HAIL. 1. Hailstorms sometimes take place in the Near East in the spring and summer and do considerable damage to crops, sometimes even injuring property and endangering life. Plagues of hail are mentioned in Exod.9.23-Exod.9.24 and Josh.10.11. The prophets speak of hail as a means of punishing the wicked (Isa.28.2; Ezek.38.22; Rev.8.7; Rev.11.19).
2. An interjection found only in the Gospels (Matt.27.29; Mark.15.18; John.19.3) as a translation of chairē, used as a greeting or salutation. A similar greeting is still to be heard in modern Greece.
HAIL, HAILSTONES (בָּרָד, H1352; χάλαζα, G5898). Hail is frozen raindrops, though hailstones are often much larger than any single raindrop, sometimes reaching three or four inches in diameter and a pound or more in weight. It usually falls in the spring or summer during severe thunder storms, when raindrops are carried upward by rising air currents and freeze in the cooling air. When the hailstones fall, they often cohere, forming solid masses, which can do great damage to crops and even endanger life.
Hailstones are not common in Pal. but they are not unusual and can be very severe. Occasionally they take place in Egypt. Hail is often mentioned in the Bible, and always as an instrument of God’s judgment. A severe hail was the seventh plague in Egypt (Exod 9:13-34). It prob. took place at the beginning of February, when the flax was in bloom and the barley in the ear (v. 31). Wheat, which does not ripen until about a month later, escaped (v. 32), to become later the prey of the locusts (Exod 10:12-15). The Amorites were smitten by hailstones at Beth-horon, so that more died from the hailstones than were smitten with the sword by the Israelites (Josh 10:11).
D. Baly, The Geography of the Bible (1957).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
1. Its Occurrence:
Hail usually falls in the spring or summer during severe thunder storms. Hailstones are made up of alternate layers of ice and snow, and sometimes reach considerable size, causing great damage by their fall. Upward currents of air carry up raindrops already formed to the colder regions above, where they freeze, and as they again pass through layers of cloud, their bulk increases until, too heavy to be carried by the current, they fall to the ground. Hailstorms, like thunder storms, occur in narrow belts a few miles in breadth and are of short duration. Almost without exception they occur in the daytime. If they take place before the time of harvest they do great damage to grain and fruit, and in extreme cases have injured property and endangered life.
2. In Syria:
Hailstorms, while by no means common in Syria and Palestine, are not unusual and are of great severity. They occasionally take place in Egypt. Within a few years hailstones of unusual size fell in Port Said, breaking thousands of windows.
3. Biblical Instances:
(1) The plague of hail (Ex 9:23-24; Ps 78:47), which was a local storm, as they usually are, falling on the Egyptians and not striking the children of Israel in Goshen. It was of great severity. "There was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation" (Ex 9:24). It took place in January, for the barley "was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom" (Ex 9:31), and caused great damage.
(2) After the battle with the Amorites at Gibeon, "Yahweh cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more who died with the hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword" (Jos 10:11).
4. As Punishment:
5. God’s Power:
Yahweh’s power and wisdom are shown in controlling the hail: "Hast thou seen the treasuries of the hail?" (Job 38:22); "Fire and hail, snow and vapor .... fulfilling his word" (Ps 148:8).
Alfred H. Joy
hal: Interjection, found only in the Gospels as the translation of chaire, chairete, imp. of chairo, "to rejoice," is used as a greeting or salutation. The word "Hail" is Old English and was formerly an adjective, used with the verb to be, meaning "well," "sound," "hale," e.g. "Hale be thou." Wycliff has "heil" without the verb, followed by other English VSS, except that the Geneva has "God save thee," in Mt 26:49; 28:9. The word occurs in Mt 26:49; 27:29; 28:9, "all hail"; Mr 15:18; Lu 1:28; Joh 19:3.