Does it snow in Jerusalem?

People have occasionally asked me if Jerusalem ever gets snow. I’ve only visited in spring and summer but can tell you for a fact that it does snow there.

A good snowfall and accumulation in Jerusalem in early March, 2012. (Photo by Peter Hagyo-Kovacs. Used with permission.)

The city usually receives some light snow every winter. Substantial snowfall like that in the photo happens every few years on average.

Jerusalem is barely below 32° N latitude, comparable to southern Georgia/Alabama in the United States. Jerusalem receives more snow than these U.S. regions due to its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and to its elevation. Jerusalem sits in the mountains of Judea at an elevation of ca. 2400-2500 feet (ca. 754 meters) above sea level.

A quick search shows that the word “snow” is found 23-25 times in English Bible versions, depending on the translation. Psalms and Proverbs contain multiple references to snow. Isaiah was clearly familiar with it judging by his references in 1:18 and 55:10.

We also have a curious snow-related detail in a story about one of King David’s warriors:

Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two heroes [or, "ariels"] of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. (2 Samuel 23:20 and 1 Chronicles 11:22, ESV)

I wonder if “snowmen” were known in the Iron Age period?

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About lukechandler

I am a minister in Temple Terrace, Florida, and hold an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History. My lovely wife Melanie and I have five children. Besides Gospel work in English and Spanish I participate in archaeological excavations and occasionally lead tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
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