Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Jonah 1:13 - 1:13

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Jonah 1:13 - 1:13

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But the men (the seamen) do not venture to carry out this sentence at once. They try once more to reach the land and escape from the storm, which is threatening them with destruction, without so serious a sacrifice. יַחְתְּרוּ, lit., they broke through, sc. through the waves, to bring (the ship) back to the land, i.e., they tried to reach the land by rowing and steering. Châthar does not mean to row, still less to twist or turn round (Hitzig), but to break through; here to break through the waves, to try to overcome them, to which the παρεβιάζοντο of the lxx points. As they could not accomplish this, however, because the sea continued to rage against them (סֹעֵר עֲלֵיהֶם, was raging against them), they prayed thus to Jehovah: “We beseech Thee, let us not (אָנָּא = אַל־נָא) perish for the sake of the soul of this man (בְּנֶפֶשׁ, lit., for the soul, as in 2Sa 14:7 after Deu 19:21), and lay not upon us innocent blood,” - that is to say, not “do not let us destroy an innocent man in the person of this man” (Hitzig), but, according to Deu 21:8, “do not impute his death to us, if we cast him into the sea, as bloodguiltiness deserving death;” “for Thou, O Jehovah, hast done as it pleased Thee,” - namely, inasmuch as, by sending the storm and determining the lot, Thou hast so ordained that we must cast him into the sea as guilty, in order to expiate Thy wrath. They offer this prayer, not because they have no true conception of the guilt of Jonah, who is not a murderer or blasphemer, inasmuch as according to their notions, he is not a sinner deserving death (Hitzig), but because they regard Jonah as a prophet or servant of the Almighty God, upon whom, from fear of his God, they do not venture to lay their hand. “We see, therefore, that although they had never enjoyed the teaching of the law, they had been so taught by nature, that they knew very well that the blood of man was dear to God, and precious in His sight” (Calvin).