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to perfect torrents, which sweep everything before them. The effects of these floods are visible in various places by deep gullies and by rocky tracts laid bare. The latter rains usually terminate by or before the vernal equinox.* If rain occurs as late as May, and still more in any of the summer months, it is extraordinary, and wholly out of place, interfering disastrously with the barley and wheat harvests, which are gathered the latter part of May or beginning of June. “As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honor is not seemly for a fool.”—(Prov. i, 26.)
In the fourth place, Palestine is subject to severe winter storms, comprising all the phenomena of the most violent tempests, such as whirlwinds, thunder and lightning, and hail.t During summer, the sky is usually cloudless, and continued drought prevails.
The termination and return of the rainy season are commonly marked by the most surprising changes upon the face of nature. Soon after the latter rains cease, in April or May, the grass withers and the flowers fade; all verdure is changed to a yellowish brown, the streams mostly become dry, birds cease to sing, and all animated nature langnishes. Equally sudden is the effect of the return of the autumnal rain3. The vegetable kingdom instantly awakes from its torpor, the flowers come forth from their hiding places, the birds fill the air with their songs, and all nature rejoices with new life.
Palestine has in all ages been occasionally visited by severe earthquakes. One of great violence occurred in the upper part of the valley of the Jordan, as late as 1837, of which an interesting account is given by the Rev. Dr. Thomson, in his late work, “The Land and the Book.” There are also in several parts of Palestine unquestionable marks of ancient volcanoes, although none have been witnessed in modern times.
It has not, we think, been sufficiently considered, that a very large part of the imagery of the sacred poets of the Hebrews is borrowed from the meteorology of their country. Greece and Italy were severally filled with the types of natural beauty; and their mythology, which peopled every mountain, forest, grotto, lake, river, and fountain, with some divinity, associated additional objects of interest with the natural beauties of their respective countries.
* Robinson, Vol. I, p. 428. † Kitto's Encyc., Art. “Canaan." Also, Robinson, Vol. I, p. 428.
“For here the muse so oft her harp has strung,
And every stream in heavenly numbers flows." But Palestine presented scenery far less picturesque; a great part of the year, indeed, the aspect of nature was desolate and drear, and imparted little inspiration to the lover of the beautiful. The Hebrew poets, it is true, did not fail to recognize the "glory of Lebanon” and the “excellency of Carmel," or the “rose of Sharon ” and the “lily of the valley;" and the royal minstrel exulted in the commanding position of the Holy City : “ Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion.”—(Ps. xlviii, 2.) Nor did the sacred poets fail to make mention, with grateful praise, of their “green pastures and still waters," and of the “springs sent into the valleys to run among the hills;" or to lift their enraptured eyes to the unclouded firmament that displayed to them the glories of the starry heavens in a sky of purest azure. But although the elements of the beautiful in natural scenery were not entirely neglected by the Hebrew poets, yet their imagery was borrowed, to a far greater extent, from the peculiar phenomena of their atmosphere than from the physical features of their country. Indeed, it cannot escape any attentive reader of the Bible, that much of the sublime imagery of the prophets, and other sacred poets, is founded on what was peculiar in the meteorology of the Holy Land. These scenes are repeatedly employed to shadow forth the attributes of the Almighty_his omnipotence, his awful majesty, and his goodness. At one time we meet with allusions to the intense heat, such as prevailed in the valley of the Jordan. Whoever reads the narrative of Lieut. Lynch, as he met the glare of the sun, reflected from the steep and bare mountains of Moab, and concentrated in this deep valley as in the focus of a burning glass, will apprehend more fully than before the force of the language held by the prophet Nahum: “The mountains quake at him ; the hills melt; the earth is burned at his presence.”——(Nah. i, 5.) So also the Psalmist: “The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.”—(Ps. xcvii, 6; Amos ix, 5.) At another time, the power of Jehovah is manifested by the intensity of the cold : “He casteth forth ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold ?”—(Ps. cxlvii, 17.) The storm clouds are often employed to denote the terrible majesty of Jehovah : "Clouds and darkness are round about him.”—(Ps. xcvii.) “The Lord hath his way in the
* Addison's Letter from Italy.
“ whirlwind, and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”—(Nah. i, 3.) A thunder storm, commencing as those of Palestine generally do, over the Mediterranean, and bursting upon the mountains of Lebanon, forms the basis of the sublime imagery of the twenty-ninth Psalm : “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters: the voice of the Lord is powerful: the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” Now the storm has reached the cedars, which the lightnings rend and the winds lay prostratę, or whirl aloft. “ The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them to skip like a calf.” Here the storm leaps over the mountain, and makes its progress towards the southeast to the wilderness of Kadesh : “ The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness: the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.” In the eighteenth Psalm, all the most violent meteorological phenomena, conjoined with the earthquake and the volcano, are employed to furnish images of the presence and majesty of Jehovah coming to judgment. First, the earthquake shadows forth his wrath. “Then the earth shook and trembled: the foundations also of the hills were moved, and were shaken because he was wroth." Next the volcano proclaimed his vengeance on the wicked : “ There went up a
smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his month devoured: coals were kindled by it." Then the storm-clouds betoken his descent from heaven and his immediate presence : “He bowed the Heavens and came down, and darkness was under his feet: And he rode upon a cherub and did fly; yea, he did fly on the wings of the wind : He made darkness his secret place, his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies?” Then the clouds break into thunder, and lightning, and hail: “At the brightness that was before him, his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.” Finally, descend those deluges of rain, which in no part of the earth are more impetuous than in Palestine, swelling the little rivulets into rushing torrents, sweeping all things to destruction, and tearing up the earth from its deep foundations : " Then the channels of waters were seen, and the found. ations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils."*
Not less do meteorological phenomena in their milder forins of dew and rain, enter into the poetical imagery of the Bible; aud there is no other country on the globe where they were so peculiarly symbols of mercy. Of all the forms of watery precipitation, it is a fact well known to physiologists that dew, in proportion to its quantity, is the most favorable to vegetable growth. It was in Palestine especially important and useful, on account of its supplying the lack of rain during the long season of drought. Hence it was a token of God's peculiar favor. Thus, in blessing Jacob, Isaac said : “God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine.”—(Gen. xxvii, 28.) Job, as a mark of his former prosperity, says: “My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch.”—(Job xxix, 19.) So the Psalmist, “ As the dew of Hermon, and the dew that descended on the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”—(Ps. cxxxiii, 3.) Hence, withholding the dew, was a marked token of the divine displeasure, since no summer vegetation could flourish withont it. One of the curses that fell upon the Jews for their dilatoriness in rebuilding the house of the Lord, was that “the heaven over them was staid from the dew,"—(Hag. i, 10,) and in David's lamentation at the fall of Saul and Jonathan, on Mt. Gilboa : “How are the mighty fallen !”—“Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew upon you !"—(22 Sam. i, 21.)
* Lowth thinks this imagery borrowed from the scenes of Mt. Sinai. But only a small part of them were represented there, while they were all such as occurred in Palestine.—(See Lowth, Lectures on Hebrew Poetry, Sub. ix.)
Still more frequent are the scriptural allusions to rain, as the strongest token of God's goodness. It was a feature of high distinction, drawn by Moses himself, of the Promised Land, in comparison with Egypt, that unlike to Egypt, it enjoyed the blessing of rain: “For the land whither thou goest to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt from whence ye came out, but a land of hills and valleys that drink the water of the rain of heaven.”—(Deut. xi, 11.) And the promise in case they should love the Lord their God, and serve him with all their heart, and with all their soul, was that “He would give them the rain in due season, the first rain and the latter rain; and the threatening in case they should turn aside, and serve other gods was, that “ Jehovah would shut up heaven, and there should be no rain.”—(Deut. xi, 17.) In David's
prayer for Solomon, the beneficence of his rule to the poor and oppressed was likened to “rain upon the mown grass,” and to “showers that water the earth.”—(Ps. lxxii, 6.) Finally, it is a signal token of God's impartiality, that “he sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”—(Matt. v, 45.)
Having now taken a survey of the leading facts relating to the meteorology of Palestine, we hasten to assign what appear to us the true causes of these phenomena, so remarkable both for their variety and intensity, as well as for the singular manner in which they were exhibited. Such questions as the following present themselves : Why are some parts of Palestine so hot and others so cold, and others still so temperate ? What is the origin of the sirocco, and why are its effects so baneful to animal and vegetable life? Why is the dew so copious ? Why are the rains periodical and so impetuous ? Why are the