ROSE (חֲבַצֶּ֫לֶת, H2483). The word is mentioned in Song of Solomon—“the rose of Sharon—” and in Isaiah 35:1—“the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (KJV).
The Rose of Sharon, sometimes called Aaron’s Beard, is mentioned in Song of Solomon 2:1. This could be Hypericum calycinum, though it is not sweet-smelling. It was, however, known to grow in W Asia Minor and in the Sharon Valley. It is more or less evergreen, and its golden, powder-puff flowers are seen for four long months.
This plant will grow almost anywhere, even under trees. It could therefore have succeeded in the Plain of Sharon, even if it had to grow among other vegetation.
Lately, the professor of Biblical Botany of the University of Jerusalem has stated that the Rose of Sharon was prob. a tulip, Tulipa montana, which, as its name suggests, grows happily in the mountains. It is more likely, however, to be Tulipa sharonensis, found growing abundantly around Sharon.
Neither Song of Solomon 2:1 or Isaiah 35:1 refers to the rose as known today. It is considered that the Heb. word ḥabaṩṩelet in Isaiah really means “bulb.” The ancient trs. knowing the large bulb-like hips which some species of roses produce, made the tr. “rose.” The writer feels, however, that it is far more likely to have been a true bulbous plant.
The Narcissus tazetta grows plentifully in Pal., and so this may be the scented plant referred to. It was and is very popular with the Israelites, bearing cream or white flowers in clusters of five to ten.
In Ecclesiasticus 24:14 (KJV) a “rose plant” is mentioned, and in Ecclesiasticus 39:13 “a rose growing by the brook.”
It is very unlikely that these refer to Rosa canina, the Wild Rose, for this would not flourish by wadis and brooks. Therefore, the plant is surely the Oleander, which does very well by water, and esp. in the Jordan Valley. This Nerium oleander is a shrub four to ten ft. tall. The flowers may be pink or white, and when these are double they do look like the rose.
In 2 Esdras 2:18 and 19 (KJV), it says: “...whereupon there grow roses and lilies.” It is generally agreed that this could mean the Phoenician Rose, Rosa phoenicia, which grows eight or nine ft. high, and produces sweet-smelling white single flowers, plus many golden stamens. This will grow as high as 5,000 ft. It is therefore one which fits into the picture of the “seven mighty mountains” mentioned in 2 Esdras 2.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
roz: (1) (chabhatstseleth; anthos, "a flower" (So 2:1) krinon, "a lily" (Isa 35:1)): By general consent English Versions of the Bible is wrong: in So 2:1 margin reads "Hebrew habazzeleth, the autumn crocus" and in Isa 35:1, margin reads "or autumn crocus." This is the Colchicum autumnale (Natural Order, Liliaceae). A Targum on So 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.