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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Hail (2)

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(בָּרָד, barard', χάλαζα), or congealed rain, is the symbol of the divine vengeance upon kingdoms and nations, the enemies of God and of his people. As a hailstorm is generally accompanied by lightning, and seems to be produced by a certain electrical state of the atmosphere, so we find in Scripture hail and fire, i.e. lightning, mentioned together (Exodus 9:23; compare Job 38:22-23; Psalms 105:32; Psalms 78:48; Psalms 148:8; Psalms 18:13). (See PLAGUES OF EGYPT). That hail, though uncommon, is not absolutely unknown in Egypt, we have the testimony of Mansleben and Manconys, who had heard it thunder during their stay at Alexandria, the former on the 1st of January, and the latter on the 17th and 18th of the same month; on the same day it also hailed there. Perry also remarks that it hails, though seldom, in January and February at Cairo. Pococke even saw hail mingled with rain fall at Fium in February (compare Exodus 9:34). Korte also saw hail fall. Jomard says, "I have several times seen even hail at Alexandria." Volney mentions a hail-storm which he saw crossing over Mount Sinai into that country, some of whose frozen stones he gathered; "and so," he says, "I drank iced water in Egypt." Hail was also the means made use of by God for defeating an army of the kings of Canaan (Joshua 10:11).

In this passage it is said, "The Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them" i.e. hailstones of an extraordinary size, and capable of doing dreadful execution in their fall from heaven. Some commentators are of opinion that the miracle consisted of real stones, from the circumstance that stones only are mentioned in the preceding clause; but this is evidently erroneous, for there are many instances on record of hail-stones of enormous size and weight falling in different countries, so as to do immense injury, and to destroy the lives of animals and men. In Palestine and the neighboring regions, hailstones are frequent and severe in the mountainous districts and along the coasts; but in the plains and deserts hail scarcely ever falls. In the elevated region of Northern Persia the hailstones are frequently so violent as to destroy the cattle in the fields; and in Comm. Porter's Letters from Constantinople and its Environs (1, 44) there is an interesting account of a terrific hailstorm that occurred on the Bosphorus in the summer of 1831, which fully bears out the above and other Scripture representations. Many of the lumps picked up after the storm weighed three quarters of a pound. In Isaiah 28:2, which, denounces the approaching destruction by Shalmaneser, the same images are employed. Hail is mentioned as a divine judgment by the prophet Haggai (Haggai 2:17). The destruction of the Assyrian army is pointed out in Isaiah 30:30. Ezekiel 13:11 represents the wall daubed with untempered mortar as being destroyed by great hailstones. Also in his prophecy against Gog (Ezekiel 38:22) he employs the same symbol (compare Revelation 20:9). The hail and fire mingled with blood, mentioned in Revelation 8:7, are supposed to denote the commotions of nations. The great hail, in Revelation 11:19, denotes great and heavy judgments on the enemies of true religion; and the grievous storm, in 16:21, represents something similar, and far more severe. So Horace (Odes, 1. 2); comp. Virgil (En. 4:120, 161; 9:669) and Livy (2, 62, and 26, 11).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Hail (2)'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/h/hail-2.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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