I do set my bow in the cloud
Or "I have given", or "have set it" F16; which seems as if it was at that instant set; this is the same we call the "rainbow": and so Horace F17 calls it "arcus pluvius": it is called a "bow", because of its form, being a semicircle, and a "rainbow", because it is seen in a day of rain, and is a sign of it, or of its being quickly over, ( Ezekiel 1:28 ) and this appears in a moist dewy cloud, neither very thick nor very thin, and is occasioned by the rays of the sun opposite to it, refracted on it: and this God calls "his bow", not only because made by him, for, notwithstanding the natural causes of it, the cloud and sun, the disposition of these to produce it, such a phenomenon is of God; but also because he appointed it to be a sign and token of his covenant with his creatures; so the Heathen poets F18 call the rainbow the messenger of Juno. It is a question whether there was a rainbow before the flood, and it is not easily answered; both Jews and Christians are divided about it; Saadiah thought there was one; but Aben Ezra disapproves of his opinion, and thinks it was first now made. The greater part of Christian interpreters are of the mind of Saadiah, that it was from the beginning, the natural causes of it, the sun and cloud, being before the flood; and that it was now after it only appointed to be a sign and token of the covenant; but though the natural causes of it did exist before, it does not follow, nor is it to be proved, that there was such a disposition of them to produce such an effect; and it might be so ordered in Providence, that there should not be any, that this might be entirely a new thing, and so a wonderful one, as the word for "token" F19 signifies; and the Greeks calls the rainbow the "daughter of Thaumas" or "Wonder" F20; and be the more fit to be a sign and token of the covenant, that God would no more destroy the earth with water; for otherwise, if this had been what Noah and his sons had been used to see, it can hardly be thought sufficient to take off their fears of a future inundation, which was the end and use it was to serve, as follows: it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth;
that is, between God and the creatures of the earth; or of a promise that God would no more destroy the earth, and cut off the creatures in it by a flood; for though it is a bow, yet without arrows, and is not turned downwards towards the earth, but upwards towards heaven, and so is a token of mercy and kindness, and not of wrath and anger.
F16 (yttn) "dedi", Montanus; so Ainsworth; "posui", Pisator, Drusius, Buxtorf.
F17 De Arte Poetica, ver. 18.
F18 Nuntia Junonis varios induta colores Concipit Iris aquas--------- Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 7.
F19 (twa) "signum, tam nudum, quam prodigiosum", Buxtorf.
F20 Plato in Theaeeteto, Plutarch. de Placit, Philosoph. 3, 4. Apollodor. Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 5.