Home >> Cyclopedia Of Biblical Literature >> Kaneh to Lazarus >> Krinon


lily, white, plant, flowers, palestine, syria, wild, lilium and found

KRINON (kpfrov). This plant is mentioned in the well-known and beautiful passage (Matt. vi. 28) : Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow ; they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these ;' so also in Luke xii. 27. Here it is evident that the plant alluded to must have been indigenous or grown wild, in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee, must have been of an ornamental chamcter, and, from the Greek term kpfpof, being applied to it, of a hliaceous nature. The name A-ply°, occurs in the old Greek writers. Theophrastus uses it, and is supposed by Sprengel to apply it to species of Narcissus and to Lilium candidum. Dioscorides indicates two spe cies, but very imperfectly : one of them is supposed to be the Lilium candidum, and the other, with a reddish flower, may be L. martagon, or L. choice danicum. He alludes more particularly to the lilies of Syria and of Pamphylia being well suited for making the ointment of lily. Pliny enumerates three kinds—a white, a red, and a purple-coloured lily. Travellers in Palestine mention that in the month of January the fields and groves everywhere abound with various species of lily, tulip, and nar cissus. Benard noticed, near Acre, on Jan. 18th, and about Jaffa, on the 23d, tulips, white, red, blue, etc. Gumpenberg saw the meadows of Galilee covered with the same flowers on the 3rst. Tulips figure conspicuously among the flowers of Palestine, varieties probably of Tulipa gesneriana (Kitto's Palestine, p. cexv.) So Pococke says, I saw many tulips growing wild in the fields (in March), and any one who considers how beautiful those flowers are to the eye, would be apt to con jecture that these are the lilies to which Solomon in all his glory was not to be compared.' This is much more likely to be the plant intended than some others which have been adduced, as, for in stance, the scarlet amaryllis, having white flowers with bright purple streaks, found by Salt at Adowa. Others have preferred the Crown imperiat which is a native of Persia and Cashmere. Most authors have united in considering the white lily, Lilium candidum, to be the plant to which our Saviour re ferred ; but it is doubtful whether it has ever been found in a wild state in Palestine. Some, indeed, have thought it to be a native of the new world. Dr. Lindley, however, in the Gardeners' Chronicle (ii. 744), says, This notion cannot be sustained, because the white lily occurs in an engraving of the Annunciation, executed somewhere about 1430 by Martin Schongauer ; and the first voyage of Col umbus did not take place till 1492. In this very rare print the lily is represented as growing in an ornamental vase, a.s if it were cultivated as a curious

object.' This opinion is confirmed by a corre spondent at Aleppo (Gardeners' Chronicle,iii. 429), who has resided long in Syria, but is acquainted only with the botany of Aleppo and Antioch : I never saw the white lily in a wild state, nor have I heard of its being so in Syria. It is cultivated here on the roofs of the houses in pots as an exotic bulb, like the daffodil.' In consequence of this difficulty, the late Sir J. E. Smith was of opinion that the plant alluded to under the name of lily was the Amaryllis hetea (now Oporanthus luteus), 'whose golden liliaceous flowers in autumn afford one of the most brilliant and gorgeous objects in nature, as the fields of the Levant are overrun with them ; to them the expression of Solomon, in all his glory, not being arrayed like one of them, is peculiarly appropriate.' Dr. Lindley conceives, it to be much more probable that the plant intended by our Saviour was the lxiolirian montanum, a plant allied to the amalyllis, of very great beauty, with a slender stem, and clusters of the most deli cate violet flowers, abounding in Palestine, where Col. Chesney found it in the most brilliant pro fusion (I. c., p. 744). In reply to this, a corre spondent furnishes an extract of a letter from Dr. Bowring, which throws a new light upon the subject : I cannot describe to you with botanical accuracy the lily of Palestine. I heard it called by the title of Lilia syriaca, and I imagine under this title its botanical characteristics may be hunted out. Its colour is a brilliant red ; its size about half that of the common tiger lily. The white lily I do not remember to have seen in any part of Syria. It was in April and May that I observed my flower, and it was most abundant in the district of Galilee, where it and the Rhododendron Yvhich grew in rich abundance round the paths) most strongly excited my attention.' On this Dr. Lindley observes, 'It is clear that neither the white lily, nor the Opanm thus luteus, nor /xidirion, will answer to Dr. Bowring's description, which seems to point to the Chalcedonian or scarlet martagon lily, formerly called the lily of Byzantium, found from the Adriatic to the Levant, and which, with its scarlet turban-like flowers, is indeed a most stately and striking object ' (Gardeners' Chronicle,ii. 854). As this lily (the Lilium chalcedonicum of botanists) is in flower at the season of the year when the sermon on the Mount is supposed to have been spoken, is indigenous in the very locality, and is conspicuous, even in the garden, for its remarkable showy flowers, there can now be little doubt that it is the plant alluded to by our Saviour.—J. F. R.