The Hebrew so rendered means "a covering," because clouds cover
the sky. The word is used as a symbol of the Divine presence, as
indicating the splendour of that glory which it conceals (Ex.
16:10; 33:9; Num. 11:25; 12:5; Job 22:14; Ps. 18:11). A "cloud
without rain" is a proverbial saying, denoting a man who does
not keep his promise (Prov. 16:15; Isa. 18:4; 25:5; Jude 1:12).
A cloud is the figure of that which is transitory (Job 30:15;
Hos. 6:4). A bright cloud is the symbolical seat of the Divine
presence (Ex.29:42, 43; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Chr. 5:14; Ezek. 43:4),
and was called the Shechinah (q.v.). Jehovah came down upon
Sinai in a cloud (Ex. 19:9); and the cloud filled the court
around the tabernacle in the wilderness so that Moses could not
enter it (Ex. 40:34, 35). At the dedication of the temple also
the cloud "filled the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:10). Thus in
like manner when Christ comes the second time he is described as
coming "in the clouds" (Matt. 17:5; 24:30; Acts 1:9, 11). False
teachers are likened unto clouds carried about with a tempest (2
Pet. 2:17). The infirmities of old age, which come one after
another, are compared by Solomon to "clouds returning after the
rain" (Eccl. 12:2). The blotting out of sins is like the sudden
disappearance of threatening clouds from the sky (Isa. 44:22).
Cloud, the pillar of, was the glory-cloud which indicated
God's presence leading the ransomed people through the
wilderness (Ex. 13:22; 33:9, 10). This pillar preceded the
people as they marched, resting on the ark (Ex. 13:21; 40:36).
By night it became a pillar of fire (Num. 9:17-23).