International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Unequal distribution of heat in the atmosphere causes currents of air or wind. The heated air rises and the air from around rushes in. The direction from which a current comes determines its name, as west wind coming from the West but blowing toward the East. When two currents of air of different directions meet, a spiral motion sometimes results.
2. West Wind:
In Palestine the west wind is the most common. It comes from the sea and carries the moisture which condenses to form clouds, as it is turned upward by the mountains, to the cooler layers of the atmosphere. If the temperature reached is cool enough the cloud condenses and rain falls. Elijah looked toward the West for the "small cloud," and soon "the heavens grew black with clouds and wind" (1 Kings 18:44 f). "When ye see a cloud rising in the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it cometh to pass" (Luke 12:54).
3. South Wind:
The south wind is frequent in Palestine. If it is slightly Southwest, it may bring rain, but if it is due South or Southeast, there is no rain. It is a warm wind bringing good weather. "When ye see a south wind blowing, ye say, There will be a scorching heat; and it cometh to pass" (Luke 12:55). In the cooler months it is a gentle, balmy wind, so that the "earth is still by reason of the south wind" (Job 37:17; compare Songs 4:16).
4. North Wind:
The north wind is usually a strong, continuous wind blowing down from the northern hills, and while it is cool it always "drives away rain," as correctly stated in Proverbs 25:23, the King James Version; yet it is a disagreeable wind, and often causes headache and fever. 5. East Wind:
The east wind or sirocco (from Arabic shark= "east") is the "scorching wind" (James 1:11) from the desert. It is a hot, gusty wind laden with sand and dust and occurs most frequently in May and October. The temperature in a given place often rises 15 or 20 degrees within a few hours, bringing thermometer to the highest readings of the year. It is customary for the people to close up the houses tightly to keep out the dust and heat. The heat and dryness wither all vegetation (Genesis 41:6). Happily the wind seldom lasts for more than three days at a time. It is the destructive "wind of the wilderness" (Job 1:19 Jeremiah 4:11; Jeremiah 13:24): "Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night" (Exodus 14:21) for the children of Israel to pass; the "rough blast in the day of the east wind" (Isaiah 27:8). The strength of the wind makes it dangerous for ships at sea: "With the east wind thou breakest the ships of Tarshish" (Psalm 48:7). Euraquilo or Euroclydon (Acts 27:14 the King James Version), which caused Paul's shipwreck, was an East-Northeast wind, which was especially dangerous in that region.
6. Practical Use:
The wind is directly of great use to the farmer in Palestine in winnowing the grain after it is threshed by treading out (Psalm 1:4; Psalm 35:5 Isaiah 17:13). It was used as a sign of the weather (Ecclesiastes 11:4). It was a necessity for traveling on the sea in ancient times (Acts 28:13 James 3:4), but too strong a wind caused shipwreck (Jonah 1:4 Matthew 8:24 Luke 8:23).
7. Scripture References:
The Scriptural references to wind show many illustrative and figurative uses:
(1) Power of God (1 Kings 19:11 Job 27:21; Job 38:24 Psalm 107:25; Psalm 135:7; 147:18:00; 148:8 Proverbs 30:4 Jeremiah 10:13 Hosea 4:19 Luke 8:25): "He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens; and by his power he guided the south wind" (Psalm 78:26).
(2) Scattering and destruction: "A stormy wind shall rend it" (Ezekiel 13:11; compare 5:2; 12:14; 17:21; Hosea 4:19; Hosea 8:7 Jeremiah 49:36 Matthew 7:25).
(3) Uncertainty: "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14; compare Proverbs 27:16 Ecclesiastes 1:6 John 3:8 James 1:6).
(4) Various directions: "toward the four winds of heaven" (Daniel 11:4; compare 8:8; Zechariah 2:6 Matthew 24:31 Mark 13:27).
(5) Brevity: "a wind that passeth away" (Psalm 78:39; compare 1:4; 35:05:00; 103:16).
(6) Nothingness: "Molten images are wind" (Isaiah 41:29; compare Jeremiah 5:13).
Alfred H. Joy