LILY (שׁוּשַׁן, H8808). The lily is mentioned thirteen times, eight times as shoshan, once as shushan in
Perhaps there is no flower about which more has been written or more conjectures made than the lily. It would seem that lilies were plentiful in the time of Solomon, but the cutting down of the forests and the subsequent soil erosion caused the plants to disappear. They have now been introduced again into Pal., and are growing well.
The gazelle (
The word “feed” in the text (Heb. rā'â) is exactly the same word as is found in
In the case of lilies of the valley (
It is only fair to consider seriously the madonna lily—Lilium candidum. It certainly was grown in Pal., and Linnaeus, the greatest European botanist, stated that it was a Holy Land plant. The trouble was that in the 18th and 19th cent., the botanists were unable to find madonna lilies in their explorations. It was therefore wondered whether this lily was ever there. At last, in 1925, students of the University of Jerusalem found a madonna lily growing wild in the N of Pal., and more were found subsequently. Remember that the madonna lily is related to the lilies of the E—far more so than to the Mediterranean lilies.
As has been said, the deforestation in Solomon’s days, and the subsequent soil erosion caused the disappearance of the lilies. It is also thought that much flower cutting and even uprooting was done by the inhabitants for religious functions—this, of course, before the Arabian conquest of a.d. 636.
Another plant which has been considered as the Bible lily is the Anemone coronaria. It can be seen now on thein abundance. The Lord must have seen thousands of them when He was preaching on the shores of Galilee. This anemone is much admired today—the petals may be red, purple, blue, rose or white—the stems being twelve to fifteen inches high. The brilliant colors of the flowers would certainly surpass “Solomon in all his glory.”
The Heb. word שׁוּשַׁן, H8808, tr. “lily” is similar to the Arab. word which means in fact, any type of highly-colored flower.
Lilium chalcedonicum is considered another possibility. It grows round about the Lake of Galilee, but is by no means as common as the Anemone.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
Botanically the word shoshannah, like the similar modern Arabic Susan, included in all probability a great many flowers, and was used in a way at least as wide as the popular use of the English word "lily." The expression "lily of the valleys" (
The reference of our Lord to the "lilies of the field" is probably, like thereferences, quite a general one.
The Hebrew and the Greek very likely include not only any members of the great order Liliaceae, growing in Palestine, e.g. asphodel, squill, hyacinth, ornithogalum (""), fritillaria, tulip and colocynth, but also the more showy irises ("Tabor lilies" "purple irises," etc.) and the beautiful gladioli of the Natural Order. Irideae and the familiar narcissi of the Natural Order Amaryllideae.
In later Jewish literature the lily is very frequently referred to symbolically, and a lotus or lily was commonly pictured on several Jewish coins.