Rose (חֲבִצֶּלֶת, chabatstseleth; Sept. κρίνον, ἄνθος; Aq. κάλυξ; Vulg. flos, lilium) occurs twice only in the canonical Scriptures; namely, first in Song 2:1, where the bride replies, "I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley," and secondly in Isa 35:1, "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose." There is much difference of opinion as to what particular flower is here denoted, and the question perhaps does not admit of definite determination. Tremellius and Diodati, with some of the rabbins, believe the rose is intended, but there seems to be no foundation for such a translation. The Sept. renders it simply by flower in the passage of the Canticles. In this it has been followed by the Latin Vulgate, Luther, etc. It is curious, however, as remarked by Celsius (Hierobot. 1, 489), that many of those who translate chabatstseleth by rose or flower in the passage of the Canticles render it by lily in that of Isaiah. The rose was, no doubt, highly esteemed by the Greeks, as it was, and still is, by almost all Asiatic nations; and as it forms a very frequent subject of allusion in Persian poetry, it has been inferred that we might expect some reference to so favorite a flower in the poetical books of the Scripture, and that no other is better calculated to illustrate the above two passages. But this does not prove that the word chabatstseleth or any similar one was ever applied to the rose. Other flowers, therefore, have been indicated, to which the name chabatstseleth may be supposed, from its derivation, to apply more fitly. Scheuzer refers to Hiller (Hierophyt. p. 2), who seeks chabatstseleth among the bulbous-rooted plants, remarking that the Hebrew word may be derived from chabab and batsal, a bulb, or bulbous root, of any plant, as we have seen it applied to the onion (q.v.). So Rosenmüller remarks that the substantial part of the Hebrew name shows that it denotes a flower growing from a bulb, and adds in a note "that chabatstseleth is formed from betsel, or bulb, the guttural cheth being sometimes put before triliterals in order to form quadriliterals from them" (see Gesen. Gram. p. 863). Some, therefore, have selected the asphodel as the bulbous plant intended, respecting which the author of Scripture Illustrated remarks, "It is a very beautiful and odoriferous flower, and highly praised by two of the greatest masters of Grecian song. Hesiod says it grows commonly in woods, and Homer (Odyss. 1, 24) calls the Elysian Fields 'meads filled with asphodel.'" Celsius (loc. cit.) has already remarked that Bochart has translated chabatstseleth by narcissus (Polyanthus narcissus), and not without reason, as some Oriental translators have so explained it. In the Targum (Song 2:1), instead of chabatstseleth we have narkom (נרקו ם), which, however, should have been written narkos (ניקוס), as appears from the words of David Cohen de Lara, "Narkos is the same as chabatstseleth of Sharon." So in Isa 35:1, chabatstseleth is written chamzaloito in the Syrian translation, which is the same as narcissus (Cels. Hierobot. 1, 489). This, Rosenmüller informs us (Bibl. Bot. p. 142), according to the testimony of Syriac-Arabic dictionaries, denotes the Colchicum autumnale, that is, the meadow saffron. That plant certainly has a bulb-like rootstock in form the flowers resemble those of the crocus, and are of a light violet color, without scent. Narkom and narkos are, no doubt. the same as the Persian nurgus, which throughout the East indicates the Narcissus tazetta, or the Polyanthus narcissus. The ancients describe and allude to the narcissus on various occasions, and Celsius has quoted various passages from the poets indicative of the esteem in which it was held. Since they were not so particular as the moderns in distinguishing species, it is probable that more than one may be referred to by them, and therefore that N. tazetta may be included under the same name as N. poeticus, which was best known to them. It is not unimportant to remark that the narcissus was also called Bulbus vomitorius, or the Emetic bulbus, in Greek and Latin; and the Arabic busl- al-kye no doubt refers to the same or a kindred species. It is curious, also, that an Eastern name, or the corruption of one, should be applied by gardeners even in England to a species of narcissus: thus, N. trewriamus and crenulatus (the former supposed by some to be a variety of N. orientalis) were once called "Bazalman major" and "Bazalman minor." That the narcissus is found in Syria and Palestine is well known, as it has been mentioned by several travelers, and also that it is highly esteemed by all Asiatics from Syria even as far as India (comp. Soph. (Ed. Col. p. 698 sq., Mosch. Idyl. 2, 65 sq.; Athen. 15, 679 sq.). Chateaubriand (Itineraire, 2, 130) mentions the narcissus as growing in the plain of Sharon; and Strand (Flor. Palest. No. 177) names it as a plant of Palestine, on the authority of Rauwolf and Hasselquist (see also Kitto, Phys. Hist. of Palest. p. 216). Hiller (Hierophyt. 2, 30) thinks the chabatstseleth denotes some species of asphodel (Asphodelus); but the finger-like roots of this genus of plants do not well accord with the "bulb" root implied in the original word. Thomson (Land and Book, 1, 161; 2, 269) suggests the possibility of the Hebrew name being identical with the Arabic khubbaizy, "the mallow, "which plant he saw growing abundantly on Sharon; but this view can hardly be maintained. The Hebrew term is probably a quadriliteral noun with the harsh aspirate prefixed, and the prominent notion implied in it is betsel "a bulb" and has therefore no connection with the above-named Arabic word. The narcissus alone is still called buseil by the natives of Palestine (Quar. Statement of the Palest. Explor. Soc. Jan. 1878, p. 46). SEE SHARON.
Though the rose is apparently not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, it is referred to in Ecclesiastes 24:14, where it is said of Wisdom that she is exalted "as a rose-plant (ώς φυτὰ ῥόδου) in Jericho" (comp. Mishna, Maaser, 2, 5). So also in Ecclesiates 39:13, "And bud forth as a rose growing by the brook of the field;" and the high priest's ornaments are compared in 18 to "the flowers of roses in the spring of the year." But the passage in the book of Wisdom (2, 8; comp. Pliny, 21, 6; Athen. 15, 683), "Let us crown ourselves with roses ere they be withered," is especially well suited to the rose. Yet roses have not been found by travelers in the neighborhood of Jericho. They cannot be considered exactly as spring flowers, nor do they grow specially by the sides of brooks. The rose was as highly esteemed among ancient as it is among modern nations, if we may judge by the frequent references to it in the poets of antiquity. As we know that it continues to be the favorite flower of the Persians, and is much cultivated in Egypt (Hasselquist, Trav. p. 248; Russegger, Reis. 1, 1, 193), we might expect more frequent mention of some of its numerous species and varieties in the Jewish writings. This, however, is not the case, which probably arises from its being less common in a wild state in a comparatively dry and warm climate like that of Syria. Still it is indigenous in some parts. Monro, as quoted by Kitto in the Physical History of Palestine, "found in the valley of Baalbec a creeping rose of a bright- yellow color in fill bloom about the end of May. About the same time, on advancing towards Rama and Joppa from Jerusalem, the hills are found to be to a considerable extent covered with white and pink roses. The gardens of Rama itself abound in roses of a powerful fragrance." Mariti, as stated by Rosenmüller, found the greatest quantity of roses in the hamlet of St. John, in the desert of the same name. "In this place the rose plants form small forests in the gardens. The greatest part of the roses reared there are brought to Jerusalem, where rosewater is prepared from them, of which the scent is so very exquisite that in every part of Lycia, and also in Cyprus, it is in request above all other rosewaters." Burckhardt was struck with the number of rose trees which he found among the ruins of Bozra beyond the Jordan. That the rose was cultivated in Damascus is well known. Indeed, one species is named Rosa Damascena from being supposed to be indigenous there. "In the gardens of the city roses are still much cultivated. Monro says that in size they are inferior to our damask rose and less perfect in form, but that their odor and color are far more rich. The only variety that exists in Damascus is a white rose, which appears to belong to the same species, differing only in color" (Kitto, loc. cit. p. 284). The attar of roses from Damascus is famous. Dr. Hooker observed the following wild roses in Syria: Rosa eglanteria L., R. sempervirens L., R. Henkeliana, R. Phoenicia Boiss., R. seriacea, R. angustifolia, and R; Libanotica. Some of these are doubtful species. R. centifolia and Damascena are cultivated everywhere. It is possible, however, that the common rose may not be the plant meant in the above passages of Ecclesiasticus, and that the name rhodon may have been used in a general sense, so as to include some rose- like plants. We have an instance of this, indeed, in the oleander, of which rhododendron, or rose tree, was one of the ancient names, and rhododaphne another. The former name is now applied to a very different genus of plants; but laurier-rose, the French translation of rhododaphne, is still the common name in France of the plant which used to be called rose bay in England, but which is now commonly called oleander. Its long and narrow leaves are like some kinds of willows, and in their hue and leathery consistence have some resemblance to the bay tree, while in its rich inflorescence it may most aptly be compared to the rose. The oleander is well known to be common in the south of Europe by the sides of rivers and torrents, also in Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt. It is seen in similar situations in the north of India, and nothing can be conceived more beautiful than the rivulets at the foot of the mountains, with their banks lined with thickets of oleanders, crowned with large bunches of roseate colored flowers. Most travelers in Palestine have been struck with the beauty of this plant. Of the neighborhood of Tripoli, Rauwolf says, "There also by the river's side are found Anthilis marina, etc., and oleander with purple flowers, by the inhabitants called defle." At the foot of Lebanon, again, he says, "In the valley further down towards the water, grew also the oleander." It is mentioned as a conspicuous object in similar situations by Robinson and Smith. Kitto says, "Among the plants in flower in April, the oleander flourishes with extraordinary vigor, and in some instances grows to a considerable size by all the waters of Palestine. When the shrub expands its splendid blossoms, the effect is truly beautiful. Lord Lindsay speaks with rapture of the glorious appearance which the groves of blooming oleanders make in this season along the streams and in the lone valleys of Palestine" (loc. cit. p. 237). "In the month of May, "adds Kitto (loc. cit. p. 244), "oleanders, continuing still in bloom, are as much noticed in this as in the preceding month by travelers. Madox noticed in this month that fine oleanders in fill bloom were growing all along the borders of the Lake of Tiberias, mostly in the water. The same observation was made by Monro. The lake is here richly margined with a wide belt of oleanders, growing in such luxuriance as they are never known to do even in the most genial parts of Europe." Such a plant could hardly escape reference, and therefore we are inclined to think that it is alluded to in the book of Ecclesiasticus by the name rhodon. If this should not be considered sufficiently near to rhododaphne and rhododendron, we may state that in Arabic writers on Materia Medica rodyon is given as the Syrian name of the oleander (see Tristram, Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 477). SEE ENGEDI.
The plant commonly called "rose of Jericho" is in no way referred to in the above-quoted passages. Dr. Lindley, in the Gardener's Chronicle, 2, 362, has thus described it: "The Anastatica Hierochuntina, or rose of Jericho of the old herbalists, is not a rose at all, nor has it the smallest resemblance to a rose; nor is it, as it is often described to be, alive as sold in the shops. It is gathered by the poor Christians of Palestine and sold to pilgrims as a charm. It is a little gray-leaved annual, very common in Palestine, and of which hundreds may be gathered in full flower in June by the sides of the road over the Isthmus of Suez (see Arvieux, Neaehr. 2, 156; Seetzen, in Zach. 17, 146; Forskal, Flora, p. 117). It produces a number of short, stiff, zigzag branches, which spread pretty equally from the top of the root, and, when green and growing, lie almost flat upon the ground, having the flowers and fruit upon their upper side. It is, in fact, a cruciferous plant, nearly related to the common purple sea-rocket, which grows on the coast of England, and has a somewhat similar habit. When the seed vessels of this plant are ripe, the branches die, and, drying up, curve inwards, so as to form a kind of ball, which then separates from the roots, and is blown about on the sands of the desert. In the cavity thus formed by the branches, the seed vessels are carefully guarded from being so disturbed as to lose their contents. In that condition the winds carry the anastatica from place to place, till at last rain falls, or it reaches a pool of water. The dry, hard branches immediately absorb the fluid, become softened, relax, and expand again into the position they occupied when alive; at the same time, the seed vessels open and the seeds fall out, germinate if favored, and become new plants. This is due, then, to the hygroscopic property of vegetable texture." So D'Arvieux, who calls the anastatica a "natural hygrometer" (see the fables told of it in Zedler, Universal Lex. 32, 867 sq.; Helmuth, Naturgesch. 8, 288 sq.). SEE ROSE OF JERICHO.