Psalm 147:16
He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) 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.

147:12-20 The church, like Jerusalem of old, built up and preserved by the wisdom, power, and goodness of God, is exhorted to praise him for all the benefits and blessings vouchsafed to her; and these are represented by his favours in the course of nature. The thawing word may represent the gospel of Christ, and the thawing wind the Spirit of Christ; for the Spirit is compared to the wind, Joh 3:8. Converting grace softens the heart that was hard frozen, and melts it into tears of repentance, and makes good reflections to flow, which before were chilled and stopped up. The change which the thaw makes is very evident, yet how it is done no one can say. Such is the change wrought in the conversion of a soul, when God's word and Spirit are sent to melt it and restore it to itself.He giveth snow like wool - He covers the earth with snow, so that it seems to have a clothing of wool. Compare the notes at Job 37:6 : "For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth."

He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes - As if ashes were strewed over the earth; or, as easily as one strews ashes.

15-18. God's Word, as a swift messenger, executes His purpose, for with Him to command is to perform (Ge 1:3; Ps 33:9), and He brings about the wonders of providence as easily as men cast crumbs. 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.

He giveth snow like wool,.... For colour as white as wool; so the Targum and Kimchi: and for the manner of its falling, lightly and gently as a lock of wool; which for its thinness and fineness it also resembles. Hence the ancients used to call snow , "woolly water" (t); and Martial (u) gives it the name of "densum veilus aquarum", "a thick fleece of waters": so another poet (w) calls clouds flying fleeces of wool, to which they sometimes seem like; Pliny (x) calls it the from of the celestial waters. And it is like wool for its usefulness to the earth; for as wool covers the sheep, and clothes made of it cover men, and keep them warm; so snow filling upon the earth covers it and keeps it warm, and secures the wheat and other fruits of the earth from the injuries of the cold: and this lies among the treasures of the Lord, and he brings it out from thence, and commands it to be on the earth; and it is an useful gift of his providence, for which his name is to be praised; see 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 147:16In the lxx this strophe is a Psalm (Lauda Jerusalem) of itself. The call goes forth to the church again on the soil of the land of promise assembled round about Jerusalem. The holy city has again risen out of its ruins; it now once more has gates which can stand open in the broad daylight, and can be closed and bolted when the darkness comes on for the security of the municipality that is only just growing into power (Nehemiah 7:1-4). The blessing of God again rests upon the children of the sacred metropolis. Its territory, which has experienced all the sufferings of war, and formerly resounded with the tumult of arms and cries of woe and destruction, God has now, from being an arena of conflict, made into peace (the accusative of the effect, and therefore different from Isaiah 60:17); and since the land can now again be cultivated in peace, the ancient promise (Psalm 81:17) is fulfilled, that God would feed His people, if they would only obey Him, with the fat of wheat. The God of Israel is the almighty Governor of nature. It is He who sends His fiat (אמרתו after the manner of the ויּאמר of the history of creation, cf. Psalm 33:9) earthwards (ארץ, the accusative of the direction). The word is His messenger (vid., on Psalm 107:20), עד־מהרה, i.e., it runs as swiftly as possible, viz., in order to execute the errand on which it is sent. He it is who sends down snow-flakes like flocks of wool, so that the fields are covered with snow as with a white-woollen warming covering.

(Note: Bochart in his Hierozoicon on this passage compares an observation of Eustathius on Dionysius Periegetes: τὴν χιόνα ἐριῶδες ὕδωρ ἀστείως οἱ παλαιοὶ ἐκάλουν.)

He scatters hoar-frost (כּפור from כּפר, to cover over with the fine frozen dew or mist as though they were powdered with ashes that the wind had blown about. Another time He casts His ice

(Note: lxx (Italic, Vulgate) κρύσταλλον, i.e., ice, from the root κρυ, to freeze, to congeal (Jerome glaciem). Quid est crystallum? asks Augustine, and replies: Nix est glacie durata per multos annos ita ut a sole vel igne acile dissolvi non possit.)

(קרחו from קרח; or according to another reading, קרחו from קרח) down like morsels, fragments, כפתּים, viz., as hail-stones, or as sleet. The question: before His cold - who can stand? is formed as in Nahum 1:6, cf. Psalm 130:3. It further comes to pass that God sends forth His word and causes them (snow, hoar-frost, and ice) to melt away: He makes His thawing wind blow, waters flow; i.e., as soon as the one comes about, the other also takes place forthwith. This God now, who rules all things by His word and moulds all things according to His will, is the God of the revelation pertaining to the history of salvation, which is come to Israel, and as the bearer of which Israel takes the place of honour among the nations, Deuteronomy 4:7., 32-34. Since the poet says מגּיד and not הגּיד, he is thinking not only of the Tra, but also of prophecy as the continuous self-attestation of God, the Lawgiver. The Ker דּבריו, occasioned by the plurals of the parallel member of the verse, gives an unlimited indistinct idea. We must keep to דברו, with the lxx, Aquila, Theodotion, the Quinta, Sexta, and Jerome. The word, which is the medium of God's cosmical rule, is gone forth as a word of salvation to Israel, and, unfolding itself in statutes and judgments, has raised Israel to a legal state founded upon a positive divine law or judgment such as no Gentile nation possesses. The Hallelujah does not exult over the fact that these other nations are not acquainted with any such positive divine law, but (cf. Deuteronomy 4:7., Baruch 4:4) over the fact that Israel is put into possession of such a law. It is frequently attested elsewhere that this possession of Israel is only meant to be a means of making salvation a common property of the world at large.

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