kold (qor; psuchros (adj.), psuchos (noun)): Palestine is essentially a land of sunshine and warmth.
1. Temperature in Palestine:
The extreme cold of northern latitudes is unknown. January is the coldest month; but the degree of cold in a particular place depends largely on the altitude above the sea. On the seacoast and plain the snow never falls; and the temperature reaches freezing-point, perhaps once in thirty years. In Jerusalem at 2,500 ft. above the sea the mean temperature in January is about 45 degrees F., but the minimum may be as low as 25 degrees F. Snow occasionally falls, but lasts only a short time. On Mt. Hermon and on the Lebanons snow may be found the whole year, and the cold is most intense, even in the summer. In Jericho and around the Dead Sea, 1,292 ft. below sea-level, it is correspondingly hotter, and cold is not known.
2. Provision against Cold:
Cold is of such short duration that no adequate provision is made by the people to protect themselves against the cold. The sun is always bright and warm, and nearly always shines for part of the day, even in winter. After sunset the people wrap themselves up and go to sleep. They prefer to wrap up their heads rather than their feet in order to keep warm. The only means of heating the houses is the charcoal brazier around which as many as possible gather for a little warmth. It is merely a bed of coals in an iron vessel. Peter was glad to avail himself of the little heat of the coals as late as the beginning of April, when the nights are often chilly in Jerusalem: "Having made a fire of coals; for it was cold: .... and Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself" (Joh 18:18). There is no attempt made to heat the whole house. In the cold winter months the people of the mountains almost hibernate. They wrap up their heads in shawls and coverings and only the most energetic venture out: "The sluggard will not plow by reason of the winter" (Pr 20:4, the King James Version "cold"). The peasants and more primitive people of the desert often make a fire in the open or in partial shelter, as in Melita where Paul was cast ashore after shipwreck: "The barbarians .... kindled a fire .... because of the cold" (Ac 28:2).
3. Dread of Cold:
The cold is greatly dreaded because it causes so much actual suffering: "Who can stand before his cold?" (Ps 147:17). The last degree of degradation is to have "no covering in the cold" (Job 24:7).
4. Cold Grateful in Summer:
In the heat of the long summer, the shadow of a rock or the cool of evening is most grateful, and the appreciation of a cup of cold water can easily be understood by anyone who has experienced the burning heat of the Syrian sun: "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country" (Pr 25:25); "cold of snow in the time of harvest" (Pr 25:13), probably with reference to the use of snow (shaved ice) in the East to cool a beverage.
Figurative uses: "The love of the many shall wax cold" (Mt 24:12); "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot" (Re 3:15).
Alfred H. Joy