Friday, April 15, 2022

The Hebrew noun גשׁם (geshem) means "rain." Readers of Genesis will be familiar with גשׁם (geshem) due to its appearance in the story of Noah. Genesis 7:12 uses גשׁם (geshem) when it states: "The rainגשׁם) fell on the earth forty days and forty nights." Given the climate and geography of the Levant, the regular coming of the rains is essential for a successful harvest. Leviticus 26:4 addresses this concern when God promises the Israelites that in return for their obedience: "I will give you your rains (גשׁמיכם) in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit." However, rains are not always regular, and their failure, due to natural or divine reasons, can result in dry river beds and potential famine, as described in 1 Kings 17:7: "But after a while the wadi dried up, because there was no rain (גשׁם) in the land."

The noun גשׁם (geshem) has a related verb גשׁם (gāsham) that means "to rain" or "to rain upon." The verb appears only twice in the Hebrew Bible—once in Jeremiah 14:22: "Can any idols of the nations bring rainגשׁמים)? Or can the heavens give showers?," and again in Ezekiel 22:24: "You are a land that is not cleansed, not rained upon (גשׁמה) in the day of indignation."