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According to Exodus 31:2-3, Bezalel had divine wisdom and used it in his crafting of the tabernacle. Huram succeeded him and crafted the articles for the temple.

The capitals which were on top of the pillars in the hall were in the shape of lilies, four cubits.(1 Kings:7.19)

The tops of the pillars were in the shape of lilies. So the work of the pillars was finished.(1 Kings:7.22)

It was a handbreadth thick; and its brim was shaped like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It contained two thousand baths.(1 Kings:7.26)

QUESTION: Was there an inspired reason for this, why would huram under the influence of divine wisdom cast lilies into the pillars of the temple.

Note: 1) According to 1-Kings 4:33, Solomon was speaking about plants at the time.

Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall.. (1-Kings 4:33)

2) Pillars were very important in ancient Israel. All Kings were anointed by pillars.

When she looked, there was the king standing by a pillar according to custom...(2-Kings 11:14)

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  • Solomon's teachings about plants may inform his extensive reference to plants in songs of songs. When Jesus was speaking about Solomon's beauty, he used lilies to make that comparison. So even Jesus comes into this picture.
    – user20490
    Nov 27, 2017 at 20:44
  • The lilies of the field which are today and perish tomorrow, Even they are clothed more gloriously than Solomon. And despite the futility that they symbolised, Huram still casted lilies onto the pillars of the temple.
    – user20490
    Nov 27, 2017 at 20:46
  • So that's why understanding Huram's motive is important especially as they relate to this passage.
    – user20490
    Nov 27, 2017 at 20:52
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    cf. Mt 6:28-9/Lk 12:27; Mt 12:6,42b/Luke 11:31b. Song 2:2. It seems to have been renouned for its beauty, quite simply. Nov 27, 2017 at 22:56
  • Thanks for the interesting article but The Bible says in Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:27 that the lillies do NOT toil. “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”
    – Kate
    Jan 22, 2022 at 5:14

3 Answers 3

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To answer, I will take a quote of Reverend Branham on the lily . Quote Branham 56-0617 - #28 - Revelation, Book Of Symbols

The tree reveals Jesus Christ. The flower reveals Jesus Christ. The sanctified life reveals Jesus Christ. Sure. Say, “How could the flower reveal Jesus Christ?” It dies in the fall and rises in the spring. Amen. It serves its place on earth, and beautifies. It opens up its little heart like that, and the passer-by says, “Oh, isn't that wonderful! What an odor! What aroma, to smell the flower!” And the bee comes by and says, “I'll take my part out.” The sightseer comes by and takes his part out. And he toils day and night, to keep radiant, to give himself out to somebody else. No wonder Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they toil, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that Solomon, in all of his glory, was not arrayed like that.”

Then, the lily was revealing Christ. He was called “the lily of the valley, the rose of Sharon.” See it?

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60-1002 - #82 - The Kinsman Redeemer Branham

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they toil, and neither.... I say yet, Solomon in all of his glory....” A lily has to struggle day and night to get the radiance to keep his garments, to keep the perfume and things going. And others, he just opens up hisself and they come by and take it out of him. The bee and the fly, and everything that comes by, good or bad, just takes from him.

That's the way the servant is, of Christ, the Christian servant. Opens himself up, “Just take from me, world.” Nothing for himself, it's for the others. That's what Christ become when He become kinfolks to us. He become man that the world might partake of His righteousness, see, and be made sons of God.

62-0401 - #165 - Wisdom Versus Faith - Branham

The lily toils hard. You remember my sermon not long ago, a few years ago, on Mr. Lily. He toils where.... Jesus said how he toiled, “And neither does he spin, and yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one.” How that lily draws to make itself pretty. What for? Just to be given out to pass by [Brother Branham sniffs.], smells the perfume. The bee flies right into his heart and takes the very honey right away from him; he just gives it freely. Toils to do it! Hallelujah! That's a real man of God: Pastor Lily, Reverend Mr. Lily (yes, sir!), that toils at the Word, lays on his face, and cries out to God, “God, I can't see where this will meet here, here.” It's got to come by the Word. When you see it and God gives it to you, then go freely; not to have some big campaign, “If you guarantee me so many thousand dollars, I'll come,” but freely. “If it's Timbuktu or wherever it is, God, where you want me to sow the seed, I give it freely.” Halleluja

The lily is a beautiful type of life of self sacrifice and service, a type and representation of true Christianity, true spirit of Christ.

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Article is great, the replies, especially the speeches are full of dressed up words with no real truth. So many opinions spouted, and most of the time with little or no scriptural base or correlation to the context. Jesus lesson, for any who care to read the passage is that NO, HE IS NOT LIKE A FLOWER. This part of the Sermon on the mount was to put God and the kingdom first in one's life, not riches. After all, Jesus himself said he came to preach the kingdom (Luke 4:43)

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Definition and Greek equivalent

The word translated as "Lily" is šûšan. It is the origin of the English name "Susan".

In the 1950s-1980s, many insisted a white lily was meant by šûšan - for this view, see Mordechai Cogan's commentary on 1 Kings4. However more recent scholarship tends to favor the hypothesis that this is a loanword. Here is one of the best experts at ANE iconography, Othmar Keel, in the Continental Commentary1:

The Hebrew word שֹׁושׁנה or שֹׁושׁן is borrowed from Egypt, where it clearly means the water lily or lotus. Nevertheless, most translators have preferred simply “lily,” arguing that Israel had no water lilies. But they are wrong; even today one can find there the white water lily (Nymphaea alba L.), common also in Europe, and the sweet-smelling African blue water lily (Nymphaea caerulea Savigny). When Sharon was full of marshes, there would have been more water lilies than today. But there is an even better argument for translating שֹׁושׁנה as “water lily” or “lotus.” The OT reports that the brim of the molten sea took the shape of the שֹׁושׁן (1 Kgs 7:26*). Vessels in the form of lotus blossoms (like the chalice in fig. 31) are known both in Egypt and in Israel but there are none in the form of lilies. One also reads of capitals in שֹׁושׁן form (1 Kgs 7:19*, 22*). All kinds of lotus capitals have been found (fig. 32), but no lily capitals. At least some scholars who equate שֹׁושׁנה with the lily admit that in these technical expressions relating to construction שֹׁושׁנה means lotus, but not, they say, in the Song. They follow the translators of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, who rendered שֹׁושׁנה with κρίνον (lily). But the latter were merely conforming the OT to the Greek world, as Herodotus, the first famous Greek tourist in Egypt, had already done (ca. 450 B.C.): “When the river is in flood and overflows the plains, many lilies, which the Egyptians call lotus, grow in the water.”[Herodotus 2.92; tr. A. D. Godley, Herodotus, vol. 1, rev. ed., LCL (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1926, 1966) 377.]

The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament takes a middle ground2, accepting that šûšan is a loanword from Egyptian ššn/šwšn which means lotus flower, but arguing that in Hebrew, it can refer to either a rose, or lily, or any flower with a bell shaped blossom, and sometimes to all flowers. In Syriac šawšantāʾ means only "lily", and in Arabic sausan refers to iris.

As in the New Testament, reference is made to "the lily[κρίνον] of the field", and as there is no other known word that specifically means "lily" in Biblical Hebrew, I will accept the TDOT definition going forward and assume that this is the flower that was meant in the gospels as well. E.g. that κρίνον has Hebrew equivalents שׁוּשַׁן,פֶּ֫רַח and חֲבַצֶּ֫לֶת. This is the standard view of analytical lexicons2

Fun Fact: where many older bibles translate "the rose [חֲבַצֶּ֫לֶת] of Sharon", most modern lexicons gloss this as crocus or asphodel. If really a rose was meant, the word would most likely be šûšan. But getting plants and animals right is often difficult for translators of ancient texts, and scholars continue to debate this.

Symbolic Meaning

In Egypt, the lotus was the primary symbol of regeneration and this meaning was also carried over to Palestine5:

In the first millennium B.C. the lotus was one of the favorite symbols in the region stretching from Egypt to Syria. On small objects of Egyptian and Phoenician art, like ivory carvings, metal work (fig. 33), scarabs, and other seal amulets (fig. 34), one finds the sun-god as a child sitting in a lotus blossom. In Egyptian mythology the lotus represents the transition from the dark primeval waters to the ordered world. It is a primary symbol of the Egyptian idea of regeneration. At every opportunity, Egyptian gods and human beings—living and dead-smell lotus flowers in order to capture their regenerative powers, to become as young and fresh as the sun-god at dawn. People in Palestine/Israel were also familiar with this custom, as shown, for example, by scarabs (figs. 3536), ivories (cf. fig. 64), and wall paintings (fig. 37). In Egypt the head of a person who had died was portrayed in a lotus flower so that the person might go forth from it like the morning sun, new and rejuvenated (fig. 38). Even now, the water lily, opening out of the water in all its radiance, serves to symbolize the freshness provided by soaps, bath accessories, and cosmetics of all kinds. When a woman in an ancient Egyptian love song calls her beloved “my lotus,”[Cairo Love Songs, group A, no. 20C; tr. Fox, 32.] or when the woman here calls herself a lotus flower, it means they are able and willing to bestow renewed power—“Love’s sweet breath—a new-born life.”

As a result, the sexual references in the Song of Solomon involving lilies can be interpreted as references to fertility and thus the bringing forth of new life.

But more interesting is the comparison of the Lily to the (female beloved) - that is, God's people, who are then also assumed to be imbued with new life - born again.

Hosea 14:5 (LEB)

I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like the lily plant, and he will strike his roots like the trees of Lebanon.

The explicit association to the beloved as a lily can also be seen in Song of Solomon:

 [Bride] I am the rose of Sharon,
  And the lily of the valleys.

 [Groom] As the lily among thorns,
  So is my love [beloved] among the daughters.
         - Song of Solomon 2:1–2 (KJV 1900)

The bride is among thorns (that can choke the beloved). The thorns are analogous to the other daughters, the ones that aren't chosen by the groom and are not given new life - thus to the world out of which the bride is chosen.

Moreover the groom dwells among the lilies [Song 2.16, 6.2] and he gathers the lilies to himself [Song 6.2], so God can be found dwelling among those who have the new life, which is why the temple was decorated with lilies.

In the Parable of the Sower, the "thorns" are identified as the cares of the world [Luke 8.14]. These choke the new life. This can be seen in the story of Mary and Martha:

Luke 10:38–42 (LEB)

38 Now as they traveled along, he entered into a certain village. And a certain woman ⌊named⌋ Martha welcomed him. 39 And ⌊she had⌋ a sister named Mary, who also sat at the feet of Jesus and was listening to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much preparation, so she approached and said, “Lord, is it not a concern to you that my sister has left me alone to make preparations? Then tell her that she should help me!” 41 But the Lord answered and* said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things! 42 But few things are necessary, or only one thing, for Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Mary was like the lily, at rest with her beloved, neither toiling nor spinning [Luke 12.27], whereas Martha was running around, seeing only the cares of the world and not resting with Christ. But God only dwells among those who have new life because the new life is God dwelling in them, and the indwelling occurs for those who do not toil or spin. For them, he renews and becomes their strength, which is why the pillars of the temple whose names were related to God's support and strength were adorned with lilies.

Referenced Figures

The images and text of descriptions below are from Keel's commentary:

  • Figure 31: Egyptian Chalice in the form of a Lotus blossom, circa 1500 BC.

Figure 31

  • Figure 32: Two capitals in the form of lotus blossoms (left, from the mortuary structure of Ptahshepses in Abusir, between 2500 and 2350 B.C.; right, from the palace of Apries in Memphis, between 590 and 570 B.C.)

Figure 32

  • Figure 33: The young sun-god, with the sun disk overhead, sits on the opened primeval lotus, the symbol of the powers that can overcome death and chaos. (He is meant to be within the flower.) The finger in his mouth and the side curl shows him to be a child; the scepter in his right hand show him to be the ruler. He is flanked by two protecting asps. (Bracelet of a son of Pharaoh Sheshonk I, mentioned in 1 Kgs, 14:25; ca. 930 B.C.)

Figure 33

  • Figure 34: The young sun-god, seated on the lotus, is also portrayed on a seal that, according to the inscription on the opposite side (not pictured), belonged to a man with the typical Judean name “Asyo, son of Yokim.” ‘asyo means “Yahweh made”; yoqim, “Yahweh let arise” (eighth/seventh century B.C.)

Figure 34

  • Figure 35: While walking, a man smells a large lotus blossom; its aroma is life renewing (cf. fig. 150). (Scarab from Beth-shan; ca. 1400 B.C.) Figure 35

  • Figure 36: A seated man smells a very large lotus blossom. (Scarab from Beth-shemesh; between 1000 and 800 B.C.)

Figure 36

  • Figure 37: A man on a throne smells a lotus blossom. (Wall painting from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud; ca. 800 B.C.)

Figure 37

  • Figure 38:The head of Tutankhamen emerges from a lotus flower. The head of the dead person was portrayed in the primeval lotus so that, in analogy to the sun (figs. 33 and 34), he might break forth from it filled with renewed vitality. (Wood sculpture overlaid with plaster and painted; tomb of Tutankhamen, ca. 1325 B.C.) This same motif occurs frequently in the death papyri.

Figure 38

  • Figure 64:Fig. 64. A Canaanite king, returned from a victory, seated on his cherub throne. The princess (cf. figs. 39 and 40) offers him a lotus blossom and a towel. The musician at the right plays the lyre, while, at the left, two servants draw wine from a large mixing vessel. (Ivory engraving from Megiddo; ca. 1300 B.C.) the actualization of a happy situation and 2:17 expresses the wish to experience this happiness again and again (the move from indicative to imperative implies a connection). In content, the “grazing” of 2:16 and the gazelle comparison of 2:17d unite the two parts. Verse 17c–f occurs again in 8:14, although with a significant variation (“make haste,” i.e., flee, instead of “turn,” i.e., return). The connections in 8:14 are too opaque to be of any help in a decision here.

Figure 64


  1. Othmar Keel, A Continental Commentary: The Song of Songs (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994), 78.

  2. H. Schmoldt, “שׁוּשַׁן,” ed. G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry, trans. Douglas W. Stott, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), 553.

  3. The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Logos Bible Software, 2011).

  4. Mordechai Cogan, I Kings: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 10, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 263.

  5. Keel, p.80.

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