The dews in Palestine and some other oriental countries are very copious, and serve very greatly to sustain and promote vegetation in seasons when little or no falls. Maundrell tells us that the tents of his company, when pitched on Tabor and Hermon, "were as wet with dew as if it had rained on them all night," Jg 6:38; Song 5:2. Dew was especially heavy near the mountains, and just before and after the rainy season. It was prized as a precious boon of Providence, Ge 27:28; De 33:28; 1Ki 17:1; Job 29:19; Hag 1:10; Zec 8:12. The dew furnishes the sacred penmen with many beautiful allusions, De 32:2; 2Sa 17:12; Ps 110:3; Pr 19:12; Ho 14:5; Mic 5:7.
There is no dew properly so called in Palestine, for there is no moisture in the hot summer air to be chilled into dew-drops by the coldness of the night. From May till October rain is unknown, the sun shining with unclouded brightness day after day. The heat becomes intense, the ground hard, and vegetation would perish but for the moist west winds that come each night from the sea. The bright skies cause the heat of the day to radiate very quickly into space, so that the nights are as cold as the day is the reverse, a peculiarity of climate from which poor Jacob suffered thousands of years ago (Ge 31:40). To this coldness of the night air the indispensable watering of all plant-life is due. The winds, loaded with moisture, are robbed of it as they pass over the land, the cold air condensing it into drops of water, which fall in a gracious rain of mist on every thirsty blade. In the morning the fog thus created rests like a sea over the plains, and far up the sides of the hills, which raise their heads above it like so many islands. At sunrise, however, the scene speedily changes. By the kindling light the mist is transformed into vast snow-white clouds, which presently break into separate masses and rise up the mountain-sides, to disappear in the blue above, dissipated by the increasing heat. These are 'the morning clouds and the early dew that go away' of which Hosea (Ho 6:4; 13:3) speaks so touchingly (Geikie's The Holy Land, etc., i., p. 72). Dew is a source of great fertility (Ge 27:28; De 33:13; Zec 8:12), and its withdrawal is regarded as a curse from God (2Sa 1:21; 1Ki 17:1). It is the symbol of a multitude (2Sa 17:12; Ps 110:3); and from its refreshing influence it is an emblem of brotherly love and harmony (Ps 133:3), and of rich spiritual blessings (Ho 14:5).
In Palestine failing in early summer, again in autumn, and supplying the absence of rain. So copious as to saturate Gideon's fleece, so that a bowl full of water was wrung out, and to wet the ground in one night (Jg 6:37-40). A leading source of fertility (Ge 27:28; De 33:13; Job 29:19; Ho 14:5; Isa 18:4; Zec 8:12). Its being withheld brought barrenness (1Ki 17:1; Hag 1:10). Its speedy drying up symbolizes the formalist's goodness (Ho 6:4; 13:3).
On the other hand its gentle, silent, benignant influence, diffusing itself over the parched ground, represents the blessed effect of God's word and God's grace (De 32:2); also brotherly love (Ps 133:3), the "dew of Hermon (i.e. copious and refreshing dew) that descended upon Zion"; or else, believers from various parts are joined by brotherly love on the one spiritual Zion, like the countless dewdrops wafted together, if it were physically possible, from various mountains, as Hermon, to the one natural Zion. The effect on the world of brotherly love among various believers would be like that of dew, all simultaneously saturating the dry soil and making it fruitful (Joh 17:21-23).
The dew springing "from the womb of the morning," not by visible irrigation, is the emblem of youthful, fresh, living, beautiful, infinite rigor, namely, that of Christ and of Christ's people in union with Him (Ps 110:3). Israel shall hereafter be "in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord" (Mic 5:7); overwhelming their enemies "as the dew falleth on the ground" (2Sa 17:12), and as "life from the dead" to the millennial earth, as "the dew of herbs" causes them to revive after the deadness of winter (Isa 26:19).
The process whereby dew is formed is enhanced in Eastern countries like Palestine, where the surface of the ground and the air in contact therewith are highly heated during the daytime, but where at night, and particularly under a cloudless sky, the heat of the ground is radiated into space and the air becomes rapidly cooled down. The excess of moisture in the air then gently 'falls as dew on the tender herb,' and sometimes so copiously as to sustain the life of many plants which would otherwise perish during the rainless season; or even, as in the case of Gideon, to saturate a fleece of wool (Jg 6:38). Deprivation of dew, as well as of rain, becomes a terrible calamity in the East. On this account 'dew and rain' are associated in the imprecation called down by David on the mountains of Gilboa (2Sa 1:21); and in the curse pronounced on Ahab and his kingdom by Elijah (1Ki 17:1), as also by the prophet Haggai on the Jews after the Restoration (Hag 1:10) owing to their unwillingness to rebuild the Temple. In the Book of Job the formation of dew is pointed to as one of the mysteries of nature insoluble by man (Job 38:28); but in Pr. it is ascribed to the omniscience and power of the Lord (Pr 3:20). Dew is a favourite emblem in Scripture: (a) richness and fertility (Ge 27:28; De 33:13); (b) refreshing and vivifying effects (De 32:2; Isa 18:4); (c) stealth (2Sa 17:12); (d) inconstancy (Ho 6:4; 13:3); (e) the young warriors of the Messianic king (Ps 110:3).
Whatever may be said as to the source and cause of the dew, scripture shows that
3. It is a blessing, a refreshment sent by God, and withheld for a punishment, or in discipline. Ps 133:3; Isa 26:19; Hag 1:10; 1Ki 17:1. In the summer the dew is very copious in Palestine, and aids greatly in the cultivation of the land. It is typical of the refreshment and strengthening which God sends down upon His people during the night of the absence of their Lord. It will not be needed when the day breaks, and the Sun of righteousness arises with healing in His wings. Mal 4:2.
This in the summer is so copious in Palestine that it supplies to some extent the absence of rain and becomes important to the agriculturist. Thus it is coupled in the divine blessing with rain, or mentioned as a prime source of fertility,
and its withdrawal is attributed to a curse.
It becomes a leading object in prophetic imagery by reason of its penetrating moisture without the apparent effort of rain,
while its speedy evanescence typifies the transient goodness of the hypocrite.
DEW. Dews in Palestine are very plentiful, like a small shower of rain every morning. Gideon filled a basin with the dew which fell on a fleece of wool, Jg 6:38. Isaac, blessing Jacob, wished him the dew of heaven, which fattens the fields, Ge 27:28. In those warm countries where it seldom rains, the night dews supply the want of showers. Isaiah speaks of rain as if it were a dew, Isa 18:4. Some of the most beautiful and illustrative of the images of the Hebrew poets are taken from the dews of their country. The reviving influence of the Gospel, the copiousness of its blessings, and the multitude of its converts, are thus set forth.