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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jonah 1:7

 

 

Each man said to his mate, "Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us." So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Come, and let us cast lots - This was a very ancient mode of endeavoring to find out the mind of Divine Providence; and in this case it proves that they supposed the storm to have arisen on account of some hidden crime of some person aboard.

A philosopher being at sea in a violent storm. when the crew began to call earnestly to the gods for safety, he said, "Be silent, and cease your prayers; for should the gods know that you are here, we shall all be lost."

The lot fell upon Jonah - In this case God directed the lot.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jonah-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Come, and let us cast lots - Jonah too had probably prayed, and his prayers too were not heard. Probably, too, the storm had some unusual character about it, the suddenness with which it burst upon them, its violence, the quarter from where it came, its whirlwind force. “They knew the nature of the sea, and, as experienced sailors, were acquainted with the character of wind and storm, and had these waves been such as they had known before, they would never have sought by lot for the author of the threatened wreck, or, by a thing uncertain, sought to escape certain peril.” God, who sent the storm to arrest Jonah and to cause him to be cast into the sea, provided that its character should set the mariners on divining, why it came. Even when working great miracles, God brings about, through man, all the forerunning events, all but the last act, in which He puts forth His might. As, in His people, he directed the lot to fall upon Achan or upon Jonathan, so here He overruled the lots of the pagan sailors to accomplish His end. “ We must not, on this precedent, immediately trust in lots, or unite with this testimony that from the Acts of the Apostles, when Matthias was by lot elected to the apostolate, since the privileges of individuals cannot form a common law.” “Lots,” according to the ends for which they were cast, were for:

i) dividing;

ii) consulting;

iii) divining.

i) The lot for dividing is not wrong if not used,

1) “without any necessity, for this would be to tempt God:”

2) “if in case of necessity, not without reverence of God, as if Holy Scripture were used for an earthly end,” as in determining any secular matter by opening the Bible:

3) for objects which ought to be decided otherwise, (as, an office ought to be given to the fittest:)

4) in dependence upon any other than God Proverbs 16:33. “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing of it is the Lord‘s.” So then they are lawful “in secular things which cannot otherwise be conveniently distributed,” or when there is no apparent reason why, in any advantage or disadvantage, one should be preferred to another.” Augustine even allows that, in a time of plague or persecution, the lot might be cast to decide who should remain to administer the sacraments to the people, lest, on the one side, all should be taken away, or, on the other, the Church be deserted.

ii.) The lot for consulting, i. e., to decide what one should do, is wrong, unless in a matter of mere indifference, or under inspiration of God, or in some extreme necessity where all human means fail.

iii.) The lot for divining, i. e., to learn truth, whether of things present or future, of which we can have no human knowledge, is wrong, except by direct inspiration of God. For it is either to tempt God who has not promised so to reveal things, or, against God, to seek superhuman knowledge by ways unsanctioned by Him. Satan may readily mix himself unknown in such inquiries, as in mesmerism. Forbidden ground is his own province.

God overruled the lot in the case of Jonah, as He did the sign which the Philistines sought. “He made the heifers take the way to Bethshemesh, that the Philistines might know that the plague came to them, not by chance, but from Hilmself”. “The fugitive (Jonah) was taken by lot, not by any virtue of the lots, especially the lots of pagan, but by the will of Him who guided the uncertain lots” “The lot betrayed the culprit. Yet not even thus did they cast him over; but, even while such a tumult and storm lay on them, they held, as it were, a court in the vessel, as though in entire peace, and allowed him a hearing and defense, and sifted everything accurately, as men who were to give account of their judgment. Hear them sifting all as in a court - The roaring sea accused him; the lot convicted and witnessed against him, yet not even thus did they pronounce against him - until the accused should be the accuser of his own sin. The sailors, uneducated, untaught, imitated the good order of courts. When the sea scarcely allowed them to breathe, whence such forethought about the prophet? By the disposal of God. For God by all this instructed the prophet to be humane and mild, all but saying aloud to him; ‹Imitate these uninstructed sailors. They think not lightly of one soul, nor are unsparing as to one body, thine own. But thou, for thy part, gavest up a whole city with so many myriads. They, discovering thee to be the cause of the evils which befell them, did not even thus hurry to condemn thee. Thou, having nothing whereof to accuse the Ninevites, didst sink and destroy them. Thou, when I bade thee go and by thy preaching call them to repentance, obeyedst not; these, untaught, do all, compass all, in order to recover thee, already condemned, from punishment.‘“


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jonah-1.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Jonah 1:7

Let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.

Conditions to be observed in casting lots

1. We must never fall to lottery but when necessity enforceth us: all other lawful means must be first assayed.

2. We must use great reverence and religiousness in the action. Holy things must be done in a holy manner.

3. We must avoid impiety and idolatry therein, ascribing the event of our wishes neither to the stars nor to any other celestial body, which cannot want the ingestion and intermeddling of devils.

4. We must not apply the oracles of God in His sacred Scriptures to our earthly, temporary, and transitory losses.

5. The ends of our lots must be respected; the honour of God, as the moderator of all such ambiguities; the furnishing of His Church, if two or more be fit, with the fitter; the preserving of justice; the avoidance of greater mischiefs.

6. We must eschew all fraud and deceit in permitting our causes to heavenly arbitrament. (Bishop John King.)

The lot

In the proposal of the sailors, though superstition seems to have dictated it, I perceive an implied recognition of the agency of God in the storm. They considered their present distress as a visitation from God. And in this they judged truly. Storms do take place under the direction of Divine providence. I perceive, further, the operation of natural conscience in these heathen men; for they believe not only that it was God who sent the storm, but that the storm was the evident token of His displeasure on account of sin. Sin indeed is the great cause of all the evils with which mankind are afflicted. The conscience of the sinner may at other times be lulled into a false peace, but the pressure of great calamity, or the fear of its approach, rouses it from its slumber. In this case, the conscience of these heathen, though not enlightened by revelation, accused them. There is, however, no direct evidence that these mariners were impressed, severally, each with a conviction of his own sins in particular. Every man looked away from himself, as if he were blameless, and turned his thoughts towards some other of the company as the guilty cause of the storm which threatened their destruction. Besides, they were ill-informed respecting the administration of Divine providence towards sinners in this present world. They seem to have thought that the sufferings which befall men in this life are in exact proportion to the measure of their iniquities. This was the error of Job’s friends. The sailors considered the storm as a special visitation inflicted because of some more than ordinarily aggravated transgression, committed by some unknown individual among them. So they appealed to God by lot, in order to discover the Guilty person. The whole business of the sailors casting lots must be ascribed to their ignorance and superstition. We should err were we to judge of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of actions merely by their event; and God is often pleased to employ for His purposes the ignorance and folly of men. (James Peddie, D. D.)

And the lot fell upon Jonah.

Finding the guilty one

God will certainly find out the Jonah that causeth the storm. The guilty person shall not always go undiscovered.

I. Persons under guilt may go a long time undiscovered. Some men’s hidden works of darkness are sooner brought to light than others.

II. Some men’s sins are not discovered until they come to the great reckoning, the great audit day. “Some men’s sins are open beforehand to judgment, and some men they follow after.” Then the hidden things of darkness that escape discovery now will all be brought to light; and what if you he hid here, this will but harden you: whereas a discovery might be a means to awaken you and bring you to repentance.

III. Some men’s guilt comes under more dreadful aggravations than others. Ordinarily, the more aggravations that men’s sins are clothed with, the sooner will God lay them open to a discovery.

IV. Upon their discovery they either grow worse and are hardened, or they are deeply humbled. Jonah, upon his dis covery, acknowledges and accepts the punishment of his iniquity. Now we inquire, What ways and means doth God take for the discovery of guilty persons?

1. By pursuing them with the terrors of conscience.

2. By sending judgments and afflictions after them.

3. By suffering them to fall into some notorious sin.

4. By giving the guilty person up to some gross and notorious error.

5. By causing the power and authority of the Word to seize upon them and arrest them.

6. By wonderful providences.

7. By bringing them to heart and con science examination.

By such discovery of guilty persons God gets Himself a name. A name for His justice, wisdom, omniscience, omnipresence, and also for His Word and truth. Why will the Lord discover guilt? To bring poor souls to shame, and so to repentance, and all this while He hath a design of love to the soul in the discovery. Because He will have some persons made cautions and examples to others. That the world may know of His displeasure against sin. That the rottenness of many hearts may appear, and they may no longer go on to deceive others. (John Ryther.)

The discovery

Let sinners conceal themselves as they may, their transgressions will sooner or later assuredly discover them.

I. Sin may be long concealed from the eye of man. There is, indeed, a gracious covering provided for the sins of believers. There is also a charitable concealment to which in many instances we are bound; but this regards the transgressions of others. But there is a covering which is not of God’s Spirit; a concealment by which sinners are encouraged to “add sin to sin.” This is worn sometimes in the form of delusion, and then sinners deceive themselves. At other times they wear their covering in the broad and ostensible form of hypocrisy. Ought every transgression to be avowed, however secret Were it viewed in relation to God we should say absolutely that it is hypocrisy to conceal. What are the cases where, in obedience to the Scripture, we are conscientiously bound to confess our faults, not only to God, but also in the presence of one another?

1. Such disclosure would be necessary when, in exercise of lawful authority, the sinner may be regularly called.

2. Disclosure of secret offences is required where, in their consequences, they may implicate others.

3. The interests of the Divine honour, not unfrequently, may require it. The honour of Divine grace is by such confession promoted.

II. All sins, even the most secret, shall be eventually revealed. Sentence against an evil work is not at all times speedily executed. But delay does not secure final impunity. As there can be no hiding-place to the impenitent, neither shall any species, any degree of transgression escape.

III. There are certain kinds of transgression which the wisdom of the Divine government reveals, and its justice generally avenges, even in our present state of being.

1. The general characters by which such sins are distinguished.

2. God is in no want of instruments for the discovery of the concealed transgressor.

3. For what purposes are these discoveries made?


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Jonah 1:7". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/jonah-1.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"And they said every one to his fellow, Come and let us cast lots that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah."

A few commentators wish to make a miracle of this; but since it has to be true that the lot had to fall upon someone, and since it certainly could have fallen upon Jonah "by chance," we shall not construe this as any kind of miracle comparable to the others in this book. Besides that, the sailors themselves did not rely entirely upon the lot, even though it fell upon Jonah, basing their subsequent actions upon Jonah's confession, rather than upon the uncertainty of the lot. Yes, the Scriptures reveal that even the apostles f relied upon the casting of lots in their selection of Matthias to succeed Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:26); but in that case, the lots were cast after the apostles had earnestly prayed unto God to show by that manner who was chosen. No such prayer to the true God occurred in this instance. Of course, today, there is no need for the casting of lots on the part of them who have the Word of God, after "that which is perfect has come."

This verse apparently presupposes that Jonah had indeed prayed unto "his God," but that his prayer had not been answered any more than the prayers of the heathen, hence their concern with casting lots to expose the guilty party.

There is in the verse a strong example of the almost universal conviction that sin is connected with all human disasters. The citizens of Malta thought that Paul must have been a murderer because he was bitten by a poisonous serpent (Acts 28:4); and even the apostles supposed that the man born blind had experienced such a tragedy due either to his own sin, or that of his parents (John 9:2). Although in specific instances, such conclusions may be absolutely inaccurate, the principle, nevertheless is profoundly true; and that terrible storm which threatened the destruction of Jonah's vessel is a prime example of such a thing.

"The lot fell upon Jonah ..." Whether by providence or by chance, the lot left Jonah defenseless before his accusers; and he at once accepted the blame as indeed pertaining to himself alone.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/jonah-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And they said everyone to his fellow,.... That Jonah awoke and rose up, upon the shipmaster's calling to him, is certain; but whether or no he called upon his God is not; perhaps he did: and when his prayer was over, and the storm still continuing, the sailors said one to another,

come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us; for, Observing something very uncommon and extraordinary in the tempest, and all means, both natural and religious, failing to help them; and though they might know that they were each one of them sinners, yet they supposed there must be some one notorious sinner among them, that had committed some very enormous crime, which had drawn the divine resentment upon them to such a degree; and therefore they proposed to cast a lot, which was an appeal to the divine Being, in order to find out the guilty person. That the Heathens used the lot upon occasion is not only manifest from profane writers, but from the sacred Scriptures; as Haman, and other enemies of God's people; and the soldiers that attended the cross of Christ, Esther 9:24 Nahum 3:10. Drusius reports, from Xavierus, of some Heathens sailing to Japan, and other places in the East Indies, that they used to carry an idol with them, and by lots inquire of it whither they should go; and whether they should have prosperous winds, &c.

so they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah; through the overruling providence and disposing hand of God, which attended this affair; for, not to inquire whether the use of the lot was lawful or not, or whether performed in that serious and solemn manner as it should be, if used at all; it pleased God to interfere in this matter, to direct it to fall on Jonah, with whom he had a particular concern, being a prophet of his, and having disobeyed his will; see Proverbs 16:33. The Syriac version renders it, "the lot of Jonah came up"; that is, the piece of paper, or whatever it was, on which his name was written, was taken up first out of the vessel in which the lots were put.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jonah-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast i lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil [is] upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

(i) Which declares that the matter was very extreme and in doubt, which was God's way of getting them to test for the cause: and this may not be done except in matters of great importance.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jonah-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

cast lots — God sometimes sanctioned this mode of deciding in difficult cases. Compare the similar instance of Achan, whose guilt involved Israel in suffering, until God revealed the offender, probably by the casting of lots (Proverbs 16:33; Acts 1:26). Primitive tradition and natural conscience led even the heathen to believe that one guilty man involves all his associates, though innocent, in punishment. So Cicero [The Nature of the Gods, 3.37] mentions that the mariners sailing with Diagoras, an atheist, attributed a storm that overtook them to his presence in the ship (compare Horace‘s Odes, 3.2.26).


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jonah-1.html. 1871-8.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL NOTES.]

Jon . Lots] A heathen mode of decision, often permitted by God. "Lots were for

(1) dividing;

(2) consulting;

(3) divining" [Pusey]. Fell upon] Pro .

HOMILETICS

IS THERE NOT A CAUSE?—Jon

When great judgments happen there must be great guilt. When a nation, city, or family is brought into danger, it is wise to inquire into the cause. Here we notice—

I. Social danger caused by individual sin. Nature teaches a connection between sin and suffering. They are bound together under God's government. The connection is not casual. All misery is the result of sin. But while each individual stands for himself, he is also related to others. Nations suffer for the sins of rulers; families, for the sins of parents; and the crew for the sins of its passenger. "This man perished not alone in his iniquity."

II. Social danger prompting social sympathy. "They said one to another, Come." Great calamity begets great sympathy. Common sufferings knit kindred feelings and hearts in one. "There was no independent member, no mutinous spirit amongst the crew," says Mr Exell; "no one suggested another way of relief; all, as though animated by one common impulse, at once accept this test of innocence."

III. Social danger removed by the providence of God. "Nature forces on our heart a Creator, history a providence," says Richter. In this narrative we discern the power of God over the elements of nature and the destinies of men.

1. Providence over the phenomena of nature. The storm—no ordinary one—was traced to a cause. The mariners, though not true believers, were not atheists. Their gods could do nothing; perhaps Jonah's God could help them, whom they called "the God." Jonah is reproved for want of devotion to him and lackness of duty to his fellow-passengers in peril. Among heathen nations there was a general admission of one supreme ruler over earth and sea; a remnant of the primitive knowledge by which Jehovah left not himself without a witness.

2. Providence over the conduct of men. There must be a cause for this evil; they must find it out, and if possible remove it. They believe some one is guilty, and do not expect that the culprit will tell of himself. They appeal to the higher power, in the only way they know, by lot. The evil is thought of, and not so much the storm. Behind natural phenomena, law, sequence, or cause, they discern moral designs. Man cannot escape his God—(a) In discovering their guilt. Jonah expected to escape, but was found out and his guilt made known. No darkness nor distance can hide the sinner. Murder will out; and it is true in a measure with all sin. Sin tries to deceive with secrecy and then betrays to others. "There is nothing that shall not be revealed." "God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing." (b) In deciding their destiny. No event can escape the eye of God, and no step in life be taken without his permission. God overruled the lot, and it fell upon Jonah. How completely are we in the hands of God. Believers trying to forget neglect of duty, and unbelievers refusing to follow Christ, can hide nothing from his all-searching eye. "My times are in thy hand." "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord."

CASTING LOTS.—Jon

The mariners have now recourse to other means of safety than their exertions or prayers.—Observe in their conduct, First, both the power and defectiveness of conscience. They saw themselves deserving of Divine anger; yet each thought himself less guilty than his fellow. The lanthorn light of conscience in a natural man, gives a general view of some prominent truths sufficient to cause him to pass sentence of condemnation on himself, but it searches not the soul's recesses, so as to show sin in its extent and sinfulness. Ignorance and pride are impenetrable, and these effects are produced by the powerful aid of the Spirit. When that shines into the soul, a man will make St Paul's confession his own. Secondly, the light of nature. As conscience shined inwardly, so this outwardly, testifying to a connection between guilt and punishment (Act ). They saw in the tempest an extraordinary judgment, and surmised (rightly) an extraordinary cause. Perhaps herein the light of nature was aided by that of tradition and some faint glimmerings of Scriptural truth. We are very slow to admit a connection between sin and suffering. We are apt to lay the blame of the latter anywhere but where it should be, on our own transgressions. Thirdly, the influence of superstition. Lots have sometimes been used by Divine appointment. Here is a far less clear warrant for them. Yet we may admit some right principle among these sailors, of referring to a higher Being what seemed beyond the reach of human knowledge to decide. But among the heathen Satan abused them (as other things of a similar kind, such as divination) to an execrable superstition, and the establishment of his own dominion (Est 3:7; Eze 21:21; Isa 20:3). Both in ancient and modern times they have been abused to serve the avarice and evil passions of men, and have proved the source of misery, contention, and bloodshed (Joe 3:3; Oba 1:11; Joh 19:23). We are seldom if ever warranted to have recourse to lots. We have a full and sufficient guide in the Scriptures, and can never be justified in using this guide, as some do, in the way of a lottery [Sibthorp].

HOMILETIC HINTS AND OUTLINES

This evil. Suffering, penal and social.

Guilt disowned and discovered in the lot. "In this procedure, there are two things to be attended to:—First, the fact that each man by making this proposal and going into it disowns the guilt: and second, the method by which they propose to discover it [Martin].

Upon Jonah

1. Who is to be pitied for his guilt and humiliation.

2. Rejoiced over, because stopped in his wandering from God and about to be restored.

God's controversy is sometimes greater with his people and more severely prosecuted than against Pagans and gross idolaters. For—

1. Rebellion is idolatry (1Sa ), and so much the grosser as it is in a child.

2. Though they worshipped that which was no god, yet none of them had so behaved towards a supposed Deity, as he had done towards the true God.

3. God may wink at sins in Pagans, but will not let his own children go on unreclaimed (Amo ), it being mercy to pursue them for their folly and amend them [Hutcheson].

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 1

Jon . Lots. Religion, even in its rudest forms, has always been faithful to its general principle thus far, that when the anger of the Divinity has been apprehended, it has been understood to be against sins and crimes; and also that the Divinity was believed to know who was the criminal. The mariners, therefore, referred it to the avenging Power to point out the criminal by a common ancient practice. A reference this not to chance, but to a superior intelligence. Could our prophet have any doubt where. the lot would fall? No: his conscience must have been a prophet to him [John Foster].


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/jonah-1.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

Cast lots — "Lots are an appeal to heaven in doubtful cases, and therefore not to be used but where the matter is undeterminable in any other way."


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/jonah-1.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Jonah did not without reason mention this, — that the passengers consulted together about casting lots; for we hence learn, that it was no ordinary tempest: it appeared then to be a token of God’s wrath. For, if strong wind arose, it would not have been so strange, for such had been often the case; and if a tempest followed, it would not have been a thing unusual. It must then have been something more dreadful, as it filled men’s minds with alarms so that they were conscious that God was present as an avenger: and we know, that it is not common with ungodly men to recognize the vengeance of Gods except in extreme dangers; but when God executes punishment on sins in an unusual manner, then men begin to acknowledge God’s vengeance.

This very thing, Jonah now bears witness to, They said then each to his friend, Come, let us cast lots. Was it not an accustomed thing for them to cast lots whenever a tempest arose? By no means. They had recourse, no doubt, to this expedient, because they knew, that God had not raised up that tempest without some very great and very serious cause. This is one thing: but I cannot now pursue the subjects, I must therefore defer it until tomorrow.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jonah-1.html. 1840-57.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

It should seem that those shipmen thought that there was somewhat very singular in this storm, and so far they were all led to interpret a divine judgment in it, by this plan of casting lots for the discovery.


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Bibliography
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/jonah-1.html. 1828.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jonah 1:7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil [is] upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

Ver. 7. And they said every one to his fellow] When Jonah had now prayed, and yet the tempest continued, (for we know that God heareth not sinners, John 9:31; no, not a David or a Jonah, if he "regard iniquity in his heart," Psalms 66:18; how should the plaster prevail while the weapon remains in the wound?) they resolve to try another course for the safeguard of their lives. Man is ζωον φιλοζωον, a creature that would fain live, said Aesop; and "what man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good," saith David; whereunto Austin answereth, Quis vitam non vult? who would not be master of such a happiness?

Come and let us cast lots] And so put the matter into God’s hands, Proverbs 16:33. He disposeth of lottery, so it be rightly undertaken, not superstitiously, curiously, rashly; but as trusting in God, and not tempting him.

That we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us] Some extraordinary cause they knew there was of this extraordinary tempest. Sinful men strike not their dogs, much less their children, without a cause. A bee stings not till provoked; neither doth God punish his creatures till there be no other remedy, 2 Chronicles 36:16. Good, therefore, is the counsel of the prophet, Lamentations 3:39-40, "Why is living man sorrowful, a man for the punishment of his sin Let us search and try our ways" (find out the sin that God strikes at), "and turn again to the Lord"; turn and live.

So they cast lots] They should have also prayed, as Acts 1:24; Acts 6:6; saying as Saul, 1 Samuel 14:41, "Give a perfect lot." Wicked men also are bound to pray, Psalms 14:4; but although they do not, God can get himself glory by their profane lottery; as he did by Nebuchadnezzar’s, Ezekiel 21:20-21.

And the lot fell upon Jonah] Secret sins will come out at length, and be brought into judgment, Ecclesiastes 12:14. Saeculi laetitia est impunita nequitia (Augustin). Surely the bitterness of death is past, said Agag, but he found it otherwise, 1 Samuel 15:32. Jonah thought himself out of the reach of God’s rod, &c. Wicked men’s faults shall be written in their foreheads, and they forced to answer for all at last, with flames about their ears.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jonah-1.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jonah 1:7. Come, and let us cast lots The sailors betake themselves to this practice, because they see that there is something supernatural in the tempest; whence they conclude that it arose on account of some wicked person who failed with them. Thus the sailors who carried Diagoras in their vessel concluded that the tempest which assailed them was principally on account of this philosopher, who openly professed atheism. God is pleased so to order the lots, that Jonah is found to be the guilty person.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jonah-1.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And they said every one to his fellow; after they had prayed, which was necessary in such cases, as being a religious means, and cast out the goods which loaded the ship, which was a proper natural means of safety, but none appeared, still the tempest, and their danger with it, continued, a shrewd symptom that there was one or other amongst them whose sins had provoked God to do this, and that it were fit to be known who this was; and whoever first moved for making the search, all agree in the expedient. It is like that it was upon the thoughts of many of them, and so expressed here.

Let us cast lots; it is extraordinary danger we are in, all ordinary means fail, let us try that which hath somewhat extraordinary in it; though many times used, let the lot decide among us who is the cause of all this. Lots are an appeal to Heaven in doubtful cases, and therefore not to be used on trifling or unnecessary cases, but where the matter is great, difficult, or undeterminable in any other way, as Scripture instances of lots do inform us, Leviticus 16:8,9 Num 26:55 Joshua 14:2 18:6 21:4,5, &c.; 1 Samuel 10:20,21, Saul chosen by lot; Nehemiah 10:34 11:1 Acts 1:26.

This evil; very great, unusual, and preternatural tempest; not one among them but had deserved more, yet they surmise some notorious offender amongst them, or this had not been.

So they cast lots, they act according to what was proposed,

and the lot fell upon Jonah; God determines and singles out Jonah.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jonah-1.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And they said every one to his fellow, “Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is on us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.”

Then in desperation, when things did not improve, the mariners decided to cast lots in order to find out who among them had angered the gods so much that it had resulted in this evil coming on them. The word for ‘evil’ is the same one mentioned with regard to the Ninevites in Jonah 1:2. But here it signifies ‘evil events’, that is, catastrophes. And when they did cast lots, the lot fell on Jonah. YHWH had ‘disposed of’ the lot in order to indicate the culprit (Proverbs 16:33).


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Bibliography
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/jonah-1.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

It appears to have been common among the heathen to cast lots to determine who was responsible for some catastrophe (cf. John 19:24). Saul resorted to this when he could not get a direct response from the Lord (cf. 1 Samuel 14:36-42). Casting lots was a divinely prescribed method of learning God"s will in Israel (e.g, Leviticus 16:8-10; Numbers 26:55-56; Numbers 33:54; Numbers 34:13; Numbers 36:2-3; Joshua 14:2; Joshua 15:1; Joshua 16:1; et al.). However as practiced by pagans, it was a superstitious practice. In this case God overruled and gave the sailors the correct answer to their request (cf. Proverbs 16:33).

". . . Jonah won the lottery-or lost it." [Note: Allen, p208.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jonah-1.html. 2012.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

evil = calamity: as in Amos 3:6. Hebrew. raa `. App-44.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jonah-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots. God sometimes sanctioned this mode of deciding in difficult cases Compare the similar instance of Achan, whose guilt involved Israel in suffering, until God revealed the offender, probably by the casting of lots (Proverbs 16:33, "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord;" Acts 1:26, "They (the disciples) gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias: and he was numbered with the eleven apostles"). Primitive tradition and natural conscience led even the pagan to believe that one guilty man involves all his associates, though innocent, in punishment. So Cicero ('Natura Deorum,' 3: 37) mentions that the mariners sailing with Diagoris, an atheist, attributed a storm that overtook them to his presence in the ship. [Compare Horace's 'Odes,' 3: 2, 26:

`Vetabo, qui Cereris sacrum Vulgarit arcanae, sub isdem, Sit trabibus, fragilem ve mecum Solvat faselum.']


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jonah-1.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jonah-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.
every
Judges 7:13,14; Isaiah 41:6,7
and let
Joshua 7:14-18; Judges 20:9,10; 1 Samuel 10:20,21; 14:41,42; Esther 3:7; Psalms 22:18; Proverbs 16:33; Matthew 27:35; Acts 1:23-26; 13:19
for
Joshua 7:10,13; 22:16-20; 1 Samuel 14:38,39; Job 10:2
and the
Numbers 32:23; Joshua 7:18; 1 Corinthians 4:5

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jonah 1:7". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jonah-1.html.

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