(סוּפָה, suphah, Job 37:9; Pr 1:27; Pr 10:25; Isa 5:28; Isa 17:13; Isa 21:1; Isa 66:15; Jer 4:13; Ho 8:7; Am 1:14; Ne 1:3; elsewhere "storm," etc., denoting the sweeping force of the wind or hurricane; also סִעִר, sdar Jer 23:19; Jer 25:32; Jer 30:23;

elsewhere "tempest," or [fem.] סעָרָה, 2Ki 2:1,11; Job 38:1,6; Isa 40:24; Isa 41:16; Jer 23:19; Jer 30:23; Eze 1:4; Zec 9:14; elsewhere "storm," etc., which denote rather the violent rain or tempest, although accompanied with wind, Ps 107:25; Eze 13:11,13). "The two Hebrew terms above noted convey the notion of a violent wind, but with a different radical import — the former, because such a wind sweeps away every object it encounters; the latter, because the objects so swept away are tossed about and destroyed. In addition to this, Gesenius gives a similar sense to galydl, in Ps 77:18 (A.V. heaven) and Eze 1:3 (A.V. 'wheel'). Generally, however, this last term expresses one of the effects of such a storm in rolling along chaff, stubble, or such light articles (Thesaur. page 288). It does not appear that any of the above terms express the specific notion of a whirlwind, i.e., a gale moving violently round on its own axis, and there is no warrant for thie use of the word in the A.V. of 2Ki 2:11. The most violent winds in Palestine come from the east; and the passage in Job 37:9, which in the A.V. reads 'Out of the south cometh the whirlwind,' should rather be rendered 'Out of his chamber,' etc. The whirlwind is frequently used as a metaphor for violent and sweeping destruction. Cyrus's invasion of Babylonia is compared to a southerly gale coming out of the wilderness of Arabia (Isa 21:1; comp. Knobel, ad loc.), the effects of which are most prejudicial in that country. Similar allusions occur in Ps 58:9; Pr 1:27; Pr 10:25; Isa 40:24; Da 11:40" (Smith). In a large proportion of the passages the terms in question are employed in a figurative sense with reference to the resistless and sweeping destruction that is sure to overtake the wicked, But this of course implies. that tempests of such a character were phenomena not unknown in some parts of Palestine. We have only to look into the accounts of travellers to see how much this is the case, especially in the South Country and the regions bordering on the Dead Sea. Prof. Robinson and party were exposed to a violent. sirocco in the desert, in their route from Akabah to Jerusalem, which continued until towards evening.

"Whirlwind." topical outline.

"The wind had been all the morning N.E;, but at eleven o'clock it suddenly changed to the south, and came upon us with violence and intense heat, until it blew a perfect tempest. The atmosphere was filled with fine pirticles of sand, forming a bluish haze; the sun was scarcely visible, his disk exhibiting only a dun and sickly hue; and the of the wind came upon our faces as from a burning oven. Often we could not see ten rods around us, and our eyes, ears, mouths, and clothes were filled with sand. The thermometer at twelve o'clock stood at 88 Fahr., and had apparently been higher; and at two o'clock it had fallen to 76 , although the wind still continued. Our Arabs called it shurkiyeh, i.e., an east wind, although it blew fom the south. The simnoon, i.e., burning or poisonous wind, they said, differs from it only in its greater heat the haze, and sand, and discoloration of the air being alike in both. Should it overtake a traveller without water, it may, in certain circumstances, prove fatal to him. He needs water, not only to drink, but it is well to wash the skin. The simoon, they said, prevails only during the season when the khamusius blows in Egypt." Farther on he states, "The tempest had become a tornado. It was with the utmost difficulty that we could pitch our tent, or keep it upright after it was pitched. For a time the prospect was dreadful, and the storm in itself was probably as terrific as most of those which have given rise to the exaggerated accounts of travellers" (Reseasrches, 1:287, 289). A similar tempest of hot wind, "the glow of the air being like the mouth of a furnace," and fully charged with dust and sand, overtook him in the Arabah, not very far from the Dead Sea, about the end of May (ibid. 2:504). Lieut. Lynch describes, under April 26, a tempest which assailed him on the Dead Sea. It was with difficulty the boat was rowed ashore. He and his companions were nearly stifled with the wind. They sought relief in a ravine, where they found pools sufficient to bathe in; but the relief was only momentary. The wind increased to a tempest; the sun became red and rayless; the thermometer rose to 104 ; and when "some endeavored to make a screen of one of the boat's awnings, the fierce' wind swept it over in an instant. It was more like a blast of a furnace than living air" (Expedition, page 314). Kitto remarks (Pict. Bible, note on Isa 37:36):

"As we have ourselves only felt the mitigated effecth of this wind on the skirts of deserts and in the shelter of towns, we cannot from experience speak of the more disastrous effects which it exhibits in the open deserts; bust, judging from what we observed under the circumstances indicated, and from such in formation as we have collected, we have no doubt that the numerous accomplished travellers of the last century and the one before, as Chardin, Shaw, Niebuhr, Volney, Bruce, Ives, and others, are correct in their united testimomy, supported as it is by the consenting evidence of natives accustomed to traverse the deserts. It is necessary to mention this, because some more recent travellers, who, on account of the season or direction of their journeys, had no occasion to experience any other than the milder effects of this wind, have seemed to doubt the destructive power which has been attributed to it." The most complete account of the simoon and its effects is that given by Volney (Travels, 1:4). That part which describes its effects in the towns tourists can confirm from their own experience, and the rest is amply corroborated by the testimony of other travellers.

Bible concordance for WHIRLWIND.

"Travellers have mentioned these winds under the name of poisonous winds, or, more correctly, hot winds of the desert. Such, in fact, is their quality; and their heat is sometimes so excessive that it is difficult to form an idea of their violence without having experienced it; but it may be compared to the heat of a large oven at the moment of drawing out the bread. When these winds begin to blow, the atmosphere assumes an alarming aspect. The sky, at other times so clear in this climate, becomes dark and heavy, and the sun loses its splendor and appears of a violet color. The air is not cloudy, but gray and thick, and is, in fact, filled with an extremely subtle dust that penetrates everywhere. This wind, always light and rapid, is not at first remarkably hot, but increases in heat in proportion as it continues. All animated bodies soon discover it by the change it produces in them. The lungs, which a too rarefied air no longer expand: are contracted and become painful. Respiration is short and difficult, the skin parched and dry, and the body consumed by an internal heat. In vain is recourse had to large draughts of water; nothing can restore perspiration. In vain is coolness sought for; all bodies in which it is usual to find it deceive the hand that touches them. Marble, iron, water — notwithstanding the sun no longer appears — are hot. The streets are deserted and the dead silence of night reigns everywhere. The inhabitants of towns and villages shut themselves up in their houses and those of the desert in their tents, or in pits they dig in the earth where they wait the termination of the destructive heat. It usually lasts three days; but if it exceeds that time, it becomes insupportable. Woe to the traveller whom this wind surprises remote from shelter! he must suffer all its dreadful consequences, which sometimes are mortal. The danger is most imminent when it blows ill squalls, for then the rapidity of the wind increases the heat to such a degree as to cause sudden death. This death is a real suffocation; the lungs, being empty, are convulsed, the circulation disordered, and the whole mass of blood driven by the heat towards the head and breast; whence that hemorrhage at the nose and mouth which happens after death. This wind is especially fatal to persons of a plethoric habit, and those in whom fatigue has destroyed the tone of the muscles and vessels. The corpse remains a long time warm, swells, turns blue, alnd is easily separated; all of which are signs of that putrid fermentation which takes place when the humors become stagnant. These accidents are to be avoided by stopping the nose and mouth with handkerchiefs. An efficacious method is also that practiced by the camels, who bury their noses in the sand, and keep them there till the squall is over. Another quality of this wind is its extreme aridity, which is such that water sprinkled upon the floor evaporates in a few minutes. By this extreme dryness it withers and strips all the plants; and, by inhaling too suddenly the emanations from animal bodies, crisps the skin, closes the pores, and causes that feverish heat which is the invariable effect of suppressed perspiration." The ninth plague with which the Lord afflicted the Egyptians was a thick darkness, which is generally identified with the tempest called khamsin, prevalent in Egypt in the months of April and May (Ex 10:293). When the khamsin blows, the sun is pale yellow, its light is obscured, and the darkness is sometimes so great that one seems to be in the blackest night, even in the middle of the day. Sonini says, "The atmosphere was heated, and at the same time obscured by clouds of dust. Men and animals breathed only vapor, and that was mingled with a fine and hot sand. Plants drooped, and all living nature languished. The air was dark on account of a thick mist of fine dust as red as flame." Hartmann says, "The inhabitants of the cities and villages shut themselves up in the lowest apartments of their houses and cellars; but the inhabitants of the desert go into their tents, or into the holes which they have dug in the ground. There they await, full of anxiety, the termination of this kind of tempest, which generally lasts three days." The hot wind of the desert, called by the Italians sirocco, and by the Arabs shurkiyeh, i.e., an east wind, resembles the khamsin of Egypt. The sand-storms occur in the most awful form in deserts, when the fine sand is thrown into hillocks, and these are swept by furious winds, the sand of which they are formed being tossed on high, and whirled rapidly and densely through the air, until the storm has finally subsided. Under this most awful visitation of the sand-storm, it sometimes happens that travellers and their cattle are overwhelmed and suffocated. And even the more common and less dangerous forms ot this phenomenon, which occur in regions less absolutely sandy, or where the sands are less extensive than in the great sandy deserts of Asia, are still very formidable and alarming. Mr. Buckingham has given a description of such a storm, of that kind which must have been familiar to the Israelites during their wanderings. It occurred in the desert of Suez, that is, on the western verge of that sandy desert which occupies a considerable portion of the country between Egypt and Palestine.

The morning was delightful on our setting out, and promised us a fine day: but the light airs from the south soon increased to a gale, the sun became obscure, and as every hour brought us into a looser sand, it flew about us in such whirlwinds, with the sudden gusts that blew, that it was impossible to proceed. We halted, therefore, for an hour, and took shelter under the lee of our beasts, who were themselves so terrified as to need fastening by the knees, and uttered in their wailings but a melancholy symphony. . . . Fifty gales of wind at sea appeared to me more easy to be encountered than one among these sands. It is impossible to imagine desolation more complete. We could see neither sun, earth, nor sky; the plain at ten paces' distance was absolutely imperceptible. Our beasts, as well as ourselves, were so covered as to render breathing difficult; they hid their faces in the ground, and we could only uncover our own for amoment to behold this chaos of mid-day darkness, and wait patiently for its abatement." Dr. Thomson states (Land and Book, 2:311), "We have two kinds of sirocco — one accompanied by vehement wind, which fills the air with dust and fine sand, I have often seen the whole heavens veiled in gloom with this sort of sand-cloud, through which the sun, shorn of his beams. looked like a globe of dull, smouldering fire." SEE WIND.

Definition of whirlwind

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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