Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
is the rendering which the A.V. gives in Job 37:9, for the Hebrew nezarim', מְזָרַים; properly, as the margin reads, scattering winds, i.e. winds which scatter the clouds, and bring clear, cold weather. (The Sept. has ἀκρωτήρια, the Vulg. arcturus.) But Aben-Ezra and Michaelis understand Mezarim to mean a constellation, and the same as Mazzaroth (q.v.).
The Hebrews considered the cardinal points of the heavens in reference to a man whose face was turned towards the east, the north was consequently on his left hand (Genesis 13:14; Joshua 15:10; Judges 21:19; Jeremiah 1:13); hence "the left hand" designates the north (Genesis 14:15; Job 23:9). They also regarded what lay to the north as higher, and what lay to the south as lower; hence they who traveled from south to north were said to "go up" (Genesis 45:25; Hosea 8:9; Acts 18:3; Acts 19:1), while they who went from north to south were said to "go down" (Genesis 12:10; Genesis 26:2; Genesis 38:1; 1 Samuel 30:15-16; 1 Samuel 25:1; 1 Samuel 26:2).
Elsewhere, the word north in our version stands for the Hebrew tsaphon',
צָפוֹן, which is used in several senses:
1. It denotes a particular quarter of the heavens; thus, "Fair weather cometh out of the north" (Job 37:22); literally, "gold cometh," which our version, with the best critical authorities, understands figuratively, as meaning the golden splendor (of the firmament, i.e. "fair weather") (comp. Zechariah 4:12, "goldcolored oil"). The Sept. gives "the cloud having the lustre of gold," which perhaps corresponds with the χρυσωπὸς αἰθήρ , the gilded mether, or sky, of an old Greek tragedian, quoted by Grotius. The same Hebrew word is used poetically for the whole heaven in the following passage: "He stretcheth out the north (literally the concealed, dark place) (like ὑπὸ ζόφον, in Homer, Odys. 3:335; πρὸς ζόφον, Pindar, Nemae. 4:112) over the empty place" (Job 26:7; Sept. ἐπ᾿ οὐδέν ). Hence the meaning probably is that the north wind clears the sky of clouds; which agrees with the fact in Palestine, to which Solomon thus alludes, "The north wind driveth away rain" (Proverbs 25:23). Homer styles it αἰθρηγενέτης, "producing clear weather" (Il. 15:171; Od. v. 296). Josephus calls it αἰθριώτατος, "that wind which most produces clear weather" (Ant. 15:9, 6); and Hesychius, ἐπιδέξιος, or "auspicious;" and see the remarkable rendering of the Sept. in Proverbs 27:16. The word occurs also in the same sense in the following passages: "The wind turneth about to the north" (Ecclesiastes 1:6); "A whirlwind out of the north" (Ezekiel 1:4).
2. It means a quarter of the earth (Psalms 107:3; Isaiah 43:6; Ezekiel 20:47; Ezekiel 32:1;. comp. Luke 13:29).
3. It occurs in the sense of a northern aspect or direction, etc.; thus, "looking north" (1 Kings 7:25; 1 Chronicles 9:24; Numbers 34:7); on "the north side" (Psalms 48:2; Ezekiel 8:14; Ezekiel 40:44; comp. Revelation 21:13).
4. It is used as the conventional name for certain countries, irrespectively of their true geographical situation, viz. Babylonia, Chaldaea, Assyria, and Media, which are constantly represented as being to the north of Judaea, though some of them lay rather to the east of Palestine. Thus Assyria is called the north (Zephaniah 2:13), and Babylonia (Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 46:6; Jeremiah 46:10; Jeremiah 46:20; Jeremiah 46:24; Ezekiel 26:7; Judith 16:4). The origin of this use of the word is supposed to be found in the fact that the kings of most of these countries, avoiding the deserts, used to invade Judaea chiefly on the north side, by way of Damascus and Syria. Thus also the kings of the north that were "near" may mean the kings of Syria, and "those that are afar off" the Hyrcanians and Bactrians, etc., who are reckoned by Xenophon among the peoples that were subjected or oppressed by the king of Babylon, and perhaps others besides of the neighboring nations that were compelled to submit to the Babylonian yoke (Jeremiah 25:26). By "the princes of the north" (Ezekiel 32:30) some understand the Tyrians and their allies (Ezekiel 26:16), joined here with the Zidonians, their neighbors. "The families of the north" (Jeremiah 1:15) are inferior kings, who were allies or tributaries to the Babylonian empire (Jeremiah 34:1; Jeremiah 1, 41; Jeremiah 2:27). "The families of the north" (Jeremiah 25:9) may mean a still inferior class of people, or nations dependent on Babylon. But the "king of the north" is the king of Syria; opposed to the king of the south, i.e. Egypt (Daniel 11:6-15; Daniel 11:40). 5. The Hebrew word is applied to the north wind. In Proverbs 27:16, the impossibility of concealing the qualities of a contentious wife is compared to an attempt to bind the north wind. The invocation of Solomon (Song of Solomon 4:16), "Awake, oh north, and come, thou south, blow upon my garden that the spices may flow out," and which has occasioned much perplexity to illustrators, seems well explained by Rosenmü ller, as simply alluding to the effect of winds from opposite quarters in dispersing the fragrance of aromatic shrubs (Song of Solomon 4:13-14) far and wide in all directions. A fine description of the effects of the north wind, in winter, occurs in Sirach 43:20, which truly agrees with the "horrifer Boreas" of Ovid (Met. 1:65), and in which reference is made to the coincident effects of the north wind and of fire (v. 21; comp. v. 3, 4), like the "Borese penetrabile frigus adurit" of Virgil (Georg. 1:93); or Milton's description,
—— "The parching air Burns fierce, and cold performs the effects of fire." Paradise Lost, 2:595.
Josephus states that the north wind in the neighbori hood of Joppa was called by those who sailed there Μελαμβόρειος, "the black north wind," and certainly his description of its effects, on one occasion, off that coast is appalling (War, 3:9, 3). (See NOTUS).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'North'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/north.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.