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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
RAINFALL IN JERUSALEM IN INCHES
The amount of rainfall in ancient times was probably about the same as in present times, though it may have been distributed somewhat differently through the year, as suggested by Huntington. Conder maintains that the present amount would have been sufficient to support the ancient cities (Tent-Work in Israel). Trees are without doubt fewer now, but meteorologists agree that trees do not produce rain.
4. Dry and Rainy Seasons;
The rainfall is largely on the western slopes of the mountains facing the sea, while on the eastern slopes there is very little. The moisture-laden air comes up from the sea with the west and southwest wind. When these currents strike the hills they are thrown higher up into the cooler strata, and the moisture condenses to form clouds and rain which increases on the higher levels. Having passed the ridge of the hills, the currents descend on the other side to warmer levels, where the moisture is easily held in the form of vapor so that no rain falls and few clouds are seen, except in the cold mid-winter months.
The summer months are practically rainless, with very few clouds appearing in the sky. From May 1 to the middle of October one can be sure of no rain; "The winter is past; the rain is over" (Song 2:11), so many sleep on the roofs of the houses or in tents of leaves and branches in the fields and vineyards throughout the summer. The continuous hot droughts make the people appreciate the springs and fountains of fresh running water and the cool shade of rock and tree.
The rainy season from October to May may be divided into three parts, the former, the winter, and the latter rains, and they are often referred to under these names in the Old Testament.
The "former rains" are the showers of October and the first part of November. They soften the parched ground so that the winter grain may be sown before the heavy continuous rains set in. The main bulk of the rain falls in the months of December, January and February. Although in these months the rains are frequent and heavy, a dark, foggy day is seldom seen. The "latter rains" of April are the most highly appreciated, because they ripen the fruit and stay the drought of summer. They were considered a special blessing: Yahweh "will come .... as the latter rain that watereth the earth" (Hos 6:3); "They opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain" (Job 29:23); and as a reason for worshipping Yahweh who sent them, "Let us now fear Yahweh our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in its season" (Jer 5:24).
The rain storms always come from the sea with a west or southwest wind. The east wind is a hot wind and the "north wind driveth away rain" (Prov 25:23, the King James Version). "Fair weather cometh out of the north" (Job 37:22, the King James Version).
5. Biblical Uses:
The Psalmist recognizes that the "showers that water the earth" (Ps 72:6) are among the choicest blessings from the hand of Yahweh: "The early rain covereth it with blessings" (Ps 84:6). The severest punishment of Yahweh was to withhold the rain, as in the time of Ahab and Elijah, when the usual rain did not fall for three years (1 Ki 17); "the anger of Yahweh be kindled against you, and he shut up the heavens, so that there shall be no rain, and the land shall not yield its fruit; and ye perish quickly" (Dt 11:17). Too much rain is also a punishment, as witness the flood (Gen 7:4) and the plague of rain and hail (Ezr 10:9). Sending of rain was a reward for worship and obedience: "Yahweh will open unto thee his good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain of thy land in its season, and to bless all the work of thy hand" (Dt 28:12). Yahweh controls the elements and commands the rain: "He made a decree for the rain" (Job 28:26); "For he saith to the snow, Fall thou on the earth; likewise to the shower of rain" (Job 37:6).
Israel Exploration Fund Quarterly; meteorological observations from the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Jaffa and Tiberias; various observers; Zeitschrift des deutschen Paldstina-Vereins; H. Hilderscheid, Die Niederschlagsverhdltnisse Paldstinas in alter and neuer Zeit; C. R. Conder, Tent-Work in Israel; Edward Hull, Mount Seir, Sinai and Western Israel; Ellsworth Huntington, Israel and Its Transformation; bulletin of the Syrian Protestant College Observatory, Meteorological Observations in Beirut and Syria.
Alfred H. Joy
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'RAINFALL IN JERUSALEM IN INCHES'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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