Tal – The Dew of Unity

by Lois Tverberg

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; – Psalm 133:1-3

In the dry land of Israel, rain doesn’t fall for six months between May and October. Between that time dew, tal, is just as essential as rain, coming nightly in the summer as the fruit is growing. Without it, the fruit will shrivel and not mature.

Because water was so important to the livelihood of the country, abundant rains were understood to be a sign of prosperity and blessing, like a good paying job with nice benefits would be today. But just like our lives, people could plan that part of the year would be bountiful with rain, and part of the year would be parched and dry. In the same way, we can count on some times of blessing and some times of want in our lives.

With those things in mind, Psalm 133:1-3 has been very meaningful to me. This verse speaks about the dew of Mt. Hermon falling on the mountains of Jerusalem. Mt. Hermon, in the north, receives enormous amounts of dew from the Mediterranean during much of the year — plants are drenched every night. Jerusalem is in the south and receives much less. But in a year that it receives a lot of dew, the fruit grows extremely well — it’s like a super-powered fertilizer has been poured on the land.

I find it fascinating that this image of abundant dew producing a bumper-crop of fruit is used to describe the effect of unity. In our individualistic culture, we tend to emphasize individual acheivement rather than learning to submit ourselves and work along side of others to acheive a greater goal. It seems that the only time we tend to do that is when we are under pressure because of lack of resources, like when the summer is very dry. But it is during this time that fruit is maturing, and when we learn to mutually submit and come together in true unity, that is when God is most able to produce an amazing bumper crop.


Further reading:

See Listening to the Language of the Bible, by Lois Tverberg and Bruce Okkema, En-Gedi Resource Center, 2004. This is a collection of devotional essays that mediate on the meaning of biblical words and phrases in their original setting.

For a friendly, bite-sized Bible study of five flavorful Hebrew words, see 5 Hebrew Words that Every Christian Should Know, by Lois Tverberg, OurRabbiJesus.com, 2014 (ebook).