This concept of the cloud is strong and forefront in the memory of the Israelites for their long years in the desert. While the Old testament reader often focuses on desert oasis (as in Genesis 21:17-19) or the provision of water, or streams in the desert (in the Exodus narratives), the shading effect of clouds in the desert are often not told.
In Exodus 13:21-21, we had a description of God as a pillar of cloud to guide the Israelites in the desert. “20 After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travelled by day or night.”
This was repeated in Nehemiah 9:12 : 12"And with a pillar of cloud You led them by day, And with a pillar of fire by night To light for them the way In which they were to go. 19 You, in Your great compassion, Did not forsake them in the wilderness; The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, To guide them on their way,... "Indeed, forty years You provided for them and they were not in want;
“The thick main body cloud was not confined merely to the air space above the Tabernacle structure itself. Rather, it spread as a canopy over the entire nation of journeying Israelites.”
When the group reached an area where it was all surrounded by mountain ridges, and a large cloud was overhead, the place sudden cools and the comfort was hard to imagine.
Low clouds shut off the sunrays to achieve a cooling effect on the ground
(From Clearing skies https://doi.org/10.1016/S0262-4079(14)61725-5)
Once you have sat under a cloud after a hot and grueling ride among the sand ridges – the cloud will never leave your memory.
We could only ponder in awe the amazing effect of these clouds that were above the heads of the Israelites during their years in the desert when the Lord did not only guide them on their paths but acted as a shade of comfort from the unbearable scorching sun. We saw (and experienced) once more how true and astonishing the descriptions were in the Bible.
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