Former and Latter Rains

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By Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

I. Introduction

In this paper I would like to explore the calendrical and theological relationships between the spring months and the fall months, between the spring festivals and the fall festivals. Lets start by looking at Yoel (Joel) 2:23 as translated by several different versions

Yoel (Joel) 2:23 So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be glad in the \Lord\ your God; For He has given you the early rain for {your} vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and latter rain as before.

Yoel (Joel) 2:23 Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.

Yoel (Joel) 2:23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first [month].

Strong’s defines FORMER RAIN as:

4175 mowreh, mo-reh'; from 3384; an archer; also teacher or teaching; also the early rain (see 3138):-(early, former) rain.

Strong’s defines MODERATELY as:

6666 tsedaqah, tsed-aw-kaw'; from 6663; rightness (abstr.), subj. (rectitude), obj. (justice), mor. (virtue) or fig. (prosperity):- justice, moderately, right (-eous) (act, -ly, -ness).

6663 tsadaq, tsaw-dak'; a prim. root; to be (causat. make) right (in a moral or forensic sense):-cleanse, clear self, (be, do) just (-ice, -ify, -ify self), (be, turn to) righteous (-ness).

Strong’s defines LATTER RAINS as:

4456 malqowsh, mal-koshe'; from 3953; the spring rain (comp. 3954); fig. eloquence:-latter rain.
-------------- Dictionary Trace ------------------

3953 laqash, law-kash'; a prim. root; to gather the after crop:-gather.

3954 leqesh, leh'-kesh; from 3953; the after crop:-latter growth.

So, the remez of this verse indicates that the teacher of righteousness will come in the autumn! Now lets note when these rains occur during the year, according to the Talmud:

Ta'anith 5a GEMARA. R. Nahman said to R. Isaac: Does then the former rain [fall] in Nisan? The former rain surely [falls] in Marcheshvan. It has been taught: Former rain, [falls] in Marcheshvan and latter rain in Nisan.

Ta'anith 6a Our Rabbis have taught: Former rain [falls] in Marcheshvan and latter rain in Nisan. You say, Former rain in Marcheshvan and latter rain in Nisan; perhaps it is otherwise, former rain in Tishri and latter rain in Iyar? The text [therefore] adds, in its due season.[1]

The Torah records that the flood in the days of Noah began in Cheshvan (Marcheshvan):

Bereshit (Genesis) 7:10-12 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month--on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

It rained for forty days and forty nights, stopping on Kislev 28, the fourth day of Chanukah.