Climate

Rainfall

Dt 11:14 speaks of "rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain", and these may also be distinguished in other passages. However, rather than two distinct periods of rain there is a wet season and a dry season in Palestine. The first rains begin around the middle of October, the major falls are in December-January, while some rain is still expected in March and April.

Different areas receive very different annual falls. The hill country and parts of Trans-Jordan have annual figures over 600mm, while the Negev and around the Dead Sea get less than 100mm.

The photo (above right from Tekoa towards the Dead Sea, Clifford) suggests how dry much of the promised land is compared to many countries.

Dew is also of major importance, with many areas receiving as much moisture from this as from rain.

River and Wadi

Water is vital in dry country like Palestine. In that context much of the use of water as symbol of life and sign of divine providence makes sense.

Ps 42 begins with a strong sample of such language:
As a deer longs for flowing streams, 
   so my soul longs for you, O God. 
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. 
   When shall I come and behold the face of God?


(Above) Trees grow in the water left in a dry wadi (from Rustikelo)

When rain falls on the hills water flows in a torrent down the wadis of Palestine. Because there is little vegetation on the hills this water arrives first as a flash flood before slowing to a gentler flow (as in the picture of the Wadi Mujib, from Kartique, right). These flash floods can carry away and drown unsuspecting animals drinking from the stream.

 

Temperatures

The dry months of Summer are also the hottest, with monthly temperatures between 20° and 30°C and highs of over 40° in places. These temperatures together with the dry Sirocco wind soon dry the soil.

In winter, nighttime temperatures are low, and snow even falls on the hills.


This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,

© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.