In Scripture the "early" and the "latter" rain of Palestine is spoken of,
De 11:14; Ho 6:3. The former falls in the latter part of October, the seed-time of Palestine; and the weather then continues variable, with more or less rain the whole winter, until after the latter or spring rain in April. Afterwards, the weather becomes serene, and the crops ripen. The wheat harvest takes place in May; by the middle of August, the fruits are gathered in; and from that time to the coming of the first or October rains, prevail the scorching heats and droughts of summer. Nothing can more expressively represent spiritual blessings than copious showers of rain after this trying season is past, De 32:2; Job 29:23; Isa 44:3; Ho 10:12.
It appears from meteorological records kept at Jerusalem, that the average annual fall of rain is fifty-five inches. It would seem therefore, that if the rains of Palestine could be preserved in pools and reservoirs, and employed in irrigating the ground during the summer, the old fertility might be restored; it would be clothed again with verdure, and become like "the garden of the Lord."
There are three Hebrew words used to denote the rains of different seasons, (1.) Yoreh (Ho 6:3), or moreh (Joe 2:23), denoting the former or the early rain. (2.) Melqosh, the "latter rain" (Pr 16:15). (3.) Geshem, the winter rain, "the rains." The heavy winter rain is mentioned in Ge 7:12; Ezr 10:9; Song 2:11. The "early" or "former" rains commence in autumn in the latter part of October or beginning of November (De 11:14; Joe 2:23; comp. Jer 3:3), and continue to fall heavily for two months. Then the heavy "winter rains" fall from the middle of December to March. There is no prolonged fair weather in Palestine between October and March. The "latter" or spring rains fall in March and April, and serve to swell the grain then coming to maturity (De 11:14; Ho 6:3). After this there is ordinarily no rain, the sky being bright and cloudless till October or November.
(See PALESTINE; Climate.) Matar. Geshem, "violent rain" or generically "the early and latter rain" (Jer 5:24; Joe 2:23). Yoreh, "the early rain of autumn"; malkosh, "the latter rain of spring" (Pr 16:15; Job 29:23; Jer 3:3; Ho 6:3; Zec 10:1). Rebibim, from rab "many," from the multitude of drops; "showers" (De 32:2). Zerem, "violent rain," "hailstorm" (Job 24:8). Sagrir only in Pr 27:15. As compared with Egypt, Palestine was a land of rain (De 11:10-11), but for six months no rain falls so that "rain in harvest" and "thunder" were marvelous phenomena, and out of time and place (Pr 26:1; 1Sa 12:16-18). The early rain begins gradually, the latter end of October or beginning of November. Generally from the W. or S.W. (Lu 12:54); the wind then changes to the N. or E. At no period in the winter, from the end of October to the end of March, does rain entirely cease. In January and February snow falls, but lies only a short time.
The early rain means the first autumnal showers which prepare the arid soil for the seed; "the latter rain" the later spring showers, especially in March, which Bring forward the crop toward harvest (Jas 5:7; Pr 16:15). Showers fall occasionally in April and May. God claims as His peculiar prerogative the sending or withholding of rain, which He made dependent on the obedience or disobedience of Israel (Le 26:3-5,19; De 11:13-15; 28:23-24; Jer 3:3; 5:24; 14:22). "The latter rain in the first (month)" in Joe 2:23 means in the month when first it is needed; or else, as Vulgate and Septuagint, "as at the first" (compare Isa 1:26; Ho 2:15; Mal 3:4); or in Nisan or Abib, the Passover month, the first, namely, the end of March and beginning of April. The departure of winter was marked by the cessation of rain (Song 2:11-13). Rain is the beautiful image of the Spirit's refreshing influences in Messiah's kingdom (Ho 6:3; 2Sa 23:4; Ps 72:6).
The Palestine year is divided roughly into two parts
Palestine differed from Egypt in that its vegetation was dependent on the rain from heaven, instead of having to be watered from the river. Rain fell regularly except when God withheld it in chastisement. De 11:11-17. We read of the 'early rain' and the 'latter rain.' The early rain was connected with the sowing of seed; the month Bul signifies 'rain,' which agrees with about our October; and the latter rain in spring (about our February). By recent statistics the seasons appear to have somewhat altered, and most rain now falls from November to March inclusive. It is also judged that the cutting down of trees to make charcoal has affected the fall of rain in some districts.
In the Bible "early rain" signifies the rain of the autumn,
and "latter rain" the rain of spring.
For six months in the year, from May to October, no rain falls, the whole land becomes dry, parched and brown. The autumnal rains are eagerly looked for, to prepare the earth for the reception of the seed. These, the early rains, commence about the latter end of October continuing through November and December. January and February are the coldest months, and snow falls, sometimes to the depth of a foot or more, at Jerusalem, but it does not lie long; it is very seldom seen along the coast and in the low plains. Rain continues to fall more or less during the month of March it is very rare in April. Robinson observes that there are not, at the present day, "any particular periods of rain or succession of showers which might be regarded as distinct rainy seasons. The whole period from October to March now constitutes only one continued season of rain, without any regularly-intervening term of prolonged fine weather. Unless therefore, there has been some change in the climate, the early and the latter rains, for which the husbandman waited with longing, seem rather to hare implied the first showers of autumn--which revived the parched and thirsty soil and prepared it for the seed --and the later showers of spring, which continued to refresh and forward both the ripening crops and the vernal products of the fields."
RAIN, the vapours exhaled by the sun, which descend from the clouds to water the earth, Ec 11:3. The sacred writers often speak of the rain of the former and latter season, De 11:14; Ho 6:3. Twice in the year there generally fell plenty of rain in Judea; in the beginning of the civil year, about September or October; and half a year after, in the month of Abib, or March, which was the first month in the ecclesiastical or sacred year, whence it is called the latter rain in the first month, Joe 2:23. (See Canaan.) The ancient Hebrews compared elocution, and even learning or doctrine, to rain: "My doctrine shall drop as the rain," De 32:2.