Lily: 1. The Hebrew name shushan or shoshan, i.e., "whiteness", was used as
the general name of several plants common to Syria, such as the
tulip, iris, anemone, gladiolus, ranunculus, etc. Some interpret
it, with much probability, as denoting in the Old Testament the
water-lily (Nymphoea lotus of Linn.), or lotus
(The Song of Solomon 2:1,2; 2:16; 4:5)
(The Song of Solomon 5:13; 6:2,3; 7:2) "Its flowers are large, and they are of a white
colour, with streaks of pink. They supplied models for the ornaments
of the pillars and the molten sea"
(1 Kings 7:19,22,26; 2 Chronicles 4:5) In
the Canticles its beauty and fragrance shadow forth the preciousness
of Christ to the Church. Groser, however (Scrip. Nat. Hist.),
strongly argues that the word, both in the Old and New Testaments,
denotes liliaceous plants in general, or if one genus is to be
selected, that it must be the genus Iris, which is "large, vigorous,
elegant in form, and gorgeous in colouring."
2. The lilies (Gr. krinia) spoken of in the New Testament
(Luke 12:27) were probably the scarlet martagon (Lilium Chalcedonicum)
or "red Turk's-cap lily", which "comes into flower at the season of
the year when our Lord's sermon on the mount is supposed to have
been delivered. It is abundant in the district of Galilee; and its
fine scarlet flowers render it a very conspicous and showy object,
which would naturally attract the attention of the hearers"
(Balfour's Plants of the Bible). Of the true "floral glories of
Palestine" the pheasant's eye (Adonis Palestina), the ranunuculus
(R. Asiaticus), and the anemone (A coronaria), the last named is
however, with the greatest probability regarded as the "lily of the
field" to which our Lord refers. "Certainly," says Tristram (Nat.
Hist. of the Bible), "if, in the wondrous richness of bloom which
characterizes the land of Israel in spring, any one plant can claim
pre-eminence, it is the anemone, the most natural flower for our
Lord to pluck and seize upon as an illustration, whether walking in
the fields or sitting on the hill-side." "The white water-lily
(Nymphcea alba) and the yellow water-lily (Nuphar lutea) are both
abundant in the marshes of the Upper Jordan, but have no connection
with the lily of Scripture."