Dew (טִל, tal, gentle moisture; Gr. δρόσος) is mentioned as falling in the East (Maundrell, p. 77; Robinson, 3, 479), e.g. in Babylon (Da 4:12,22), likewise in Palestine during the summer nights (Baruch, 2:25), so heavy as to wet like a mode ate rain (Song 5:2; Jg 6:38), the absence of which it somewhat supplies (Ecclesiasticus 18:16; 43:22), greatly cooling the earth heated by day (comp. Curt. 7:5, 5), and refreshing vegetation (Hasselquist, p. 264; Volney, 1:51; Rosenmuller, Mlorgenl. 1:122). Thus it is coupled in the divine blessing with rain, or mentioned as a prime source of fertility (Ge 27:28; De 33:13; Zec 8:12), and its withdrawal is attributed to a curse (2Sa 1:21; 1Ki 17:1; Hag 1:10). SEE IRRIGATION.
The value of this blessing cannot be adequately appreciated by the Western reader; but in Palestine, and indeed throughout Western Asia, rain rarely if ever falls from April to September, and the heat of the sun being at the same time very strong, all vegetation would be parched and dried up were it not for the copious dews which fall during the night and completely moisten the ground, keeping in a fertile condition lands which would otherwise be sterile and desolate. But all this moisture evaporates with astonishing rapidity as soon as the sun has risen. It seems that the advantage of these abundant dews is not generally enjoyed except in regions more or less hilly or elevated, or in confined valleys. In extensive open plains and deserts, it does not seem that any copious dews fall in summer. But in such tracts no men can inhabit except the wandering tribes, and towns and villages are only found on the banks of natural or artificial streams; nor, unless in the same situations, is any cultivation attempted where there are no night dews in summer to compensate for the want of rain (Kitto, Pict. Bible, note on Ge 27:28). SEE FLEECE. The various passages of Scripture in which dew is mentioned, as well as the statements of travelers, might, however, unless carefully considered, convey the impression that in Palestine the dews fall copiously at night during the height of summer, and supply in some degree the lack of rain. But we find that those who mention dews traveled in spring and autumn, while those who traveled in summer make no mention of them. In fact, scarcely any dew does fall during the summer months — from the middle of May to the middle of August; but as it continues to fall for some time after the rains of spring have ceased, and begins to fall before the rains of autumn commence, we may from this gather the sense in which the scriptural references to dew are to be understood. Without the dews continuing to fall after the rains have ceased, and commencing before the rains return, the season of actual drought, and the parched appearance of the country, would be of much longer duration than they really are. See DROUGHT. The partial refreshment thus afforded to the ground at the end of a summer without dews or rains, is of great value in Western Asia, and would alone explain all the Oriental references to the effects of dew. This explanation is of further interest as indicating the times of the year to which the scriptural notices of dew refer; for as it does not, in any perceptible degree, fall in summer, and as few would think of mentioning it in the season of rain, we may take all such notices to refer to the months of April, May, part of August, and September (Kitto, Phys. Hist. of Palest. p. 301). SEE SEASONS.
Dew, as consisting of innumerable drops, is put as the symbol of multitude (2Sa 17:12); thus, in Ps 110:3, from the womb of the morning shall be to thee the dew of thy youths, i.e. the youth of thy people, numerous and fresh as the drops of the morning dew, shall go forth to fight thy battles (comp. Mic 5:6). It becomes a leading object in prophetic imagery by reason of its penetrating moisture without the apparent effort of rain (De 32:2; Job 29:19; Ps 133:3; Pr 19:12; Isa 26:19; Ho 14:5; Mic 5:7). It is mentioned as a token of exposure in the night (Song 5:2; Da 4:15,23,25-33; Da 5:21). Also the morning dew is the symbol of something evanescent (Ho 6:4; Ho 13:3). From its noiseless descent and refreshing influence, dew is sometimes made an emblem of brotherly love and harmony (Ps 133:3). SEE RAIN.