The 4 Winds

The 4 Winds of

are used in scripture to represent something important. 

EAST  

There's plenty of Biblical evidence to show that the East is used to represent the presence of God.  Hebrew has two words that are related to "east".  There's Mizrah and Qedem/Kedem.    Mizrah literally means "from the place where the sun rises".  The East is the location the sun rises from, which is a symbol of Jesus, who is the Light of The World (Revelation 22:16), which rises from the East and sets in the West.  Jesus will return from the East since "as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:27)  Thus in Matt 24:27, the East is where He is, the West is where He's going.   When God sent out the horses of Zechariah 6, they went North, West and South.  They didn't go East, because they came from the presence of God, and the East is used to represent where God dwells.  The Garden of Eden, where God dwelled, was located in the "east" (Gen 2:8), and Ezekiel noted "I saw the glory of the LORD coming from the East" in Ezek 43:2-4.

And then there's the dreaded "East Wind".  In the OT, an "East Wind" is always depicted as punishment sent from God.  If a strong wind came from any other direction, it was considered an act of nature.  But if it came from the East, it was dreaded since it could be coming from God and therefore be His Wrath in motion. The "west wind" reversed that punishment in Exodus 10:19.  See Hosea 13:15, Exodus 10:13, Exodus 14:21, Jonah 4:8, for only a few examples of many others where a Wind coming from the East was considered to have come from God.  In Song of Solomon 4:16, the North and South Winds were used to spur God's interest in His bride / dove.

Man was sent "eastward" many times when he was punished.  But what this represents is how God's punishment was intended to drive man towards God.  It was God's intent in punishing man that man learn important lessons that would help him recognize the value of being with God.    For examples of God using punishment to drive man to Him, see Amos 4:10 and Haggai 2:17, which says, "I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,' declares the LORD."  what God does He does out of love.  When He punishes us, it's to drive us to Him not away from Him.  This is symbolized by sending man East when he is punished rather than sending him west or north.  

The East represents the presence or person of God.  The West, the things that come from God.  The South is the location of man or the things that are from a source other than God. 

"Kedem" means Eastward or Eastern, emphasizing direction, rather than location.  Mizrah or East emphasizes the location itself.  It shares the same root as the hebrew words for "front", "welcome" and "ancient".  The Hebrew words for "South" can also mean "Right" and "North" shares root with "Left", thus the Holy Language seems to use these directional words in such a way as to speak to us that our point of reference is to be facing East, which is facing towards God / the Ancient of Days, with the South to our right and the North to our left.  Because of this, it can be difficult to understand the 4 winds reading some translations in English.  The NIV often translates "Left" as "North" or "South" as "Right".  I'm not even sure the KJV got it right every time on this one.  If you want to do a word study on the 4 winds, consult the original Hebrew texts.  

When Israel marched to war or set out to march for any reason, it was always the tribes who camped in the east that led the way, followed by the southern tribes, then the western, then the northern.  This represents how God, depicted as being present in the East, should lead the way.  Man, centered in the South, follows closely behind

There is a connection made between the "East" and the presence of God in Jewish tradition that is recorded in the Zohar. In the Zohar on Bereshit, circa 75b to 76, that interprets the verse in Genesis/Bereshit about the men of Babylon journeying "fron the east" this way...

"they journeyed miQDM" (From the eternal), which means that they proceeded downwards, from the above to below, from Eretz Yisrael to Babel."

and the Zohar then records R Hiya as saying MQDM means "away from the Ancient One" or "Ancient of Days".

 

SOUTH  

There are several words for "South" including "Deromi", "Negev", and "Taymen" / "Yemen".  All of these may not have spiritual significance.  "Negev" refers to the desert area south of Israel.  Perhaps it represents how everything not from God is a wasteland.  But that's not the only context the "south" is discussed in.  "Yemen" can also mean "right hand".  Again, another picture of how we're always facing East in Hebrew. In Song of Solomon 4:16, the North and South Winds were used to spur God's interest in His bride / dove.  One Jewish Targum of Joshua 15:19 says "The earth is the south."

WEST  

The Hebrew word "Ma'arav" means "from the place of evening" or "from the place of Mixing" or in other words, from the place where day light mixes with darkness and day mixes/turns into night.  Like East, it's identified by the direction of the sun.  It represents things that come from God, which may or may not be mixed with other things.   Another word sometimes translated as "West" is "Yamah" which literally means "seaward" or towards the direction of the Sea (Mediteranian).  But if you were somewhere other than Israel, "seaward" may not mean "westward" to you.  I have some notes that says the KJV mistranslates "Yamah" as "westward" 70 times, instead of the more literally correct "seaward".  What was wrong with "Seaward"?  Why couldn't they give us the same mental picture as those reading the Hebrew texts?  My notes also say the KJV mistranslates this as "southern" in one place - a total error.  So don't trust any english translation on this.  

NORTH  

The Hebrew word for "North" is "Tzafon" which is spelled identical to the way the Hebrew word for "hidden" is spelled.  Quite often in Hebrew, when two words are spelled the same way but pronounced differently, one is a symbol of the other. Thus we expect the "North" to either represent the things that come from the "south", if we apply an interpretation consistent with what we know from the East-West line. Or it could also possibly refer to the place of the "unknown", based on the Hebrew word used to describe it.

The TWELVE TRIBES  

The Twelve tribes also give us a picture of these things.  In the wilderness, here's where they camped.    

EASTERN TRIBES The 3 Eastern tribes were Judah, Zebulon and Isachar.  Zebulon means "dwelling", thus we see here a connection between the East and the presence of God.  "Judah" means "praise" and we know that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalms 22:3), thus again, we see a tribe in the East connected with the presence of God. Isachar means "reward" and this can also speak to us of a proximity to God's presence since Revelation 22:12 says, "My reward is with me."  
SOUTHERN TRIBES The 3 Southern tribes were Rueben, Simeon and Gad.   Rueben means "See a son" and the tribe of Rueben represents what happens when we focus on the things that come from man rather than man himself.  Simeon means "one who hears" and Gad means "good fortune" or "troop".
WESTERN TRIBES Ephraim means "doubly fruitfull", thus we see something coming from God associated with a Western tribe. Manessah means "causing to forget", which makes me think of Psalms 103:12, which says "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us".  Indeed, it was appropriate to put this tribe in the West, the direction where day mixes into night, for it's this forgetting of our sins that enables us to stand before God.  A mixing indeed! Benjamin means Son of "Yemen" which means "right hand" or "south". Now the West is the place of "Mixing" and here we see a perfect picture of a mixing of things from the South (via Benjamin) and thing from the East via the tribes of Joseph.
NORTHERN TRIBES Naphtali means "my struggle".  Dan means "judge" or "vindicate". Asher means "happy".

Above is the order they were in during the wilderness journey, which we all understand to be a type of our spiritual journey.  They had a different ordering along directional lines in the temple and in the promised land.  These indeed have deeper meanings as well, but I'll have to save that for later in that this discussion is already long enough. 

The following diagram helps illustrates a summarization of what we've seen so far:

So we see here an illustration wherein the things that come from God move in a straight line from East to West. Man was created in the image of God, and the things of man would move in a straight line until they reach the things of God. God's plan is for man to agree with God, which is represented by the things coming from man mixing with the things coming from God and ending up in the same place, thus we have a "mixing" of the two.

If you have any comments to add to this, feel free to Email me.