(שׁוּשִׁן, shushan', from its whiteness, 1Ki 7:19; also שׁוֹשָׁן, shoshan', 1Ki 7:22,26; Song 2:16; Song 4:5; Song 5:13; Song 6:2-3; Song 7:2; and שׁוֹשִׁנָּה, shoshannah', 2Ch 4:5; Song 2:1-2; Ho 14:5 SEE SHUSHAN; SEE SHOSHANNIM; Sept. and N.T. κρίνον, Mt 6:28: Lu 12:27). There are, no doubt, several plants indigenous in Syria which might come under the denomination of lily, when that name is used in a general sense, as it often is by travelers and others. The term shoshan or sosuns seems also to have been employed in this sense. It was known to the Greeks (σοῦσον), for Dioscorides (3:116) describes the mode of preparing an ointment called susinon, which others, he savs, call κρινινόν, that is, lilinum. So Atheneus (12:513)
identities the Persian susona with the Greek krinon. The Arabic authors also use the word in a general sense, several varieties being described under the head sosun. The name is applied even to kinds of Iris, of which several species, with various colored flowers, are distinguished. But it appears to us that none but a plant which was well known and highly esteemed would be found occurring in so many different passages. Thus, in 1Ki 7:19-26, and 2Ch 4:5, it is mentioned as forming the ornamental work of the pillars and of the brazen sea, made of molten brass, for the house of Solomon, by Hiram of Tyre. In Canticles the word is frequently mentioned; and it is curious that in five passages, Song 2:2,16; Song 4:5; Song 6:2-3, there is a reference to feeding among lilies, which appears unaccountable when we consider that the allusion is made simply to an ornamental or sweet-smelling plant; and this the shushans appears to have been from the other passages in which it is mentioned. Thus, in Song 2:1, 'I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys;' verse 2, 'as the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters;' verse 13, 'his lips like lilies, dropping sweetsmelling myrrh;' 7:2, 'thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.' If we consider that the book of Canticles is supposed to have been written on the occasion of the marriage of Solomon with a princess of Egypt, it is natural to suppose that some of the imagery may have been derived from her native country, and that the above lily may be a plant of Egypt rather than of Palestine. Especially does the water-lily, or lotus of the Nile, seem suitable to most of the above passages. Thus Herodotus (2:92) says. 'When the waters have risen to their extremest height, and all the fields are overflowed, there appears above the surface an immense quantity of plants of the lily species, which the Egyptians call the lotus; having cut down these, they dry them in the sun. The seed of the flowers, which resembles that of the poppy, they bake, and make into a kind of bread: they also eat the root of this plant, which is round, of an agreeable flavor, and about the size of an apple. There is a second species of the lotus, which grows in the Nile, and which is not unlike a rose. The fruit, which grows from the bottom of the root, resembles a wasp's nest: it is found to contain a number of kernels of the size of an olive-stone, which are very grateful either fresh or dried.' All this exists even to the present day. Both the roots and the stalks form articles of diet in Eastern countries, and the large farinaceous seeds of both the nymphaea and nelumbium are roasted and eaten. Hence possibly the reference to feeding among lilies in the above-quoted passages" This flower (the Nymhaea Lotus. of Linnaeus, and the beshnin,
of the modern Arabs) grows plentifully in Lower Egypt, flowering during the period of the aninual inundation. There can be little doubt the "lilywork" spoken of in 1Ki 7:19,22, was an ornament in the form of the Egyptian lotus. There wre eformerly three descriptions of water-lily in Egypt, but one (the red-flowered lotus) has disappeared. "The flower," says Burckhardt, speaking of the white variety, or Nymphaea lotus, "generally stands on the stalk from one to two feet above the surface of the water. When the flowers open completely, the leaves form a horizontal disk, with the isolated seed-vessel in the midst, which bends down the stall by its weight, and swims upon the surface of the water for several days until it is engulfed. This plant grows at Cairo, in a tank called Birket el- Rotoli, near one of the northern suburbs where I happen to reside. It is not found in Upper Egypt, I believe, but abounds in the Delta, and attains maturity at the time when the Nile reaches its full height. I saw it in great abundance and in full flower. covering the whole inundated plain, on October 12, 1815, near the ruins of Tiney, about twelve miles south-east from Mansoura, on the Damietta branch. It dies when the water retires." Among the ancient Egyptians the lotus was introduced into all subjects as an ornament, and as the favorite flower of the country, but not with the holy character usually attributed to it, though adopted as an emblem of the god Nophre-Atmi (Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, 1:57, 256). As the Hebrew architecture was of the Phoenico-Egyptian style, nothing was more natural than the introduction of this ornament by Solomon into the Temple. It was in like manner borrowed by the Assyrians in their later structures (Layard's Nineveh, 2:356). Mr. Bardwell, the architect, in his work entitled Temples, Ancient and Modern (1837), says, "The two great columns of the pronaos in Solomon's Temple were of the usual proportions of Egyptian columns, being five and a half diameters high; and as these gave the great characteristic feature to the building, Solomon sent an embassy to fetch the architect from Tyre to superintend the molding and casting of these columns, which were intended to be of brass. Observe how conspicuous is the idea of the vase (the 'bowl' of our translation), rising from a cylinder ornamented with lotus-flowers; the bottom of the vase was partly hidden by the flowers, the belly of it was overlaid with net-work, ornamented by seven wreaths, the Hebrew number of happiness, and beneath the lip of the vase were two rows of pomegranates, one hundred in each row. These superb pillars were eight feet in diameter and forty-four feet high, supporting a noble entablature fourteen feet high." SEE JACHIN AND BOAZ. "In confirmation of the above identification of the lily of the O.T. with the lotus-flower, we may adduce also the remarks of Dr. W. C. Taylor in his Bible Illustrated by Egyptian Monuments, where he says that the lilies of the 45th and 59th Psalms have puzzled all Biblical critics. The title, 'To the chief musician upon Shoshannim,' has been supposed to be the name of some unknown tune to which the psalm was to be sung. But Dr. Taylor says 'the word shoshannim is universally acknowledged to signify lilies, and lilies have nothing to do with the subject of the ode. But this hymeneal ode was intended to be sung by the female attendants of the Egyptian princess, and they are called "the lilies," not only by a poetic reference to the lotus lilies of the Nile, but by a direct allusion to their custom of making the lotus lily a conspicuous ornament of their head- dress.' Thus, therefore, all the passages of O.-T. Scripture in which shushan occurs appear to be explained by considering it to refer to the lotus lily of the Nile" (Kitto). "Lynch enumerates the 'lily' as among the plants seen by him on the shores of the Dead Sea, but gives no details which could lead to its identification (Exped. to the. Jordane, page 286). He had previously observed the water-lily on the Jordan (page 173), but omits to mention whether it was the yellow (Nuphar lutea) or the white (Nymphaea alba). 'The only "lilies" which I saw in Palestine,' says Professor Startley, 'in the months of March and April, were large yellow water-lilies, in the clear spring of 'Ain AMellahah, near the lake of Merom' (S. and Pal. page 429). He suggests that the name "lily" 'may include the numerous flowers of the tulip or amaryllis kind which appear in the early summer or the autumn of Palestine.' The following description of the Hûleh-lily by Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, 1:394), were it more precise, would perhaps have enabled botanists to identify it: 'This Huleh- lily is very large, and the three inner petals meet above and form a gorgeous canopy, such as art never approached, anld king never sat under, even in his utmost glory. We call it Huleh-lily because it was here that it was first discovered. Its botanical name, if it have one, I am unacquainted with.... Our flower delights most in the valleys, but is also found on the mountains. It grows among thorns, and I have sadly lacerated my hands in extricating it from them. Nothing can be in higher contrast than the luxuriant velvety softness of this lily, and the crabbed, tangled hedge of thorns about it. Gazelles still delight to feed among them; and you can scarcely ride through the woods north of Tabor, where these lilies abound, without frightening them from their flowery pasture.' "
On the other hand, some of the passages in which shoshanz occurs evidently refer to a field variety, as Song 2:1-2, and the tubular shape of the trumpet is sufficient to explain the transfer of the word to that musical instrument. SEE SHOSHANNIM. "The Hebrew word is rendered 'rose' in the Chaldce Targum, and by Maimonides and other Babbinical writers, with the exception of Kimchi and Ben-Melech, who in 1Ki 7:19 translated it by 'violet.' In the Judaeo-Spanish version of the Canticles shoishan and shôshannâh are always translated by rosa, but in Ho 14:5 the latter is rendered lirio. But κρίνον, or 'lily,' is the uniform rendering of the Sept., and is, in all probability, the true one, as it is supported by the analogy of the Arabic and Persian susan, which has the same meaning to this day, and by the existence of the same word in Syriac and Coptic. The Spanish azucena, 'a white lily,' is merely a modification of the Arabic; but, although there is little doubt that the word denotes some plant of the lily species, it is by no means certain what individual of this class it especially designates. Father Souciet (Recueil de diss. Crit. 1715) labored to prove that the lily of Scripture is the 'crown imperial,' the Persian tusai, the κρίνον βασιλικόν of the Greeks, and the lFritillaria imperialis of Linnums. So common was this plant in Persia that it is supposed to have given its name to Susa, the capital (Athen. 12:1; Bochart, Phaleg. 2:14); but there is no proof that it was at any time common in Palestine, and 'the lily' par excellence of Persia would not of necessity be 'the lily' of the Holy Land. Dioscorides (1:62) bears witness to the beauty of the lilies of Syria and Pisidia, from which the best perfume was made. He says (3:106 ) of the κρίνον βασιλικόν that the Syrians call it σασᾶ (=shushcan), and the Africans ἀβίβλαβον, which Bochart renders in Hebrew characters אביב לבן white shoot.' Kühn, in his note on the passage, identifies the plant in question with the Liliumz candidumn of Linnaeus. It is probably the same as that called in the Mishna 'king's lily' (Kilaimi, 5:8). Pliny (21:5) defines κρίνον as 'rubens lilium;' and Dioscorides, in another passage, mentions the fact that there are lilies with purple flowers, but whether by this he intended the Lilium martagon or Chalcedonicunm, Kühn leaves undecided. Now in the passage of Athenaus above quoted it is said, Σοῦσον γὰρ ειναι τῇ ῾Ελλήνων φωνῇ τὸ κρίνον. But in the Etymologicum Mazgnums (s.v. Σοῦσα) we find τὰ γὰρ λείρια ὑπὸ τῶν Φοινίκων σοῦσαλέγρεται. As the shushans is thus identified both with κρίνον, the red or purple lily, and with λείριον,
the white lily, it is evidently impossible, from the word itself, to ascertain exactly the kind of lily which is referred to. If the shushan or shoshlannah of the O.T. and the κρίνον of the Sermon on the Mount be identical, which there seems no reason to doubt, the plant designated by these terms must have been a conspicuous object on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret (Mt 6:28; Lu 12:27); it must have flourished in the deep, broad valleys of Palestine (Song 2:1), among the thorny shrubs (Song 2:2) and pastures of the desert (Song 2:16; Song 4:5; Song 6:3), and must have been remarkable for its rapid and luxuriant growth (Ho 14:5; Ecclus. 39:14). The purple flowers of the khob, or wild artichoke, which abounds in the plain north of Tabor and in the valley of Esdraelon, have been thought by some to be the 'lilies of the field' alluded to in Mt 6:28 (Wilson, Lands of the Bible, 2:110). A recent traveler mentions a plant, with lilac flowers like the hyacinth, and called by the Arabs usweih, which he considered to be of the species denominated lily in Scripture (Bonar, Desert of Sinai, page 329)." Tristram strongly inclines to identify the scarlet, anemone (Anemone coronaria with the Scripture "lily" (Nat. Hist. of Bible, page 464).
In the N. Test. the word "lily" occurs in the well-known and beautiful passage (Mt 6:28), 'Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these;' so also in Lu 12:27. Here it is evident that the plant alluded to must have been indigenous or grow in wild in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee, must have been of an ornamental character, and, from the Greek term κρίνον being applied to it, of a liliaceous nature. The name κρίνον occurs in all the old Greek writers (see Dioscor. 3:116; compare Claudian. Epithal. seren. 126; Martial, 5:37, 6 sq.; Calpurn. 6:33; Athen. 15:677, 680; Virgil, Ecl. 10:25; Pliny, 15:7; 21:11). Theophrastus first uses it, and is supposed by Sprengel to apply it to species of Varscissus and to Lilium candidumn. Dioscorides indicates two species, but very imperfectly: one of them is supposed to be the Lilium candidum, and the other, with a reddish flower, may be L. martagon or L. Chalcedonicum. He alludes more particularly to the lilies of Syria and of Pamphylia being well suited for making the ointment of lily. Pliny enumerates three kinds, a white, a red, and a purple-colored lily. Travelers in Palestine mention that in the month of January the fields and groves everywhere abound in various species of lily, tulip, and narcissus.
Benard noticed, near Acre, on Jan. 18th, and about Jaffa on the 23d, tulips, white, red, blue, etc. Gumpenberg saw the meadows of Galilee covered with the same flowers on the 31st. Tulips figure conspicuously among the flowers of Palestine, varieties probably of Tulijpas Gesneriana (Kitto's Palestine, page 215). So Pococke says, 'I saw many tulips growing wild in the fields (in March), and any one who considers how beautiful those flowers are to the eye would be apt to conjecture that these are the lilies to which Solomon in all his glory was not to be compared.' This is much more likely to be the plant intended than some others which have been adduced, as, for instance, the scarlet amaryllis, having white flowers with bright purple streaks, found by Salt at Adowa. Others have preferred the Crown imperial, which is a native of Persia and Cashmere. Most authors have united in considering the white lily, Lilium candidume, to be the plant to which our Savior referred; but it is doubtful whether it has ever been found in a wild state in Palestine. Some, indeed, have thought it to be a native of the New World. Dr. Lindley, however, in the Gardeners' Chronicle (2:744), says, 'This notion cannot be sustained, because the white lily occurs in all engraving of the annunciation, executed somewhere about 1480 by Martin Schongauer; and the first voyage of Columbus did not take place till 1492. In this very rare print the lily is represented as growing in an ornamental vase, as if it were cultivated as a curious object.' This opinion is confirmed by a correspondent at Aleppo (Gardeners' Chronicle, 3:429), who has resided long in Syria, but is acquainted only with the botany of Aleppo and Antioch: 'I never saw the white lily in a wild state, nor have I heard of its being so in Syria. It is cultivated here on the roofs of the houses in pots as an exotic bulb, like the daffodil.' In consequence of this difficulty, the late Sir J.E. Smith was of opinion that the plant alluded to under the name of lily was the Amaryllis lutea (now Oporasnthus lutteus), 'whose golden liliaceous flowers in autumn afford one of the most brilliant and gorgeous objects in nature, as the fields of the Levant are overrun with them; to them the expression of Solomon, in all his glory, not being arrayed like one of them, is peculiarly appropriate.' Dr. Lindley conceives it to be much more probable that the plant intended by our Savior was the Ixiolirion montanum, a plant allied to the amaryllis, of very great beauty, with a slender stem, and clusters of the most delicate violet flowers, abounding in Palestine, where colonel Chesney found it in the most brilliant profusion (l.c. page 744). In reply to this, a correspondent furnishes an extract of a letter from Dr. Bowring, which throws a new light upon the subject: 'I cannot describe to you with botanical accuracy the lily of Palestine. I heard it called by the title of Lilia Syriaca, and I imagine under this title its botanical characteristics may be hunted out. Its color is a brilliant red; its size about half that of the common tiger lily. The white lily I do not remember to have seen in any part of Syria. It was in April and May that I observed my flower, and it was most abundant in the district of Galilee, where it and the Rhododendron (which grew in rich abundance round the paths) most strongly excited my attention.' On this Dr. Lindley observes, 'It is clear that neither the white lily, nor the Oporanthus luteus, nor Ixiolirion, will answer to Dr. Bowring's description, which seems to point to the Chalcedonian or scarlet martagon lily, formerly called the lily of Byzantium, found from the Adriatic to the Levant, and which, with its scarlet turban-like flowers, is indeed a most stately and striking object' (Gardeners' Chronicle, 2:854)" (Kitto). As this lily (the Lilium Chalcedonicum of botanists) is in flower at the season of the year when the Sermon on the Mount is supposed to have been spoken (May; but it is probable that our Savior's discourse on Providence, contaning the allusion to the lily, occurred on a different occasion, apparently about October; see Strong's Harmony of the Gospels, § 52), is indigenous in the very locality, and is conspicuous, even in the garden, for its remarkable showy flowers, there can now be little doubt that it is the plant alluded to by our Savior. "Strand (Flor. Palest.) mentions it as growing near Joppa, and Kitto (Phys. Hist. of Palest. page 219) makes especial mention of the L. candidum growing in Palestine; and, in connection with the habitat given by Strand, it is worth observing that the lily is mentioned (Song 2:1) with the rose of Sharon."
By some the lily is supposed to be meant by the term חֲבִצֶּלֶת (chabatstse'leth, "rose"), in Isa 35:1; Song 2:1. For further details, consult Oken, Lehrb. d. Naturgesch. II, 1:757; Rosenmüller, Bibl. Alterth. 4:138; Celsius, Hierobot. 1:383 sq.; Billerbeck, Flosta Class. page 90 sq.; Gesenius, Thes. Heb. page 1385; Penny Cyclopaedia, s.v. Lotus.