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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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CLOUD . In Scripture, as with us, the clouds are the visible masses of aqueous vapour, darkening the heavens, sources of rain and fertility, telling the present state of the weather or indicating a coming change. They serve also for figures of instability and transitoriness ( Hosea 6:4 ), calamity ( Lamentations 2:1 ), the gloom of old age ( Ecclesiastes 12:2 ), great height ( Job 20:6 ), immense numbers ( Hebrews 12:1 ). The following points should be noted. 1. The poetic treatment in Job. The waters are bound up securely in the clouds, so that the rain does not break through ( Job 26:8 ); when the ocean issues from chaos like a new-born child, God wraps it in the swaddling-bands of clouds ( Job 38:9 ); the laws of their movements are impenetrable mysteries ( Job 36:29 , Job 37:16 , Job 38:37 ). 2. The cloud indicates the presence of God, and at the same time veils the insufferable brightness of His glory ( Exodus 16:10 ; Exodus 19:9 etc.). Similarly the bright cloud betokens the Father’s presence, and His voice is heard speaking from it ( Matthew 17:5 ). But a dark cloud would effectually hide Him, and thus furnishes a figure for displeasure ( Lamentations 3:44 ). At Revelation 10:1 the cloud is an angel’s glorious robe. 3. The pillar of cloud and fire directs and protects the journeyings of the Exodus ( Exodus 13:21 , Psalms 105:39 ). This corresponds with the fact that armies and caravans have frequently been directed by signals of fire and smoke. 4. The cloud alternates with the cherub as Jahweh’s chariot ( Psalms 18:10 , Isaiah 19:1 ). Indeed, the cherub is a personification of the thunder-cloud. The Messianic people and the Messiah Himself sweep through the heaven with clouds ( Daniel 7:13 , Mark 14:62 , Revelation 1:7 ), or on the clouds ( Matthew 26:64 ): hence the later Jews identified Anani (= ‘He of the clouds,’ 1 Chronicles 3:24 ) with the Messiah. The saints are to be caught up in the clouds ( 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ). The Messiah’s throne is a white cloud ( Revelation 14:14 ). 5. In the ‘Cloud Vision’ of Apoc. [Note: Apocalypse, Apocalyptic.] Bar 53 73, the cloud from which the twelve streams of water pour is ‘the wide world which the Almighty created’ a very peculiar piece of imagery.

J. Taylor.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Cloud'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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Sunday, January 19th, 2020
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