For he saith to the snow, be thou [on] the earth
In the original it is, be thou earth: hence one of the Rabbins formed a notion, that the earth was created from snow under the throne of glory, which is justly censured by Maimonides F6; for there is a defect of the letter (b) , as in ( 2 Chronicles 34:30 ) ; as Aben Ezra observes; and therefore rightly supplied by us, on the earth. This is one of the great and incomprehensible things of God. What is the cause of it, how it is generated, what gives it its exceeding whiteness and its form, we rather guess at than certainly know; and there are some things relative to it not easy to be accounted for: as that it should be generated in the lower region of the air, so near us, and yet be so cold; and be so cold in its own nature, yet be like a blanket warming to the earth; and that being so cold, it should fall in hot countries, as in many parts of Africa, as Leo Africanus asserts F7; and though so easily melted, yet lies continually upon the top of a burning mountain, Mount Etna, as observed by Pineda and others. God has his treasures of it, and he brings it forth from thence; it is at his command, it goes at a word speaking; it is one of the things that fulfil his word, ( Psalms 148:8 ) . And if what Pliny F8 says is true, that snow never falls upon the high seas or main ocean, the expression here is, with great exactness and propriety, be thou on the earth. However, this is certain, that to the earth only it is useful, warming, refreshing, and fructifying; it has a wonderful virtue in it to fatten the earth. Olaus Magnus F9 reports, that in the northern countries, where it falls in great plenty, the fields are more fruitful than any others, and sooner put forth their fruits and increase than other fields prepared and cultivated with the greatest labour and diligence: and that they are often obliged to drive off the cattle from them, lest they should eat too much and burst, the fields and meadows becoming so luxurious by it; and frequently they mow off the tops of herbs and grass with their scythes, to prevent their growing too thick. The word of God, as for its purity, so for its warming, refreshing, and fructifying nature, is compared unto it, ( Isaiah 55:10 Isaiah 55:11 ) ;
likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength:
that is, God says to these as to the snow, be upon the earth; and they presently are, whether lesser or larger showers: the lesser or more gentle, according to Seneca F11, fall in, the winter, and the larger in spring; the former when the north wind blows, the latter when the south; but whenever they come, they fall by the direction of God, and at his command. He and he only gives rain, the vanities of the Gentiles cannot; and these are sent to water and refresh the earth, and make it fruitful; for which reason also the word of God is compared thereunto, ( Deuteronomy 32:12 ) ( Isaiah 55:10 Isaiah 55:11 ) . The Targum is,
``to the rain after rain in summer, to ripen the fruits; and to the rain after the rain, to cause the grass to bud in winter in his strength.''So a shower of rain in the singular number signifies rain that falls in summer; and a shower of rain in the plural what falls in winter.
F6 Moreh Nevochim, par. 2. c. 26.
F7 Descriptio Africae, l. 1. c. 27, 28. l. 2. c. 27, 46, 69.
F8 Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 103.
F9 De Ritu Gent. Septentr. l. 19. c. 15.
F11 Nat. Quaest. l. 4. c. 4.