on Job 38 :22
The treasures of the snow - The places where snow is formed, and the cause of that formation. See on Job 37:6 (note).
Treasures of the hail - It is more easy to account for the formation of snow than of hail. Hail, however, is generally supposed to be drops of rain frozen in their passage through cold regions of the air; and the hail is always in proportion to the size of the raindrop from which it was formed. But this meteor does not appear to be formed from a single drop of water, as it is found to be composed of many small spherules frozen together, the center sometimes soft like snow, and at other times formed of a hard nucleus, which in some cases has been of a brown color, capable of ignition and explosion. In the description given of snow, Job 37:6, it has been stated that both snow and hail owe their formation to electricity; the hail being formed in the higher regions of the air, where the cold is intense, and the electric matter abundant. By this agency it is supposed that a great number of aqueous particles are brought together and frozen, and in their descent collect other particles, so that the density of the substance of the hailstone grows less and less from the center, this being formed first in the higher regions, and the surface being collected in the lower. This theory is not in all cases supported by fact, as in some instances the center has been found soft and snow-like, when the surface has been hard. Hail is the only meteor of this kind, from which no apparent good is derived. Rain and dew invigorate and give life to the whole vegetable world; frost, by expanding the water contained in the earth, pulverizes and renders the soil fertile; snow covers and defends vegetables from being destroyed by too severe a frost; but hail does none of these. It not only does no good, but often much harm - always some. It has a chilling, blasting effect in spring and summer, and cuts the tender plants so as to injure or totally destroy them. In short, the treasures of hail are not well known; and its use in the creation has not yet been ascertained. But frost is God's universal plough, by which he cultivates the whole earth.
on Job 38 :22
Hast thou entered into the treasures of snow? - Snow is here represented as something which is laid up like treasure, and kept in reserve for use when God shall require it. Silver and gold were thus laid up for occasions when they would be wanted, and the figurative sentiment here is, that snow and hail were thus preserved for the use to which the Almighty might devote them, or for those great occasions when it would be proper to bring them forth to execute his purposes. Of course, it was to be expected that God would speak in the language which people commonly used when speaking of his works, and would not go into a philosophical or scientific explanation of the phenomena of nature. His object was not to teach science, but to produce a solemn impression of his greatness, and that is secured by such an appeal whether the laws of nature are understood or not. The simple appeal to Job here is, whether he could explain the phenomena of snow and hail?
Could he tell how they were formed? Whence they came? Where they were preserved, and how they were sent forth to execute the purposes of God? The idea is, that all that pertained to the snow was distinctly understood by God, and that these were facts which Job did not know of, and which he could not explain. The effect of time and of scientific investigation, in this as in other cases to which reference is made in this book, has been only to increase the force of this question. The effect of the discoveries which are made in the works of God is not to diminish our sense of his wisdom and majesty, but to change mere wonder to praise; to transform blind amazement to intelligent adoration. Every new discovery of a law of nature is fitted more to impress the mind with awe, and at the same time it becomes the basis of a new act of intelligent confidence in God. This is true of snow as of other things.
In the time and country of Job it came doubtless from the north. Vast quantities seemed to be poured forth from those regions at certain seasons of the year, as if it were reserved there in vast store-houses, or treasuries. Science has, however, told us that it is congealed vapor formed in the air, by the vapor being frozen there before it is collected into drops large enough to form hail. In the descent of the vapor to the earth it is frozen and descends in the numerous variety of crystallized forms in which the flakes appear. Perhaps there is nothing more fitted to excite pleasing conceptions of the wisdom of God - not even the variety of beauty in flowers - than the various forms of crystals in which snow appears. Those crystals present an almost endless variety of forms, Descartes and Dr. Hook were among the first whose minds seem to have been drawn to the figures of the crystals in snow, and since their investigations the suhject has excited great interest in others.
Captain Scoresby, who gave much attention to this subject and to other arctic phenomena, has given a delineation of 96 of these crystals. He adds, "The extreme beauty and the endless variety of the microsopic objects perceived in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, are perhaps fully equalled, if not surpassed, in both particulars of beauty and variety, by the crystals of snow. The principal configurations are the stelliform and the hexagonal; though almost every variety of shape of which the generating angle of 60 degrees and 120 degrees are susceptible, may, in the course of a few years' observation, be discovered. Some of the general varieties in the figures of the crystals may be referred to the temperature of the air; but the particular and endless modifications of the same classes of crystals can only be referred to the will and pleasure of the First Great Cause, whose works, even the most minute and evanescent, and in regions the most remote from human observation, are altogether admirable." See the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, "Snow."
Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail - As if the hail were reserved in storehouses, like the weapons of war, to be called forth when God should please, in order to execute his purposes. Hail - so well known in its nature and form - consists of masses of ice or frozen vapor, falling from the clouds in showers or storms. These masses consist of little spherules united, but not all of the same consistence; some being as hard and solid as perfect ice, others soft like frozen snow. Hail-stones assume various figures; some are round, others angular, others pyramidal, others flat, and sometimes they are stellated, with six radii, like crystals of snow - Encylopedia as quoted in Webster's Dictionary. Snow and hail are formed in the clouds when they are at an elevation where the temperature is below 32 degrees. The particles of moisture become congealed and fall to the earth. When the temperature below the clouds is more than 32 degrees, the flakes of snow often melt, and descend in the form of rain.
But hailstones, from their greater solidity and more rapid descent, often reach the earth even when the temperature is much higher; and hence, we have storms of hail in the summer. The difference in the formation of snow and hail is, that in the former case the vapor in the clouds is congealed before it is collected into drops; in the case of hail, the vapor is collected into drops or masses, and then frozen. "If we examine," says Mr. Leslie, "the structure of a hailstone, we shall perceive a snowy kernel encased by a harder crust. It has very nearly the appearance of a drop of water suddenly frozen, the particles of air being driven from the surface toward the center, where they form a spongy texture. This circumstance suggests the probable origin of hail, which is perhaps occasioned by rain falling through a dry and very cold stratum of air" - Edinburgh Encyclopedia, "Meteorology."
All the facts about the formation of hail were unknown in the time of Job, and hence, God appeals to them as evidence of his superior wisdom and greatness, and in proof of the duty of man to submit to him. These phenomena, which were constantly occurring, man could not explain; and how much less qualified, therefore, was he to sit in judgment on the secret counsels of the Almighty! The same observation may be made now, for though science has done something to explain the laws by which snow and hail are formed, yet those discoveries have tended to enlarge our conceptions of the wisdom of God, and have shown us, to an extent which was not then suspected, how much is still unknown. We see a few of the laws by which God does these things, but who is prepared to explain these laws themselves, or to tell why and how the particles of vapor arrange themselves into such beautiful crystallized forms?
Job 38:22-23.So also the same image is used in Psalm 18:13;
"The Lord also thundered in the heaven,
And the Most High gave forth his voice,
on Job 38 :22
38:22 Treasures - Dost thou know where I have laid up those vast quantities of snow and hail which I draw forth when I see fit?