Jesus—Rose of Sharon

From Issue: Discovery 6/1/2001

The song leader stands before the congregation and announces the number of the next hymn. As you turn the pages, you quickly realize that you know the song—”Jesus, Rose of Sharon.” But if you are anything like most of the people singing, truth be told, you do not know what the term “Rose of Sharon” means. So, what does it mean?

This may come as a shock, but the phrase is used only once in the entire Bible, and it does not refer to Jesus. In Song of Solomon 2:1, Solomon’s wife describes herself as the “rose of Sharon.” From her description, we can see that it is a complimentary term that expresses beauty.

The word Sharon (also spelled Saron) means a level place or plain, and is found in numerous verses in the Bible, including Acts 9:35 and 1 Chronicles 27:29. In God’s Word, the term is used to describe one of the largest plains in all of the land of Palestine. You can locate this valley by looking just north of the city of Joppa on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

From what we know about the place, the Sharon valley was a fertile plain that was home to many beautiful flowers. Isaiah 35:2 lists Sharon in a context discussing blooming plants and describes the valley as “excellent.” Sharon was renowned for its majesty and beauty, but what about its “rose?”

A true rose, like the one sweethearts exchange on Valentine’s day, is probably not what the Bible calls the “rose of Sharon,” since these flowers are very uncommon in Palestine. In fact, although no one can say for certain which flower is the actual “rose of Sharon,” many scholars think the best guess is the cistus (also known as the rock-rose). The cistus blooms in various parts of the land of Palestine, and in ancient times was known for its soothing aroma and pain-relieving qualities.

No one knows for sure when or why the term “rose of Sharon” was given to Jesus. But some reasons do make good sense. Christ’s healing powers and pain-relieving actions were similar to certain traits of the rock-rose. Is it any wonder that the “Great Physician,” Who came to physically heal the sick and spiritually take away the plague of sin from the world, should be given the name of a flower known for its sweet aroma and pain-relieving qualities?


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