The Rose of Sharon

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Does the Rose of Sharon symbolize Jesus? Was it used for a healing balm?

In ancient Israel, the rose of Sharon grew in a plain that was also called Lasharon (Joshua 12:18). It comprised land starting on the Mediterranean Sea coast that stretched east 10 miles (16 kilometers). Its northern boundary was around modern Haifa, where it ran south to near Tel Aviv (about 51 miles or 82 kilometers).

Solomon used the rose to describe the pleasing appearance of a woman he was courting. The plain where it was found was known for its beauty and fertility (1Chronicles 27:29, Isaiah 33:9). The king directly references it in the Biblical book named after him.

"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters . . . Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away . . . let me see your face, let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely." (Song of Solomon, 2:1 - 2, 10, 14, NKJV).

No one today knows exactly what this flower looked like at the time ancient Israel was a united kingdom. The Hebrew word translated as "rose" in Song of Solomon 2:1 (chabatstseleth) only tells us it was a meadow saffron but does not give us its color. Many varieties of meadow saffrons are still common in Palestine.

Roses of Sharon collage
Possible Roses of Sharon

Although some believe this flower from Sharon symbolizes Jesus as the church's heavenly bridegroom, there is no direct Biblical connection to this symbolism.

The only balm referenced, by name, in the Bible is the balm of Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22, 46:11). This balm, which was a valuable trading commodity, was used as a healing ointment. There is no known relationship, however, between this balm and the rose of Sharon. That said, in modern times, portions of certain flowers are sometimes used for medicinal treatments.

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Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions
Dictionary of the Holy Bible
Easton's Bible Dictionary