Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Jonah 1:6 - 1:6

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Jonah 1:6 - 1:6

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When the danger was at its height, the upper-steersman, or ship's captain (rabh hachōbhēl, the chief of the ship's governors; chōbhēl with the article is a collective noun, and a denom. from chebhel, a ship's cable, hence the one who manages, steers, or guides the ship), wakes him with the words, “How canst thou sleep soundly? Arise, and call upon thy God; perhaps God (hâ'ĕlōhı̄m with the article, 'the true God') will think of us, that we may not perish.” The meaning of יִתְעַשֵּׁת is disputed. As עָשַׁת is used in Jer 5:28 in the sense of shining (viz., of fat), Calvin and others (last of all, Hitzig) have maintained that the hithpael has the meaning, shown himself shining, i.e., bright (propitious); whilst others, including Jerome, prefer the meaning think again, which is apparently better supported than the former, not only by the Chaldee, but also by the nouns עַשְׁתּוּת (Job 12:5) and עֶשְׁתּוֹן (Psa 146:4). God's thinking of a person involves the idea of active assistance. For the thought itself, compare Ps. 40:18. The fact that Jonah obeyed this awakening call is passed over as self-evident; and in Jon 1:7 the narrative proceeds to relate, that as the storm had not abated in the meantime, the sailors, firmly believing that some one in the ship had committed a crime which had excited the anger of God that was manifesting itself in the storm, had recourse to the lot to find out the culprit. בְּשֶׁלְּמִי = בַּאֲשֶׁר לְמִי (Jon 1:8), as שֶׁ is the vulgar, and in conversation the usual contraction for אֲשֶׁר: “on account of whom” (בַּאֲשֶׁר, in this that = because, or followed by לְ, on account of). הָרָעָה, the misfortune (as in Amo 3:6), - namely, the storm which is threatening destruction. The lot fell upon Jonah. “The fugitive is taken by lot, not from any virtue in lots themselves, least of all the lots of heathen, but by the will of Him who governs uncertain lots” (Jerome).

When Jonah had been singled out by the lot as the culprit, the sailors called upon him to confess his guilt, asking him at the same time about his country, his occupation, and his parentage. The repetition of the question, on whose account this calamity had befallen them, which is omitted in the lxx (Vatic.), the Socin. prophets, and Cod. 195 of Kennicott, is found in the margin in Cod. 384, and is regarded by Grimm and Hitzig as a marginal gloss that has crept into the text. It is not superfluous, however; still less does it occasion any confusion; on the contrary, it is quite in order. The sailors wanted thereby to induce Jonah to confess with his own mouth that he was guilty, now that the lot had fallen upon him, and to disclose his crime (Ros. and others). As an indirect appeal to confess his crime, it prepares the way for the further inquiries as to his occupation, etc. They inquired about this occupation, because it might be a disreputable one, and one which excited the wrath of the gods; also about his parentage, and especially about the land and people from which he sprang, that they might be able to pronounce a safe sentence upon his crime.