This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
This flower, so celebrated by the poets of antiquity, is only mentioned twice in the Bible: Solomon's Song ii. 1; Isaiah xxxv. 1. But there is more to be learned in these two passages than some who have been Rose-cultivators for years have ever imagined. As in noticing other flowers referred to in the Scriptures, I have mentioned the original Hebrew, I shall do so on this occasion, as it is not a mere name in that language, but a word conveying ideas full of instructive meaning:.
In English letters, the word translated Rose would be chabatze-leth or khobzeleth; and though, from old associations, we may prefer our monosyllable as a name for this favourite flower, the Hebrew trisyllable will be more admired the better it is understood. Some roots (bulbs, for instance) contain, as we are well aware, the flower in embryo; and though the derivation of this word is a disputed point among Hebraists, yet, according to our own version and other high authorities, it is composed of two parts or roots, which contain, I may say, a miniature of the flower in question. One of them signifies to hide, and the other to overshadow; and with all due deference to our venerable translators, some learned men have judged that ' opening Rose' would be the most literal rendering of the Hebrew word in the passages of Scripture to which we refer. As to the flower itself, which every true Florist will still allow to be the flower-royal of the parterre, is there any that appears so beautiful in the opening stages? Petal overshadowing petal, one leaf hiding as it were in the bosom of the next, truly describes the khobzeleth.
A Rose may be a perfect beauty, either when partially unclosed or in its full bloom; and some who are not scientific Florists probably esteem it most highly in the former condition. Looking at the Rose in its perfect development, we see no lines but the curves of beauty; circle within circle, even to the innermost circlet, we perceive only one round of perfectness after another. Again, as to each separate leaf; there is not one misshapen, not one inodorous. And the man of science will tell us that the much-admired variety in the colour of the Rose depends wholly on its various capabilities for the reflection of light - the pure white reflecting equally to our eye all the rays; and the pure red Rose the rays that are red.
Let us carry with us all these various thoughts about the natural Rose, in attempting to consider the first text of Scripture wherein it is mentioned: Song of Solomon ii. 1: I am the Rose of Sharon. Sharon, be it observed, on account of the excellency of its fruitful soil (see Isa. xxxv. 2), is said to have produced the richest fruits and the sweetest flowers, so as to be quite proverbial for its beauty, till it was turned into a wilderness (Isa. xxxiii. P) because of the sins of the inhabitants of the land. Who is it, then, my friends, that in these remarkable words - condescending, as it were, to address us in language on a level with our understandings and tastes - challenges our admiration, as in the full consciousness that none but the blind can dispute His title to the pre-eminence He claims? I have on my side the unanimous judgment of all commentators, Jewish and Christian, in saying, a greater than Solomon is here. It is Christ Himself who chooses this language to draw our regards, graciously using every means to awaken our attention to His supreme excellency.
The word khobzeleth, already explained, may remind us of the overshadowing perfection and hidden glories of the Son of God, which we may not now penetrate; and that it is but the opening, the partial unfolding of His excellency that even the most earnest believer can contemplate in this present world. But there is every thing unfolded that can attract and enchain the love of every human heart that needs relief from its sins, or a resting-place in its sorrows. The circle of perfection knows no termination. The heart once fixed on Christ will find enough in Him to satisfy it for ever. In the same book to which we refer for this simile of the Rose of Sharon, there is a passage which may remind us of what has been said as to the white and red Rose. (See Song of Solomon v. 10.) Coming forth from the Father in spotless purity, the light of the world, He might be compared to the white Rose, reflecting all the assembled rays of heaven, as it is written, " the brightness of His glory," " without blemish and without spot;" and, going back to the Father, how expressive an emblem do we find in the red Rose of Sharon; for then, if I may so speak, the red rays were reflected before a guilty world.
The wrath due to sinners was borne by Him, and "by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption." Heb. ix. 12.
Oh, that we may not only taste the great salvation thus accomplished, but know what it is to have Christ in us. And if this Rose be treasured in our bosoms, even though the rich possession be unseen by others, the odour will make it known; the fragrancy of holiness will be diffused over our whole walk; others will take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus.
The second passage of Scripture in which the Rose is mentioned is prophetic, and would carry us beyond our present limits. I need only say that the simile of blossoming as a Rose, applied to a place that had previously been a desert, is abundantly beautiful, as setting forth that succession of bloom peculiar to some Rose-trees, which are never without their blossoms from one end of the year to the other.