1. Dreaded in Palestine:
The heat of the summer is greatly dreaded in Palestine, and as a rule the people rest under cover during the middle of the day, when the sun is hottest. There is no rain from May to October, and scarcely a cloud in the sky to cool the air or to screen off the burning vertical rays of the sun. The first word of advice given to visitors to the country is to protect themselves from the sun. Even on the mountains, where the temperature of the air is lower, the sun is perhaps more fierce, owing to the lesser density of the atmosphere.
2. Causes Disease:
This continuous summer heat often causes sunstroke, and the glare causes diseases of the eye which affect a large percentage of the people of Palestine and Egypt.
3. Relief Sought:
It is to be expected that in these times of heat and drought the ideal pleasure has come to be to sit in the shade by some cool flowing fountain. In the mountains the village which has the coolest spring of water is the most desired. These considerations give renewed meaning to the passages: "as cold waters to a thirsty soul" (Pr 25:25); "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters" (Ps 23:2). What a blessing to be "under the shadow of the Almighty" (Ps 91:1), where "the sun shall not strike upon them, nor any heat" (Re 7:16)!
4. Midday Heat:
The middle of the day is often referred to as the "heat of the day" (1Sa 11:11). It made a great difference to the army whether it could win the battle before the midday heat. Saladin won the great battle at Hattin by taking advantage of this fact. It was a particular time of the day when it was the custom to rest. "They came about the heat of the day to the house of Ish-bosheth, as he took his rest at noon" (2Sa 4:5). Yahweh appeared to Abraham as "he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day" (Ge 18:1). The hardship of working throughout the day is expressed in Mt 20:12, "who have borne the burden of the day and scorching heat." Sometimes just after sunrise the contrast of the cold of night and the heat of the sun is especially noticeable. "The sun ariseth with the scorching wind" (Jas 1:11).
5. Summer Heat:
In summer the wind is usually from the Southwest, but in case it is from the South it is sure to be hot. "When ye see a south wind blowing, ye say, There will be a scorching heat" (Lu 12:55). The heat on a damp, sultry day, when the atmosphere is full of dust haze is especially oppressive, and is referred to in Isa 25:5 as "the heat by the shade of a cloud." The heat of summer melts the snow on the mountains and causes all vegetation to dry up and wither. Ice and snow vanish in the heat thereof (Job 6:17), "Drought and heat consume the snow waters" (Job 24:19). But the "tree planted by the waters, that spreadeth out its roots by the river .... shall not fear when heat cometh, but its leaf shall be green" (Jer 17:8).
6. Figurative Uses:
The word is used often in connection with anger in the Scriptures: "hot anger" (Ex 11:8); "hot displeasure" (De 9:19); "anger of the Lord was hot against Israel" (Jud 2:14 the King James Version); "thine anger from waxing hot" (Ps 85:3 King James Version, margin); "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot" (Re 3:15).
Alfred H. Joy