The Wisdom of Israel, by Edwin Collins, , at sacred-texts.com
"After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do, etc." (Lev. xviii. 3). This reminds one of the Scripture, "like a rose among thorns" (Song of Solomon ii. 2). Rabbi Azariah, in the name of Rabbi Judah, the son of Simon, likened this to a king who had a well-stocked plantation. In it there were fig-trees, and grape vines, pomegranates, and apple-trees, and other goodly plants. And he gave it over to the care of a husbandman, and went his way.
After many days the king looked into his plantation to know what had grown there. And he found it full of briars and thorns. Then he called mowers and woodmen, to cut down the whole plantation. And he looked in among the thorns and he saw one briar rose. He took it and smelled its perfume, and his soul rested in delight upon it. Then said the king: "For the
sake of this rose the whole plantation shall be spared."
The whole world, which was created only in order that it might bring forth righteous conduct, beautiful thoughts, wisdom, goodness, and faith, is like the plantation of this king. And God came and looked into it and found it full of sins and sinners; and those that brought forth no good fruit seemed likely to corrupt and destroy the good plants. And He called in mowers to destroy it, as it is written "the Lord sat enthroned at the deluge" (Ps. xxix.); but for the sake of Israel, who accepted the law when the ten commandments were given at Sinai, the whole world was spared. Another Rabbi applied the same parable to these verses, but he explained the rose to mean the doing of acts of kindness, love, and charity.