North is the rendering which the A.V. gives in Job 37:9, for the Hebrew nezarim', מזָרַים; properly, as the margin reads, scattering winds, i.e. winds which scatter the clouds, and bring clear, cold weather. (The Sept. has ἀκρωτήρια, the Vulg. arcturus.) But Aben-Ezra and Michaelis understand Mezarim to mean a constellation, and the same as Mazzaroth (q.v.).
The Hebrews considered the cardinal points of the heavens in reference to a man whose face was turned towards the east, the north was consequently on his left hand (Ge 13:14; Jos 15:10; Jg 21:19; Jer 1:13); hence "the left hand" designates the north (Ge 14:15; Job 23:9). They also regarded what lay to the north as higher, and what lay to the south as lower; hence they who traveled from south to north were said to "go up" (Ge 45:25; Ho 8:9; Ac 18:3; Ac 19:1), while they who went from north to south were said to "go down" (Ge 12:10; Ge 26:2; Ge 38:1; 1Sa 30:15-16; 1Sa 25:1; 1Sa 26:2).
Elsewhere, the word north in our version stands for the Hebrew tsaphon', צָפוֹן, which is used in several senses:
1. It denotes a particular quarter of the heavens; thus, "Fair weather cometh out of the north" (Job 37:22); literally, "gold cometh," which our version, with the best critical authorities, understands figuratively, as meaning the golden splendor (of the firmament, i.e. "fair weather") (comp. Zec 4:12, "goldcolored oil"). The Sept. gives "the cloud having the lustre of gold," which perhaps corresponds with the χρυσωπὸς αἰθήρ, the gilded mether, or sky, of an old Greek tragedian, quoted by Grotius. The same Hebrew word is used poetically for the whole heaven in the following passage: "He stretcheth out the north (literally the concealed, dark place) (like ὑπὸ ζόφον, in Homer, Odys. 3:335; πρὸς ζόφον, Pindar, Nemae. 4:112) over the empty place" (Job 26:7; Sept. ἐπ᾿ οὐδέν). Hence the meaning probably is that the north wind clears the sky of clouds; which agrees with the fact in Palestine, to which Solomon thus alludes, "The north wind driveth away rain" (Pr 25:23). Homer styles it αἰθρηγενέτης, "producing clear weather" (Il. 15:171; Od. v. 296). Josephus calls it αἰθριώτατος, "that wind which most produces clear weather" (Ant. 15:9, 6); and Hesychius, ἐπιδέξιος, or "auspicious;" and see the remarkable rendering of the Sept. in Pr 27:16. The word occurs also in the same sense in the following passages: "The wind turneth about to the north" (Ec 1:6); "A whirlwind out of the north" (Eze 1:4).
2. It means a quarter of the earth (Ps 107:3; Isa 43:6; Ezekiel 20:47; 32:0;. comp. Lu 13:29).
3. It occurs in the sense of a northern aspect or direction, etc.; thus, "looking north" (1Ki 7:25; 1Ch 9:24; Nu 34:7); on "the north side" (Ps 48:2; Eze 8:14; Eze 40:44; comp. Re 21:13).
4. It is used as the conventional name for certain countries, irrespectively of their true geographical situation, viz. Babylonia, Chaldaea, Assyria, and Media, which are constantly represented as being to the north of Judaea, though some of them lay rather to the east of Palestine. Thus Assyria is called the north (Zep 2:13), and Babylonia (Jer 1:14; Jer 46:6,10,20,24; Eze 26:7; Judith 16:4). The origin of this use of the word is supposed to be found in the fact that the kings of most of these countries, avoiding the deserts, used to invade Judaea chiefly on the north side, by way of Damascus and Syria. Thus also the kings of the north that were "near" may mean the kings of Syria, and "those that are afar off" the Hyrcanians and Bactrians, etc., who are reckoned by Xenophon among the peoples that were subjected or oppressed by the king of Babylon, and perhaps others besides of the neighboring nations that were compelled to submit to the Babylonian yoke (Jer 25:26). By "the princes of the north" (Eze 32:30) some understand the Tyrians and their allies (Eze 26:16), joined here with the Zidonians, their neighbors. "The families of the north" (Jer 1:15) are inferior kings, who were allies or tributaries to the Babylonian empire (Jer 34:1; Jer 1; Jer 41; Jer 2:27). "The families of the north" (Jer 25:9) may mean a still inferior class of people, or nations dependent on Babylon. But the "king of the north" is the king of Syria; opposed to the king of the south, i.e. Egypt (Da 11:6-15,40). 5. The Hebrew word is applied to the north wind. In Pr 27:16, the impossibility of concealing the qualities of a contentious wife is compared to an attempt to bind the north wind. The invocation of Solomon (Song 4:16), "Awake, oh north, and come, thou south, blow upon my garden that the spices may flow out," and which has occasioned much perplexity to illustrators, seems well explained by Rosenmüller, as simply alluding to the effect of winds from opposite quarters in dispersing the fragrance of aromatic shrubs (ver. 13, 14) far and wide in all directions. A fine description of the effects of the north wind, in winter, occurs in Ecclus. 43:20, which truly agrees with the "horrifer Boreas" of Ovid (Met. 1:65), and in which reference is made to the coincident effects of the north wind and of fire (v. 21; comp. v. 3, 4), like the "Borese penetrabile frigus adurit" of Virgil (Georg. 1:93); or Milton's description,
—— "The parching air Burns fierce, and cold performs the effects of fire." Paradise Lost, 2:595.
Josephus states that the north wind in the neighbori hood of Joppa was called by those who sailed there Μελαμβόρειος, "the black north wind," and certainly his description of its effects, on one occasion, off that coast is appalling (War, 3:9, 3). SEE NOTUS.