christ, it, with the white lily (lowly, 2Co 8:9), answers to "white and ruddy" (So 5:10). But it is rather the meadow-saffron: the Hebrew means radically a plant with a pungent bulb, inapplicable to the rose. So Syriac. It is of a white and violet color [Maurer, Gesenius, and Weiss]. The bride thus speaks of herself as lowly though lovely, in contrast with the lordly "apple" or citron tree, the bridegroom (So 2:3); so the "lily" is applied to her (So 2:2),
Sharon—(Isa 35:1, 2). In North Palestine, between Mount Tabor and Lake Tiberias (1Ch 5:16). Septuagint and Vulgate translate it, "a plain"; though they err in this, the Hebrew Bible not elsewhere favoring it, yet the parallelism to valleys shows that, in the proper name Sharon, there is here a tacit reference to its meaning of lowliness. Beauty, delicacy, and lowliness, are to be in her, as they were in Him (Mt 11:29).The excellency of the majesty of Christ, Song of Solomon 2:1, and of his church, Song of Solomon 2:2. The benefits which the church receives from him, Song of Solomon 2:3. Christ’s love to his church, Song of Solomon 2:4. The church sick of love; her prayer for help, Song of Solomon 2:5. His ears for her in this condition, Song of Solomon 2:6. The hope and calling of the church, Song of Solomon 2:10-13. Christ’s care of the church, Song of Solomon 2:14,15. The profession of the church; her faith and hope, Song of Solomon 2:16,17.
(t) Zohar in Gen. fol. 46. 2. Targum, Aben Ezra, & Yalkut in loc. (u) Ainsworth, Brightman, Vatablus; Cocceius; Michaelis. (w) The rose, by the Arcadians, was called that is, "sweet-smelling", Timachidas apud Athenaei Deipnosophist. l. 15. c. 8. p. 682. and "rosy" is used for "beautiful"; "rosea cervice refulsit", Virgil. Aeneid. l. 1. Vid. Servium in ibid. (x) So Helena, for her beauty, is called , in Theocrit. Idyll. 19. The rose was sacred to Venus, Pausaniae Eliac. 2. sive l. 6, p. 391. (y) Vid. Barthii Animadv. ad Claudian. de Nupt. Honor. v. 247. (z) Nat. Hist. l. 21. c. 5. (a) Durham in Ioc. (b) "Mea rosa", Plauti Bacchides, Sc. 1. v. 50. Asinaria, Acts 3, Sc. 3. v. 74. Curculio, Acts 1. Sc. 2. v. 6. (c) Nat. Hist. l. 21. c. 4. (d) Misnah Sotah, c. 8. s. 3.((e) Diar. Italic, c. 7. p. 100. (f) , Sept. "flos campi", V. L. Pagninus, Mercerus. (g) "Ego rosa Sharon lilio vallium", Marckius.I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Song of Solomon 2:1-2. In Song of Solomon 2:1 the bride speaks, describing herself as a humble meadow flower unfit to be in such a luxurious place as that in which she now finds herself, and in Song of Solomon 2:2 Solomon replies.
1. Render, I am a crocus of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
the rose of Sharon] The Heb. word chabhatstseleth, which occurs besides only in Isaiah 35:1, can hardly mean a rose. The LXX, Vulg., and Targ. to Isaiah 35:1 translate it ‘lily,’ but as we have shôshannâh for lily in the next clause, it is probably some other flower. The Targum here gives narqôs rattîb, ‘the green narcissus,’ but Gesen. Thes. prefers the Syriac translation, Colchicum autumnale or meadow saffron, a meadow flower like the crocus, white and violet in colour, and having poisonous bulbs. This is the most probable of the proposed identifications, though Tristram, Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 476, decides for the sweet-scented narcissus, Narcissus tazetta, a native of Palestine, and a flower of which the natives are passionately fond. While it is in flower it is to be seen in all the bazaars, and the men as well as the women at that season always carry two or three blossoms which they are constantly smelling.
Sharon] is generally supposed to be the great plain of Sharon to the S. of Carmel on the Mediterranean coast, stretching from Caesarea to Joppa. But the word probably means ‘a plain,’ and might, consequently, be applied by the inhabitants of any district to the plain in their neighbourhood. This is supported by the fact that Eusebius states that the district from Tabor to the Lake of Gennesaret was called Sharon, so here we may render either a crocus of Sharon, or of the plain, as in the LXX.
the lily] Rather, a lily. Shôshannâh must be a red flower; cp. Song of Solomon 5:13, “His lips are like lilies.” Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 464, identifies it with the scarlet Anemone coronaria. It is found everywhere, on all soils and in all situations. It meets every requirement of the allusions in Canticles and is one of the flowers called susan by the Arabs.
12 While the king is at his table,
My nard has yielded its fragrance.
שׁ עד or אשׁר r עד, with fut. foll., usually means: usque eo, until this and that shall happen, Sol 2:7, Sol 2:17; with the perf. foll., until something happened, Sol 3:4. The idea connected with "until" may, however, be so interpreted that there comes into view not the end of the period as such, but the whole length of the period. So here in the subst. clause following, which in itself is already an expression of continuance, donec equals dum (erat); so also עד alone, without asher, with the part. foll. (Job 1:18), and the infin. (Judges 3:26; Exodus 33:22; Jonah 4:2; cf. 2 Kings 9:22); seldomer with the fin. foll., once with the perf. foll. (1 Samuel 14:19), once (for Job 8:21 is easily explained otherwise) with the fut. foll. (Psalm 141:10, according to which Genesis 49:10 also is explained by Baur and others, but without כי עד in this sense of limited duration: "so long as," being anywhere proved). מסבּו is the inflected מסב, which, like the post-bibl. מסבּה, signifies the circuit of the table; for סבב signifies also, after 1 Samuel 16:11 (the lxx rightly, after the sense οὐ μὴ κατακλιθῶμεν), to seat themselves around the table, from which it is to be remarked that not till the Greek-Roman period was the Persian custom of reclining at table introduced, but in earlier times they sat (1 Samuel 20:5; 1 Kings 13:20; cf. Psalm 128:3). Reclining and eating are to be viewed as separate from each other, Amos 6:4; הסב, "three and three they recline at table," is in matter as in language mishnic (Berachoth 42b; cf. Sanhedrin 2:4, of the king: if he reclines at table, the Tra must be opposite him). Thus: While (usque eo, so long as), says Shulamith, the king was at his table, my nard gave forth its fragrance.
נרדּ is an Indian word: naladâ, i.e., yielding fragrance, Pers. nard (nârd), Old Arab. nardîn (nârdîn), is the aromatic oil of an Indian plant valeriana, called Nardostachys 'Gatâmânsi (hair-tress nard). Interpreters are wont to represent Shulamith as having a stalk of nard in her hand. Hitzig thinks of the nard with which she who is speaking has besprinkled herself, and he can do this because he regards the speaker as one of the court ladies. But that Shulamith has besprinkled herself with nard, is as little to be thought of as that she has in her hand a sprig of nard (spica nardi), or, as the ancients said, an ear of nard; she comes from a region where no nard grows, and nard-oil is for a country maiden unattainable.
(Note: The nard plant grows in Northern and Eastern India; the hairy part of the stem immediately above the root yields the perfume. Vid., Lassen's Indische Alterthumskunde, I 338f., III41f.)
Horace promises Virgil a cadus ( equals 9 gallons) of the best wine for a small onyx-box full of nard; and Judas estimated at 300 denarii (about 8, 10s.) the genuine nard (how frequently nard was adulterated we learn from Pliny) which Mary of Bethany poured from an alabaster box on the head of Jesus, so that the whole house was filled with the odour of the ointment (Mark 14:5; John 12:2). There, in Bethany, the love which is willing to sacrifice all expressed itself in the nard; here, the nard is a figure of the happiness of love, and its fragrance a figure of the longing of love. It is only in the language of flowers that Shulamith makes precious perfume a figure of the love which she bears in the recess of her heart, anl which, so long as Solomon was absent, breathed itself out and, as it were, cast forth its fragrance
(Note: In Arab. ntn equals נתן, to give an odour, has the specific signification, to give an ill odour (mintin, foetidus), which led an Arab. interpreter to understand the expression, "my nard has yielded, etc.," of the stupifying savour which compels Solomon to go away (Mittheilung, Goldziher's).)
(cf. Sol 2:13; Sol 7:13) in words of longing. She has longed for the king, and has sought to draw him towards her, as she gives him to understand. He is continually in her mind.
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