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I'm just curious, does anyone have any idea as to what the physical nature of the pillar of fire in Exodus 13:21-22 was? I've always imagined it as a vortex of fire (like a tornado but with fire) since that is usually how it is portrayed. Is it OK interpret the pillar as some type of fiery tornado despite the lack of that specific information in the text?

Upon doing some research I found out that the word used for pillar `ammuwd (עַמּוּד) elsewhere refers to literal pillars/columns as in the architectural structure. This appears in Judges 16:25-26,29 and where Samson is strung up between two pillars after he lost his strength.

I also looked at the outline for biblical usage of `ammuwd on BLB and found that it says "1. pillar, column; a. pillar, b. column, upright, c. column (of smoke)." This does not seem to indicate any rotation of the flow (i.e. no vortex) but I cannot be dogmatic since that information is not found in the text.

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  • Unfortunately, as asked this question invites only speculation.
    – Dan
    Jun 4 '16 at 1:19

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