What is the rose of Sharon?

“Sharon” means literally, “a field,” “a plain.” The LXX points “Sharon” as a general designation of an open field. In the Bible, it implies the maritime plain situated between Joppa and Mt. Carmel. Therefore, we can assume that the rose of Sharon flower is named for the region of Sharon.

The Saron area (Sharon in Hebrew) is also mentioned in Acts 9:35 in connection with the town of Lydda, SE of Joppa and is called “Lod” in the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 8:12). Here, Luke probably refers to the Plain of Sharon since no village or town of this name is known. This area was famous for its loveliness and fertility (Isa. 35:2; 65:10).

Biblical expression

The phrase the rose of Sharon is a biblical expression, though the identity of the plant referred to is unclear and is disputed among biblical scholars. It appears twice in the Bible. First- it appears in Song of Solomon 2:1. The speaker (the beloved) says, “I am the rose of Sharon, a rose of the valley” according to the King James Version. However, previous translations had rendered it “the flower of the field” (Septuagint). Second, it also appears in Isaiah 35:1, which reads, “the desert shall bloom like the rose.” The word is translated “rose” in KJV, but is rendered variously as “lily” (Septuagint).

Spiritual application

A spiritual application to the Song of Solomon 2:1 will point both the titles “rose of Sharon” and “lily of the valleys” to Christ. For the New Testament refers to Jesus as being the Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride (Ephesians 5:25-27). Here, God is using the “lover” analogy to describe the personal relationship that He wants us to have with His Son.

However, contextually, it is a statement of the bride and applies to the Shulamite maid who was Solomon’s bride. Here, the bride is confessing her modesty, stating that she feels out of place in a palace. For she is only a country flower.

Applied to different plants

The name “Rose of Sharon” is also commonly applied to several different plants. The identity is uncertain.  It may be identified with the crocus (source of saffron), asphodel, tulip or narcissus. The deciduous flowering shrub known as the Rose of Sharon is a member of the mallow family. But it doesn’t refer to actual roses, although one of the species it refers to in modern usage is a member of Rosaceae.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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