Answer: The Hebrew word  sharon means “a plain or a level place.” The Plain of Sharon is the  coastal plain between the mountains of central Palestine and the Mediterranean  Sea, north of Joppa to Mt. Carmel. The area is mentioned in Acts 9:35 in conjunction with the town of Lydda, which is  about eleven miles SE of Joppa and is called “Lod” in the Old Testament (1  Chronicles 8:12). Modern Israelis have reverted back to the Old Testament  name. This town is located in the midst of the Plain of Sharon. This area was  proverbially fertile and known for its flowers. The “rose of Sharon” is found in  the Song of  Solomon 2:1. Therefore, we can surmise that the rose of Sharon flower is  named for the district of Sharon.

Webster’s says that the “rose of  Sharon” is a hardy plant of the mallow family with the name “Hibiscus Syriacus”  and has white, red, pink, or purplish flowers. However, the Rose of Sharon  mentioned in the Song of Solomon is a crocus-like flower and the source of  saffron. The Hebrew word habaselet as used in Song of Solomon 2:1 is translated twice as “rose,” once here in the Song of Solomon and once in Isaiah 35:1. The translators  may indeed have used the word rose to refer to the meaning of the Hebrew  word, which is a flower similar to what we now know as a crocus or a bulb flower  like a tulip. The NIV uses a footnote that says, “Possibly a member of the  crocus family.” Therefore, the “rose of Sharon” is not really what we would  classify today as a “rose,” but it could be a plant similar to the hibiscus or  it could be a crocus or tulip.

Some Bible expositors see the rose of  Sharon as Christ and the lily as the church, His bride. Some of the early church  fathers were fond of this analogy as well. There are some parallels that may be  drawn between Christ and the rose of Sharon, but most of them fall apart when we  realize the rose is not a rose at all, but a crocus or tulip. In addition, the  church is never portrayed as a lily in the Bible. In fact, the word “lily”  doesn’t even appear in the New Testament. Some say that because the rose of  Sharon grows in dry, unfavorable conditions, it symbolizes Jesus coming from the  root of Jesse and David (Isaiah 11:1Revelation  22:16), but labeling the house of Jesse and David as “dry” has no basis in  Scripture, either. Of course, Jesus is as lovely and fragrant as a rose, but  that is insufficient to definitively identify Song of  Solomon 2:1 as symbolic of Christ.