Proverbs 25:23

The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.

The north wind driveth away rain,.... So the geographer {w} says, the swift north wind drives away the moist clouds; which usually come from the opposite quarter, the south. The word used has the signification of conceiving, and begetting, and bringing forth; hence some {x} render it to a different sense, and so the Targum,

"the north wind bringeth forth rain;''

and in this sense Gersom interprets it, and says,

"the north wind produces rain in Jerusalem, because it brings there the vapours that ascend from the sea, which lies north unto it;''

and the philosopher {y} says, that in the northern parts of the world the south wind produces rain; and in the southern parts the north wind produces it, as in Judea. But in Job 37:22, fair, fine, golden, serene, "weather", is said to "come out of the north"; agreeably to which, the north wind is by Homer {z} called aiyrhgenethv, the producer of serene weather; and by Virgil {a} "clarus aquilo", i.e. what makes serene. The Arabic version reads it, "the south wind"; and that does bring rain, and, as that version has it, excites the clouds. But the first reading and sense of the words seem best {b}, and agree with what follows:

so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue; drives it away, discourages and silences it. When a man puts on a stern countenance, a frowning and angry look, on such who bring him slanderous reports and idle tales of their neighbours, and reproach and backbite them, it checks them, and puts a stop to their practices; whereas listening to them, and especially with an air of pleasure, encourages them in them; were there not so many that take pleasure in hearing those talebearers and backbiters, were they more roughly dealt with, as the blustering north wind does with the rain, there would not be so much of this evil practised.

{w} Dionysii Perieg. v. 532.
{x} llwxt "parturiet", Montanus; "gignit", Junius & Tremellius; "parturit", Schultens.
{y} Aristot. Metaphysic. l. 2.
{z} Iliad. 19. v. 358. Odyss. 5. v. 295.
{a} Georgic. l. 1. prope finem.
{b} "Ventorum frigidissimi quos a septentrione diximus spirare, et reliquos compescunt, et nubes abigunt", Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 47.