Blaz0ej S0trba, «hn#$w#$ of the Canticle», Vol. 85 (2004) 475-502
The term hn#$w#$ is revisited
primarily in the Canticle of Solomon. The most ancient translation –– "lily" ––
of this flower though questioned in recent decades is still widely used. The
LXX’s rendering kri/non is examined and found as the
best translation for the lexeme N#$w#$ –– meaning
"lotus" –– being an Egyptian loan word. This translation fits to the OT
references better than "lily". The textual employment of
hn#$w#$ in the poetry of the Canticle is a chief and commanding proof for
"lotus". The "lily" translation for both hn#$w#$
and kri/non for the majority of the OT cases is seen
as incorrect since it does not pay due attention to the literary and historical
context of the Canticle.
of the Canticle 497
The Canticle is in many ways similar to the Egyptian love songs
and its language can be understood better. The love appears to be a
kind of primeval power which rules the whole universe (89). For the
sake of this research it is important to remember this parallel. The
flower sÏ€n â€œlotusâ€ â€“â€“ predominantly Nymphaea lotos â€“â€“ as indicated
above has manifold uses in the Egyptian iconographic culture as well
as in the poetical literature. Although the literary setting of the Song
reflects the Syro-Palestine region, the link with the nature, customs
and the royal background point also to far away countries and regions.
No poet will ever spare the superlative concepts for such a supreme
thing as love. The use of the flower hnvwv â€œlotusâ€ in the context of the
Song could be easily ascribed to the wise and inventive Solomon, who
is illustrated in the narrative 1 Kgs 1â€“11 as keeping close international
relations with Egypt.
f) hnvwv in the final prophecy of Hosea, 14,6
The epilogue of Hoseaâ€™s prophecy (14,2-9.10) (90) is a solemn
conclusion full of hope. This proclamation of the divine love is
articulated in two parts: 1) an encouragement of the prophet addressed
to the people to return to the Lord (vv. 2-4) and 2) the answer of God
to the prophet regarding the people promising His love (vv. 5-10).
In vv. 6-8 there are seven comparisons â€œlikeâ€ of which the first is
about God and the other six are about the people of Israel. The first
comparison v. 6(a) makes the hearers understand the benevolence and
the blessing of God: â€œI will be like dew to Israelâ€. The following
comparison is the first for Israel and describes its growth and vitality,
v. 6(b). The second aims at the firmness and safety of Israel, v. 6(c).
The next two â€œlikeâ€ phrases, v. 7(bc), speak about the majesty and
fragrance of Israel. The last two comparisons speak about the
beneficent consequence in the future. Every one regains life and will
be a memorial to the rebirth of Israel (v. 8). For the sake of clarity we
present these 7 comparisons dividing the verses 6-8 in cola.
(89) Cf. A. NICCACCI, â€œCantico dei Cantici e canti dâ€™amore egizianiâ€, SBFLA
41 (1991) 61-85.
(90) For recent re-examination of the unity of 14,6-10, see K. BERGE,
â€œWeisheitliche Hosea-Interpretation? Zur Frage nach KohÃ¤renz und literarischem
Horizont von Hosea 14,6-10â€, â€œWer darf hinaufsteigen zum Berg JHWHs?â€
BeitrÃ¤ge zu Prophetie und Poesie des Alten Testaments. Festschrift S.Ã–.
SteingrÃmsson (Hrsg. H. IRSIGLER â€“ K. Ã“LASON) (ATS 72; St. Ottilien 2002) 3-23.