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Jonah 1:5-6

Context
1:5 The sailors were so afraid that each cried out 1  to his own god 2  and they flung 3  the ship’s cargo 4  overboard 5  to make the ship lighter. 6  Jonah, meanwhile, 7  had gone down 8  into the hold 9  below deck, 10  had lain down, and was sound asleep. 11  1:6 The ship’s captain approached him and said, “What are you doing asleep? 12  Get up! Cry out 13  to your god! Perhaps your god 14  might take notice of us 15  so that we might not die!”

1 tn Heb “they cried out, each one.” The shift from the plural verb וַיִּזְעֲקוּ (vayyizaqu, “they cried out to”) to the singular subject אִישׁ (’ish, “each one”) is a rhetorical device used to emphasize that each one of the sailors individually cried out. In contrast, Jonah slept.

2 tn Or “gods” (CEV, NLT). The plural noun אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) might be functioning either as a plural of number (“gods”) or a plural of majesty (“god”) – the form would allow for either. As members of a polytheistic culture, each sailor might appeal to several gods. However, individuals could also look to a particular god for help in trouble. Tg. Jonah 1:5 interpretively renders the line, “Each man prayed to his idols, but they saw that they were useless.”

3 tn Heb “hurled.” The Hiphil of טוּל (tul, “to hurl”) is again used, repeated from v. 4.

4 tn The plural word rendered “cargo” (כֵּלִים, kelim) is variously translated “articles, vessels, objects, baggage, instruments” (see 1 Sam 17:22; 1 Kgs 10:21; 1 Chr 15:16; Isa 18:2; Jer 22:7). As a general term, it fits here to describe the sailors throwing overboard whatever they could. The English word “cargo” should be taken generally to include the ship’s payload and whatever else could be dispensed with.

5 tn Heb “into the sea.”

6 tn Heb “to lighten it from them.”

7 tn Heb “but Jonah.” The disjunctive construction of vav + nonverb followed by nonpreterite (וְיוֹנָה יָרַד, vÿyonah yarad; “but Jonah had gone down…”) introduces a parenthetical description of Jonah’s earlier actions before the onset of the storm.

8 tn Following a vav-disjunctive introducing parenthetical material, the suffixed-conjugation verb יָרַד (yarad) functions as a past perfect here: “he had gone down” (see IBHS 490-91 §30.5.2). This describes Jonah’s previous actions before the onset of the storm.

9 tn Or “stern.” There is some question whether the term יַרְכָה (yarkhah) refers to the ship’s hold below deck (R. S. Hess, NIDOTTE 3:282) or to the stern in the back of the ship (HALOT 439 s.v. *יְרֵכָה 2.b). This is the only use of this term in reference to a ship in biblical Hebrew. When used elsewhere, this term has a two-fold range of meanings: (1) “rear,” such as rear of a building (Exod 26:22, 27; 36:27, 32; Ezek 46:19), back room of a house (1 Kgs 6:16; Ps 128:3; Amos 6:10), flank of a person’s body (figurative for rear border; Gen 49:13); and (2) “far part” that is remote, such as the back of a cave (1 Sam 24:4), the bottom of a cistern (Isa 14:15), the lower recesses of Sheol (Ezek 32:23), the remotest part of a mountain range (Judg 19:1, 18; 2 Kgs 19:23; Isa 37:24), the highest summit of a mountain (Ps 48:3), and the north – viewed as the remotest part of the earth (Isa 14:13; Ezek 38:6, 15; 39:2). So the term could refer to the “back” (stern) or “remote part” (lower cargo hold) of the ship. The related Akkadian expression arkat eleppi, “stern of a ship” (HALOT 439 s.v. 2.b) seems to suggest that יַרְכָה means “stern” (HALOT 439 s.v. 2.b). However, the preceding יָרַד אֶל (yaradel, “he went down into”) suggests a location below deck. Also the genitive noun סְפִינָה (sÿfinah) refers to a “ship” with a deck (BDB 706 s.v. סְפִינָה; HALOT 764 s.v. סְפִינָה; R. S. Hess, NIDOTTE 3:282).

10 tn Or “of the ship.” The noun סְפִינָה (sÿfinah) refers to a “ship” with a deck (HALOT 764 s.v. סְפִינָה). The term is a hapax legomenon in Hebrew and is probably an Aramaic loanword. The term is used frequently in the related Semitic languages to refer to ships with multiple decks. Here the term probably functions as a synecdoche of whole for the part, referring to the “lower deck” rather than to the ship as a whole (R. S. Hess, NIDOTTE 3:282). An outdated approach related the noun to the verb סָפַן (safan, “to cover”) and suggested that סְפִינָה describes a ship covered with sheathing (BDB 706 s.v. סְפִינָה).

11 tn The a-class theme vowel of וַיֵּרָדַם (vayyeradam) indicates that this is a stative verb, describing the resultant condition of falling asleep: “was sound asleep.”

12 tn Heb “What to you sleeping!” The Niphal participle נִרְדָּם (nirdam) from רָדַם (radam, “to sleep”) functions here not as a vocative use of the noun (so KJV, NKJV, ASV: “O sleeper,” RSV: “you sleeper”) but as a verbal use to depict uninterrupted sleep up to this point. The expression מַה־לְּךָ (mah-lÿkha, “what to you?”) can express surprise (BDB 552 s.v. מָה 1.a; e.g., Job 9:12; 22:12; Eccl 8:4; Isa 45:9,10) or indignation and contempt (BDB 552 s.v. מָה 1.c; e.g., 1 Kgs 19:9, 13). Accordingly, the captain is either surprised that Jonah is able to sleep so soundly through the storm (NIV “How can you sleep?”; JPS, NJPS “How can you be sleeping so soundly?”; NEB, REB “What, sound asleep?”) or indignant that Jonah would sleep in a life-threatening situation when he should be praying (CEV “How can you sleep at a time like this?”; NAB “What are you doing [+ sound NRSV] asleep?”; NJB: “What do you mean by sleeping?”).

13 tn Heb “cry out” or “call upon.” The verb קָרָא (qara’, “to call out, to cry out”) + the preposition אֶל (’el, “to”) often depicts a loud, audible cry of prayer to God for help in the midst of trouble: “to call on, to shout to” (HALOT 1129 s.v. קרא 9.b; BDB 895 s.v. קָרָא 2.a; e.g., Judg 15:18; 1 Sam 12:17, 18; 2 Sam 22:7; Hos 7:7; Pss 3:4 [5 HT]; 4:3 [4 HT]). Jonker notes: “The basic meaning of qr’ is to draw attention to oneself by the audible use of one’s voice in order to establish contact with someone else. The reaction of the called person is normally expressed by the verbs…‘answer’ and…‘hear’” (L. Jonker, NIDOTTE 3:971).

sn The imperatives “arise!” and “cry out!” are repeated from v. 2 for ironic effect. The captain’s words would have rung in Jonah’s ears as a stinging reminder that the Lord had uttered them once before. Jonah was hearing them again because he had disobeyed them before.

14 tn Heb “the god.” The article on הָאֱלֹהִים (haelohim) denotes previous reference to אֱלֹהֶיךָ (’elohekha, “your god”; see IBHS 242-43 §13.5.1d). The captain refers here to the “god” just mentioned, that is, whatever god Jonah might pray to (“your god”).

15 tn Or “give thought to us.” The verb is found only here in the OT. Related nouns are in Job 12:5 and Ps 146:5. The captain hopes for some favorable attention from a god who might act on behalf of his endangered crewmen.



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