Hail, Hailstones

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).

The Scriptures often speak of hail as a means of punishing the wicked (Isa 28:2, 17) and as a symbol of God’s anger (Ezek 38:22; Hag 2:17; Rev 8:7; 11:19; 16:21). See Palestine, V; Climate.

Bibliography D. Baly, The Geography of the Bible (1957).