The Hebrew word ruʹach, often rendered “spirit,” can also denote air in motion, wind. (Ec 1:6) Other Hebrew terms and expressions may be translated “storm wind” (Ho 8:7), “tempest,” “whirling tempest” (Jer 25:32; 23:19), “tempestuous wind,” and “windstorm” (Ps 148:8; 2Ki 2:11). Although at John 3:8 pneuʹma (generally translated “spirit”) means “wind,” the Greek term aʹne·mos is the more frequently used designation for wind. (Mt 7:25, 27; 11:7; Joh 6:18) “The breezy part [Heb., ruʹach] of the day” apparently referred to the evening hours just before sunset, when refreshing cool breezes commonly arise in the region where the garden of Eden is thought to have been.—Ge 3:8; see SPIRIT.
Jehovah God is the Creator of the wind. (Am 4:13) Though not literally in it (1Ki 19:11; compare Job 38:1; 40:6; Ps 104:3), God can control the wind and use it to serve his purposes, as when he employed it as an agent to cause the waters of the Flood to subside. (Ge 8:1; Ex 14:21; Nu 11:31; Ps 78:26; 107:25, 29; 135:7; 147:18; Jer 10:13; Jon 1:4) His Son, when on earth, likewise displayed power to control the winds, causing them to abate. (Mt 8:23-27; 14:24-32; Mr 4:36-41; 6:48, 51; Lu 8:22-25) It was apparently only by Jehovah’s allowance that Satan was able to produce or control “a great wind” that brought death to Job’s children.—Job 1:11, 12, 18, 19.
Usually winds were named for the direction from which they came, the “east wind” blowing westward from the E. (Ex 10:13, 19; Ps 78:26; Ca 4:16) All four directions, N, S, E, and W, are embraced by references to “the four winds” of heaven or earth. (Jer 49:36; Eze 37:9; Da 8:8; Mt 24:31) At Revelation 7:1, “four angels” are depicted as “standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth.” By standing at the “corners,” the “angels” would let loose the winds obliquely from diagonal directions, sparing no quarter of the earth from the disastrous blowing of the winds.
North winds were cool and brought heavy rains. (Job 37:9; Pr 25:23) The S wind blew over hot desert areas into Palestine and, therefore, could produce a heat wave (Lu 12:55); storm winds might also originate in the S. (Isa 21:1; Zec 9:14) In the dry season, the E wind, in moving toward Egypt and Palestine, crossed vast desert areas and so was hot and dry, scorching or drying up vegetation. (Ge 41:6, 23, 27; Eze 17:7-10; compare Ho 13:15; Jon 4:8.) During the rainy season, W winds carried moisture into Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea and brought rain to the land. (1Ki 18:42-45) When observers there saw a cloud rising in the W, they could expect a storm. (Lu 12:54) In the dry summer, daily breezes from the Mediterranean made the weather more tolerable.—See CLOUD; EUROAQUILO.
Figurative Use. Winds can spring up quickly and just as quickly die down, thus appropriately representing the transitoriness of man’s life. (Job 7:7) Having no solid substance, wind can denote vain knowledge and labor, empty words and hopes (Job 15:1, 2; 16:3; Ec 5:16; Ho 12:1), as well as nothingness. (Isa 26:18; 41:29; Jer 5:13) As vain works end up in futility, pursuing them is like “striving after wind.” (Ec 1:14; 2:11) And the man who brings ostracism upon his house takes “possession of wind.” He gains nothing that is worth while or has real substance.—Pr 11:29.
Winds scatter and toss objects about, and so being ‘scattered to every wind’ or ‘divided toward the four winds’ signifies complete dispersion or division. (Jer 49:36; Eze 5:10; 12:14; 17:21; Da 11:4) Like a vessel that is tossed about by the winds, with no set course, persons lacking Christian maturity are subject to being “carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in contriving error.”—Eph 4:13, 14.