FROST (Heb. kephōr, hănāmāl). Usual in winter on the hills and high plains in Bible lands. Frosts in the late spring do great damage to fruit. The manna in the wilderness is compared to frost (Exod.16.14). Frost is an evidence of God’s power (Job.38.29).
, two Heb. words are so tr. 1. קֶ֫רַח
, which means both “snow” (possibly “ice”) as in Psalm 147:17
; and “frost” as in Genesis 31:40
, KJV, et al. It is used as a sign of God’s power and sovereignty over nature.
2. חֲנָמַֽל, a hapax legomenon in Psalm 78:47; some other VSS read “great hail stones.” The parallelism is difficult and no known etymology exists except for a variety of folk etymologies selected from the Arab. lexica. The climate of Pal. is widely divergent from the hills around the Sea of Galilee to the desert of the southern Sinai. Although snow is rare and scattered it does fall in the higher elevations. Frost will develop rapidly from the drop of temperature caused by the convection currents over the desert. Violent falls of hail stones, swirling snow showers and frozen dew all are features of the variable climate.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(kephor, "hoar-frost," Ex 16:14; Job 38:29; chanamal, perhaps "the aphis," Ps 78:47; qerach, "cold," Ge 31:40; Job 37:10 the King James Version; Jer 36:30):
A temperature of freezing or lower is called frost. Dew forms when the temperature is decreased; and if below freezing, the dew takes the form of a white film or covering over rocks and leaves. This white covering is called hoar-frost. Like dew it is the result of condensation of the moisture of the air on objects which radiate their heat quickly. In order that condensation may take place the atmosphere must be saturated. Frost may be expected on clear, still nights when the radiation is sufficient to reduce the temperature below the freezing-point.
In Syria and Palestine frost is a very rare occurrence at sea-level; but on the hills and elevated plains it is usual in winter, beginning with November, and on the highest elevations throughout the year. Late spring frosts in March or early April do great damage to fruit.
2. In Syria and Palestine:
In clear weather there is often a great variation in the temperature of the day and the night, especially on the inland plains, so that literally, as Jacob said to Laban, "In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night" (Ge 31:40); "In the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost" (Jer 36:30; compare Jer 22:19), a passage which suggests that Jehoiakim’s corpse was left unburied.
3. In Egypt:
The meaning of chanamal, translated "frost" in Ps 78:47 (see above), "He destroyed .... their sycomore-trees with frost" (m "great hail stones"), is uncertain. "Frost is unknown in Egypt, and Gesenius suggests `ants,’ comparing it with Arabic namal" (Temple, BD, S.V.).
4. Figurative Uses:
The manna in the wilderness is compared to hoarfrost. "A small round thing, small as the hoarfrost" (Ex 16:14). Manna is occasionally found in Syria now as a flaky, gelatinous substance formed on bushes and rocks. The elements of Nature are indications of God’s power, and are referred to as signs of His might: "By the breath of God frost is given" (Job 37:10 the King James Version). "The hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?" (Job 38:29); "He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore-trees with frost" (Ps 78:47); "He scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes" (Ps 147:16).
Alfred H. Joy