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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Cloud

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a collection of vapours suspended in the atmosphere. When the Israelites had left Egypt, God gave them a pillar of cloud to direct their march, Exodus 13:21-22 . According to Jerom, in his Epistle to Fabiola, this cloud attended them from Succoth; or, according to others, from Rameses; or, as the Hebrews say, only from Ethan, till the death of Aaron; or, as the generality of commentators are of opinion, to the passage of Jordan. This pillar was commonly in front of the Israelites; but at Pihahiroth, when the Egyptian army approached behind them, it placed itself between Israel and the Egyptians, so that the Egyptians could not come near the Israelites all night, Exodus 14:19-20 . In the morning, the cloud moving on over the sea, and following the Israelites who had passed through it, the Egyptians pressing after were drowned. From that time, this cloud attended the Israelites; it was clear and bright during night, in order to afford them light; but in the day it was thick and gloomy, to defend them from the excessive heats of the deserts. "The angel of God which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them,"

Exodus 14:19 . Here we may observe, that the angel and the cloud made the same motion, as it would seem, in company. The cloud by its motions gave the signal to the Israelites to encamp or to decamp. Where, therefore, it stayed, the people stayed till it rose again; then they broke up their camp, and followed it till it stopped. It was called a pillar, by reason of its form, which was high and elevated. Some interpreters suppose that there were two clouds, one to enlighten, the other to shade, the camp. The Lord appeared at Sinai in the midst of a cloud, Exodus 19:9 ; Exodus 24:5 ; and after Moses had built and consecrated the tabernacle, the cloud filled the court around it, so that neither Moses nor the priests could enter, Exodus 40:34-35 . The same happened at the dedication of the temple of Jerusalem by Solomon, 2 Chronicles 5:13 ; 1 Kings 8:10 . When the cloud appeared upon the tent, in front of which were held the assemblies of the people in the desert, it was then indicated that God was present; for the tent was a sign of God's presence. The angel descended in the cloud, and thence spoke to Moses, without being seen by the people, Exodus 16:10 ; Numbers 11:25 ; Numbers 16:5 . It is common in Scripture, when mentioning God's appearing, to represent him as encompassed with clouds, which serve as a chariot, and contribute to veil his dreadful majesty, Job 22:14 ; Isaiah 19:1 ; Matthew 17:5 ; Matthew 24:30 , &c; Psalms 18:11-12 ; Psalms 97:2 ; Psalms 104:3 . Cloud is also used for morning mists: "Your goodness is as a morning cloud; and as the early dew it goeth away," Hosea 6:4 ; Hosea 13:3 . Job, speaking of the chaos, says, that God had confined the sea or the water, as it were with a cloud, and covered it with darkness, as a child is wrapped in its blankets. The author of Sir_24:6 , used the same expression. The Son of God, at his second advent, is described as descending upon clouds, Matthew 24:30 ; Luke 11:27 ; Revelation 14:14-16 .


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Cloud'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/c/cloud.html. 1831-2.

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