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English Bible Dictionary

Lily

 

(Heb. shushan, shoshannah). Although there is little doubt that the Hebrew word denotes some plant of the lily species, it is by no means certain what individual of this class it specially designates. The plant must have been a conspicuous object on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret, (Matthew 6:28; Luke 12:27) it must have flourished in the deep broad valleys of Palestine, (Song of Solomon 2:1) among the thorny shrubs, ib. (Song of Solomon 2:2) and pastures of the desert, ib. (Song of Solomon 2:16; 4:5; 6:3) and must have been remarkable for its rapid and luxuriant growth. (Hosea 14:5), Ecclus. 39:14. That its flowers were brilliant in color would seem to be indicated in (Matthew 6:28) where it is compared with the gorgeous robes of Solomon; and that this color was scarlet or purple is implied in (Song of Solomon 5:13) There appears to be no species of lily which so completely answers all these requirements as the Lilium chalcedonicum, or scarlet martagon, which grows in profusing in the Levant, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. But direct evidence on the point is still to be desired from the observation of travellers. (It is very probable that the term lily here is general, not referring to any particular species, but to a large class of flowers growing in Palestine, and resembling the lily, as the tulip, iris, gladiolus, etc: ED.)

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