hal (baradh; chalaza):
1. Its Occurrence:
Hail usually falls in the spring or summer during severe thunder storms. Hailstones are made up of alternate layers of ice and snow, and sometimes reach considerable size, causing great damage by their fall. Upward currents of air carry up raindrops already formed to the colder regions above, where they freeze, and as they again pass through layers of cloud, their bulk increases until, too heavy to be carried by the current, they fall to the ground. Hailstorms, like thunder storms, occur in narrow belts a few miles in breadth and are of short duration. Almost without exception they occur in the daytime. If they take place before the time of harvest they do great damage to grain and fruit, and in extreme cases have injured property and endangered life.
2. In Syria:
Hailstorms, while by no means common in Syria and Palestine, are not unusual and are of great severity. They occasionally take place in Egypt. Within a few years hailstones of unusual size fell in Port Said, breaking thousands of windows.
3. Biblical Instances:
(1) The plague of hail (Ex 9:23-24; Ps 78:47), which was a local storm, as they usually are, falling on the Egyptians and not striking the children of Israel in Goshen. It was of great severity. "There was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation" (Ex 9:24). It took place in January, for the barley "was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom" (Ex 9:31), and caused great damage. (2) After the battle with the Amorites at Gibeon, "Yahweh cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more who died with the hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword" (Jos 10:11).
4. As Punishment:
Hail is often spoken of as a means of punishing the wicked: "As a tempest of hail .... will he cast down" (Isa 28:2); "The hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies" (Isa 28:17); and as symbols of God's anger: "I will rain .... great hailstones, fire, and brimstone" (Eze 38:22); "There shall be .... great hailstones in wrath to consume it" (Eze 13:13; compare Isa 30:30; Hag 2:17; Re 8:7; 11:19; 16:21).
5. God's Power:
Yahweh's power and wisdom are shown in controlling the hail: "Hast thou seen the treasuries of the hail?" (Job 38:22); "Fire and hail, snow and vapor .... fulfilling his word" (Ps 148:8).
Alfred H. Joy