Rainfall in the Ancient Near East

Throughout biblical history, one of the most tangible demonstrations of the Lord’s goodness to his people is seen in his provision of rain (Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 11:11-17; 28:12; 1 Samuel 12:17-18; 1 Kings 8:35-36; 2 Chronicles 6:26-27; 7:13; Ezra 10:9; Job 5:10; 37:6; Psalm 68:9; 135:7; 147:8; Isaiah 5:6; 44:3; Jeremiah 3:3; 5:24; 10:13; 14:4-22; 51:16; Ezekiel 34:26; Hosea 6:3; 10:12; Joel 2:23; Amos 4:7; Zechariah 10:1; 14:17; Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:17; James 5:7). In numerous passages of Scripture, the Lord is said to be the giver of rain, and rain was a sign of his blessing and favor, for with it came abundant harvests and plentiful drinking water. Conversely, rain could also be withheld as a sign of God’s displeasure with sin, leading to poor harvests and dwindling drinking water. Israel’s rainy season lasts from October until May, with the heaviest rains occurring in December and January. The summer months, from June until September, see almost no rain. The beginning of the rainy season in October is referred to in Scripture as the early rains, and farmers are eager for their arrival in order to begin plowing and planting. Then the rains continue heavily through the winter. Even more important, however, are what Scripture calls the latter rains. These final rains of the season can significantly increase yields–or bitterly destroy them–for they provide critical water necessary during the hottest portion of the growing season. Northern Galilee enjoys the most plentiful rainfall in Israel, with annual totals of about 660 mm, while the lower Jordan Valley and much of southern Israel are essentially desert lands, receiving a scant 16-22 mm of rain each year.


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Annual Rainfall (animation):

Data source: Fick, S.E. and R.J. Hijmans, 2017. WorldClim 2: new 1km spatial resolution climate surfaces for global land areas. International Journal of Climatology 37 (12): 4302-4315.