Pillar of Fire and of Cloud
The explanation of this phenomenon is not easy. The association of the term “cloud” with God is very frequent in the OT. In some of the above passages the term “cloud” may mean “pillar of cloud” (
Some rationalistic writers have suggested that the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night may have been produced by a lighted bowl of pitch mounted on a pole. There are references by ancient historians and later travelers to the practice of Pers. armies and Arab caravans carrying braziers of burning wood at the head of their march. The large bronze pillars in front of Solomon’s Temple, which are thought by some to have been fiery cressets (or bowls of pitch), that emitted smoke and flame by day and night during festivals (
W. F. Albright, “Two Cressets from Marisa and the pillars of,” BASOR, 85 (1942), 18-27; G. H. Davies, “ ,” IB, III (1962), 817; J. Finegan, Let My People Go (1963), 95.