He gives snow like wool: he scatters the hoarfrost like ashes.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Like wool.—Both in whiteness and fleecy texture. “The snow falls in large flakes, equal in size to a walnut, and has more resemblance to locks of wool than it has in our country” (Niven, Biblical Antiq., p. 21).
“A spice quam densum tacitarum vellus aquarum Defluat.
MART., Ep. iv. 3.Psalm 147:16-18. He giveth snow like wool — Not only in colour, and shape, and softness, and its falling silently like a lock of wool; but in its covering the earth and keeping it warm, and so promoting its fruitfulness. He scattereth the hoar-frost — Which is dew congealed, as the snow and hail are rain congealed; like ashes — Which it resembles in colour and smallness of parts, and has the appearance of ashes scattered upon the grass. Sometimes also it is prejudicial to the products of the earth, and blasts them, as if it were hot ashes. He casteth forth his ice — Great hailstones, which are of an icy nature, and which are very properly said to be cast forth, or cast down, out of the clouds, and that like morsels or fragments, the particles being congealed in them. Who can stand before his cold? — The cold which he sometimes sends into the air is so sharp and piercing that it would be intolerable if men did not defend themselves from it by houses, clothes, furs, fires, &c. He sendeth out his word and melteth them — To prevent the hurt that might ensue by the continuance of the snow, frost, and cold, he issues forth another command, which as suddenly (see Psalm 147:15) makes a thaw. He causeth his wind to blow — The southern, or some other warm wind, sent with commission to dissolve the frost and melt the snow; and the waters flow — The waters, which were bound up, are loosened, and made to flow again, and the rivers return to their wonted course. Job 37:6 : "For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth."Snow like wool; not only in colour, and shape, and softness, but also in use, keeping the fruits of the earth warm.
Hoar-frost like ashes; in colour and smallness of parts, as also in its burning quality. Job 37:6. The Jews have a saying, as Arama observes, that one day of snow is better than five of rain. In the third year of Valens and Valentinianus, with the Atrebates (a people in the Netherlands), real wool fell from the clouds, mixed with rain (y). Several blessings of grace are signified by this figure; as pardon of sin, the justifying righteousness of Christ, and the efficacy of the word of God, Psalm 51:7;
he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes; which is the dew congealed by the intense cold of the air in the night season (z): this for its colour looks like ashes, and for its infinite number of particles may be compared to them; which are spread here and there, and everywhere; over gardens, fields, lands, herbs, plants, and trees, as if they were strewed with ashes. And to hot ashes it may be compared, because of its burning nature, shrivelling up leaves, herbs, and plants, as if burnt; hence called "pruina" in the Latin tongue (a). The manna is compared to this for its smallness, Exodus 16:14; which was typical of Christ, the hidden manna, and of the ministry of the Gospel; little, mean, and contemptible, in the eyes of carnal men; torturing and tormenting to them, as the fire that came out of the mouths of the witnesses; and is the savour of death unto death to some, while it ii the savour of life unto life to others.
(t) Eustathius in Dionys. Perieget. p. 91. (u) Epigram. l. 4. Ephesians 3. (w) Aristoph. Nubes, p. 146. (x) Nat. Hist. l. 17. c. 2.((y) Orosii Hist. l. 7. c. 32. p. 131. (z) lsidor. Origin. l. 13. c. 10. (a) "Frigora nec tantum cana concreta pruina", Virgil. Georgic. l. 2. v. 376.He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)16. “Snow must always have been rare in Central and Southern Palestine,” and “frost is very rare at Jerusalem.” Tristram, Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 28. They would therefore be more striking phenomena than they are to us; and it has been plausibly suggested that the Psalm was composed in or after an exceptionally severe winter.Verse 16. - He giveth snow like wool. The loveliness of new-fallen snow has evidently been felt by the psalmist, to whom it has seemed like a spotless robe of whitest wool spread upon the earth. Snow, though rare in Palestine, does occasionally fall, and is said to "cover the streets of Jerusalem two winters out of three. It generally comes in small quantities; but there are sometimes very snowy winters." In 1879, for instance, snow lay in Jerusalem to a depth of seventeen inches (Geikic, 'The Holy Land and the Bible,' vol. 2. p. 58). He scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes. The metaphor is less appropriate, and was selected, probably, on account of the near resemblance of the two words, kephor and kaepher. Psalm 147:7 the song takes a new flight. ענה ל signifies to strike up or sing in honour of any one, Numbers 21:27; Isaiah 27:2. The object of the action is conceived of in בּתּודה as the medium of it (cf. e.g., Job 16:4). The participles in Psalm 147:8. are attributive clauses that are attached in a free manner to לאלהינוּ. הכין signifies to prepare, procure, as e.g., in Job 38:41 - a passage which the psalmist has had in his mind in connection with Psalm 147:9. מצמיח, as being the causative of a verb. crescendi, is construed with a double accusative: "making mountains (whither human agriculture does not reach) to bring forth grass;" and the advance to the thought that God gives to the cattle the bread that they need is occasioned by the "He causeth grass to grow for the cattle" of the model passage Psalm 104:14, just as the only hinting אשׁר יקראוּ, which is said of the young of the raven (which are forsaken and cast off by their mothers very early), is explained from ילדיו אל־אל ישׁוּעוּ in Job loc. cit. The verb קרא brev ehT .tic .col boJ ni , κράζειν (cf. κρώζειν), is still more expressive for the cry of the raven, κόραξ, Sanscrit kârava, than that שׁוּע; κοράττειν and κορακεύεσθαι signify directly to implore incessantly, without taking any refusal. Towards Him, the gracious Sustainer of all beings, are the ravens croaking for their food pointed (cf. Luke 12:24, "Consider the ravens"), just like the earth that thirsts for rain. He is the all-conditioning One. Man, who is able to know that which the irrational creature unconsciously acknowledges, is in the feeling of his dependence to trust in Him and not in himself. In all those things to which the God-estranged self-confidence of man so readily clings, God has no delight (יחפּץ, pausal form like יחבּשׁ) and no pleasure, neither in the strength of the horse, whose rider imagines himself invincible, and, if he is obliged to flee, that he cannot be overtaken, nor in the legs of a man, upon which he imagines himself so firm that he cannot be thrown down, and which, when he is pursued, will presumptively carry him far enough away into safety. שׁוק, Arab. sâq, is the leg from the knee to the foot, from Arab. sâqa, root sq, to drive, urge forward, more particularly to urge on to a gallop (like curs, according to Pott, from the root car, to go). What is meant here is, not that the strength of the horse and muscular power are of no avail when God wills to destroy a man (Psalm 33:16., Amos 2:14.), but only that God has no pleasure in the warrior's horse and in athletic strength. Those who fear Him, i.e., with a knowledge of the impotency of all power possessed by the creature in itself, and in humble trust feel themselves dependent upon His omnipotence - these are they in whom He takes pleasure (רצה with the accusative), those who, renouncing all carnal defiance and self-confident self-working, hope in His mercy.
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