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Jonah 1:7

Context
1:7 The sailors said to one another, 1  “Come on, let’s cast lots 2  to find out 3  whose fault it is that this disaster has overtaken us. 4 ” So they cast lots, and Jonah was singled out. 5 

1 tn Heb “And they said, a man to his companion.” The plural verb is individualized by “a man.”

2 sn The English word lots is a generic term. In some cultures the procedure for “casting lots” is to “draw straws” so that the person who receives the short straw is chosen. In other situations a colored stone or a designated playing card might be picked at random. In Jonah’s case, small stones were probably used.

3 sn In the ancient Near East, casting lots was a custom used to try to receive a revelation from the gods about a particular situation. The Phoenician sailors here cried out to their gods and cast lots in the hope that one of their gods might reveal the identity of the person with whom he was angry. CEV has well captured the sentiment of v.7b: “‘Let’s ask our gods to show us who caused all this trouble.’ It turned out to be Jonah.”

4 tn Heb “On whose account this calamity is upon us.”

5 tn Heb “the lot fell on Jonah.” From their questions posed to Jonah, it does not appear that the sailors immediately realize that Jonah was the one responsible for the storm. Instead, they seem to think that he is the one chosen by their gods to reveal to them the one responsible for their plight. It is only after he admits in vv. 9-10 that he was fleeing from the God whom he served that they realize that Jonah was in fact the cause of their trouble.



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