Manners & Customs: Rains
Early and latter rains in the ancient Biblical world
Early and Latter Rains
The Israel grainfields are largely dependent upon the rain that falls, for their fruitfulness. No rain falls in the land from May to September. The former rain, spoken of in scripture, falls in the latter part of October or the first part of November usually. It is this rain that is the signal for the farmer to begin his ploughing and plant his seed.
The Bible also speaks of the latter rain, which ordinarily falls in March and April, and it is this rain that is of so much value in maturing the barley and the wheat crops. The heavy winds come
the latter part of December and during January and February.
The prophecy of Joel mentions all three of these kinds of rain: "And he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month" (Joel 2:23). The word rain here means heavy, gushing rain that falls in winter months, and the rainy season starts with the former rain in the fall, and ends with the latter rain in the spring.
Barley harvest is usually in April and May, and wheat harvest in May and June. Thus we see that Jeremiah was quite correct in his order of seasons in relation to the harvest time, when he said: "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Ploughing After the Rain
Getting ready for ploughing. The farmer gets ready for ploughing after the first rain starts falling, if he has not already done so before. He will spend the time making sure that his plough is in good repair and ready for action. He may need to cut and point a new goad to use in prodding his team of oxen. He must also see to it that his yoke is smooth and fits the necks of the animals. An ill-shaped or heavy yoke would gall them. The LORD JESUS spoke of "the easy yoke" promised to His obedient followers (Matthew 11:30). When the ground has been softened sufficiently by the rain, then the ploughing can begin. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Rain in Easton's Bible Dictionary
There are three Hebrew words used to denote the rains of
different seasons, (1.) Yoreh (Hos. 6:3), or moreh
denoting the former or the early rain. (2.) Melqosh,
rain" (Prov. 16:15). (3.) Geshem, the winter rain,
The heavy winter rain is mentioned in Gen. 7:12;
Cant. 2:11. The "early" or "former" rains commence
in autumn in
the latter part of October or beginning of November
11:14; Joel 2:23; comp. Jer. 3:3), and continue to
for two months. Then the heavy "winter rains" fall
middle of December to March. There is no prolonged
in Israel between October and March. The "latter" or
rains fall in March and April, and serve to swell
the grain then
coming to maturity (Deut. 11:14; Hos. 6:3). After
this there is
ordinarily no rain, the sky being bright and
October or November.
Rain is referred to symbolically in Deut. 32:2; Ps.
44:3, 4; Hos. 10:12.
Rain in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
(See PALESTINE; Climate.) Matar. Geshem, "violent rain" or
generically "the early and latter rain" (Jeremiah 5:24; Joel
2:23). Yoreh, "the early rain of autumn"; malkosh, "the
latter rain of spring" (Proverbs 16:15; Job 29:23; Jeremiah
3:3; Hosea 6:3; Zechariah 10:1). Rebibim, from rab "many,"
from the multitude of drops; "showers" (Deuteronomy 32:2).
Zerem, "violent rain," "hailstorm" (Job 24:8). Sagrir only
in Proverbs 27:15. As compared with Egypt, Israel was a land
of rain (Deuteronomy 11:10-11), but for six months no rain
falls so that "rain in harvest" and "thunder" were marvelous
phenomena, and out of time and place (Proverbs 26:1; 1
Samuel 12:16-18). The early rain begins gradually, the
latter end of October or beginning of November. Generally
from the W. or S.W. (Luke 12:54); the wind then changes to
the N. or E. At no period in the winter, from the end of
October to the end of March, does rain entirely cease. In
January and February snow falls, but lies only a short time.
"The early rain" means the first autumnal showers
which prepare the arid soil for the seed; "the latter rain"
the later spring showers, especially in March, which Bring
forward the crop toward harvest (James 5:7; Proverbs 16:15).
Showers fall occasionally in April and May. God claims as
His peculiar prerogative the sending or withholding of rain,
which He made dependent on the obedience or disobedience of
Israel (Leviticus 26:3-5; Leviticus 26:19; Deuteronomy
11:13-15; Deuteronomy 28:23-24; Jeremiah 3:3; Jeremiah 5:24;
Jeremiah 14:22). "The latter rain in the first (month)" in
Joel 2:23 means in the month when first it is needed; or
else, as Vulgate and Septuagint, "as at the first" (compare
Isaiah 1:26; Hosea 2:15; Malachi 3:4); or in Nisan or Abib,
the Passover month, the first, namely, the end of March and
beginning of April. The departure of winter was marked by
the cessation of rain (Song of Solomon 2:11-13). Rain is the
beautiful image of the Spirit's refreshing influences in
Messiah's kingdom (Hosea 6:3; 2 Samuel 23:4; Psalm 72:6).
Rain in Naves Topical Bible
Forty days of, at the time of the great flood of Noah
-The plague of, upon Egypt
-David delivered by
2Sa 5:17-21; Isa 28:21
-North wind unfavorable to
-Withheld as judgment
De 11:17; 28:24; 1Ki 8:35; 2Ch 7:13; Jer 3:3; Am
-The earth will never again be destroyed by
-Sent by God
De 11:13,14; Job 37:6; Isa 30:23; Jer 5:24; 14:22
-Contingent upon obedience
Le 26:3,4; De 11:13,14
1Ki 8:35,36; 2Ch 6:26,27
-Answer to prayer for, promised
2Ch 7:13,14; Zec 10:1
-Withheld, in answer to prayer
-Rainy season in Palestine is in the ninth month,
Rain in Smiths Bible Dictionary
In the Bible "early rain" signifies the rain of the autumn,
De 11:14 and "latter rain" the rain of spring. Pr 16:1,5 For
six months in the year, from May to October, no rain falls,
the whole land becomes dry, parched and brown. The autumnal
rains are eagerly looked for, to prepare the earth for the
reception of the seed. These, the early rains, commence
about the latter end of October continuing through November
and December. January and February are the coldest months,
and snow falls, sometimes to the depth of a foot or more, at
Jerusalem, but it does not lie long; it is very seldom seen
along the coast and in the low plains. Rain continues to
fall more or less during the month of March it is very rare
in April. Robinson observes that there are not, at the
present day, "any particular periods of rain or succession
of showers which might be regarded as distinct rainy
seasons. The whole period from October to March now
constitutes only one continued season of rain, without any
regularly-intervening term of prolonged fine weather. Unless
therefore, there has been some change in the climate, the
early and the latter rains, for which the husbandman waited
with longing, seem rather to hare implied the first showers
of autumn--which revived the parched and thirsty soil and
prepared it for the seed --and the later showers of spring,
which continued to refresh and forward both the ripening
crops and the vernal products of the fields." Jas 5:7; Pr
Rain in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
ran (maTar, Arabic (?), maTar, "rain" geshem, "heavy rain"
moreh, "early rain," yoreh, "former rain," malqosh, "latter
rain"; brecho, huetos):
1. Water-Supply in Egypt and Israel:
In Egypt there is little or no rainfall, the water for
vegetation being supplied in great abundance by the river
Nile; but in Syria and Israel there are no large rivers, and
the people have to depend entirely on the fall of rain for
water for themselves, their animals and their fields. The
children of Israel when in Egypt were promised by Yahweh a
land which "drinketh water of the rain of heaven" (Dt
11:11). Springs and fountains are found in most of the
valleys, but the flow of the springs depends directly on the
fall of rain or snow in the mountains.
2. Importance of Rain in Season:
The cultivation of the land in Israel is practically dry
farming in most of the districts, but even then some water
is necessary, so that there may be moisture in the soil. In
the summer months there is no rain, so that the rains of the
spring and fall seasons are absolutely essential for
starting and maturing the crops. The lack of this rain in
the proper time has often been the cause of complete failure
of the harvest. A small difference in the amount of these
seasonal rains makes a large difference in the possibility
of growing various crops without irrigation. Ellsworth
Huntington has insisted on this point with great care in his
very important work, Israel and Its Transformation. The
promise of prosperity is given in the assurance of "rain in
due season" (Lev 26:4 the King James Version). The
withholding of rain according to the prophecy of Elijah (1
Ki 17:1) caused the mountain streams to dry up (1 Ki 17:7),
and certain famine ensued. A glimpse of the terrible
suffering for lack of water at that time is given us. The
people were uncertain of another meal (1 Ki 17:12), and the
animals were perishing (1 Ki 18:5).
3. Amount of Rainfall:
Israel and Syria are on the borderland between the sea and
the desert, and besides are so mountainous, that they not
only have a great range of rainfall in different years, but
a great variation in different parts of the country.
The amount of rain on the western slopes is comparable with
that in England and America, varying from 25 to 40 inches
per annum, but it falls mostly in the four winter months,
when the downpour is often very heavy, giving oftentimes
from 12 to 16 inches in a month. On the eastern slopes it is
much less, varying from 8 to 20 inches per annum. The
highest amount falls in the mountains of Lebanon where it
averages about 50 inches. In Beirut the yearly average is
35,87 inches. As we go South from Syria, the amount
decreases (Haifa 27,75, Jaffa 22,39, Gaze 17,61), while in
the Sinaitic Peninsula there is little or none. Going from
West to East the change is much more sudden, owing to the
mountains which stop the clouds. In Damascus the average is
less than 10 inches. In Jerusalem the average for 50 years
is 26,16 in., and the range is from 13,19 in 1870 to 41,62
in 1897. The yearly records as given by J. Glaisher and A.
Datzi in Israel Exploration Fund Quarterly from 1861 to
1910, 50 years, are given in the accompanying table.
Rain Scripture - 1 Kings 8:36
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants,
and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way
wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which
thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
Rain Scripture - 1 Samuel 12:18
So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and
rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and
Rain Scripture - 2 Chronicles 6:27
Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy
servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them
the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy
land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an
Rain Scripture - Deuteronomy 11:17
And [then] the LORD'S wrath be kindled against you, and he
shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land
yield not her fruit; and [lest] ye perish quickly from off the
good land which the LORD giveth you.
Rain Scripture - Deuteronomy 28:12
The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to
give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all
the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations,
and thou shalt not borrow.
Rain Scripture - Ezekiel 1:28
As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day
of rain, so [was] the appearance of the brightness round
about. This [was] the appearance of the likeness of the glory
of the LORD. And when I saw [it], I fell upon my face, and I
heard a voice of one that spake.
Rain Scripture - Ezra 10:9
Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves
together unto Jerusalem within three days. It [was] the ninth
month, on the twentieth [day] of the month; and all the people
sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of
[this] matter, and for the great rain.
Rain Scripture - Genesis 2:5
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and
every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had
not caused it to rain upon the earth, and [there was] not a
man to till the ground.
Rain Scripture - Genesis 7:4
For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth
forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I
have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
Rain Scripture - Psalms 68:9
Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst
confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.
Waiting for Rain Before Ploughing
PRELIMINARY PREPARATION FOR PLANTING THE GRAIN
Waiting for rain before beginning to plough. In Israel, ploughing is done after the early rains have softened the earth (cf. Psalm 65:10). These rains usually come the latter part of October or the first part of November. If they do not come then, the farmer must wait for them before he can plough his ground. Job said, "They waited for me as for the rain" (Job 29:23). Jeremiah described lack of rain thus: "There was no rain in the earth, the ploughmen were ashamed, they covered their heads" (Jeremiah 14:4). Once the rain has come, the industrious farmer will start his ploughing. "The sluggard will not plough by reason of the cold" (Proverbs 20:4). Such a man will retreat into his home and enjoy the warmth of his fire, but he will miss the harvest. Dr. Thomson tells of one year when the farmers waited until the month of February for sufficient rain to enable them to plough the ground for the grain crop. The harvest came late, but was abundant. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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