Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jonah 1:5

Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Confidence;   Converts;   Idolatry;   Jonah;   Mariners (Sailors);   Minister, Christian;   Superstition;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Commerce;   Ships;  
Dictionaries:
Fausset Bible Dictionary - Thieves;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jonah;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Joppa ;   Ship ;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ship;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Israel;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Asleep;   Jonah, the Book of;   Ships and Boats;   Sides;   Sleep, Deep;   Wares;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Cried every man unto his god - The ship's crew were all heathens; and, it is probable, heathens who had each a different object of religious worship.

Cast forth the wares - Threw the lading overboard to lighten the ship, hoping the better to ride out the storm.

Jonah was gone down - Most probably into the hold or cabin under the deck; or where they had berths for passengers in the sides of the ship, something in the manner of our packets.

Was fast asleep - Probably quite exhausted and overcome with distress, which in many cases terminates in a deep sleep. So the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jonah-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And cried, every man unto his God - They did what they could. “Not knowing the truth, they yet know of a Providence, and, amid religious error, know that there is an Object of reverence.” In ignorance they had received one who offended God. And now God, “whom they ignorantly worshiped” Acts 17:23, while they cried to the gods, who, they thought, disposed of them, heard them. They escaped with the loss of their wares, but God saved their lives and revealed Himself to them. God hears ignorant prayer, when ignorance is not willful and sin.

To lighten it of them - , literally “to lighten from against them, to lighten” what was so much “against them,” what so oppressed them. “They thought that the ship was weighed down by its wonted lading, and they knew not that the whole weight was that of the fugitive prophet.” “The sailors cast forth their wares,” but the ship was not lightened. For the whole weight still remained, the body of the prophet, that heavy burden, not from the nature of the body, but from the burden of sin. For nothing is so onerous and heavy as sin and disobedience. Whence also Zechariah Zechariah 5:7 represented it under the image of lead. And David, describing its nature, said Psalm 38:4, “my wickednesses are gone over my head; as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.” And Christ cried aloud to those who lived in many sins, Matthew 11:28. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will refresh you.”

Jonah was gone down - , probably before the beginning of the storm, not simply before the lightening of the vessel. He could hardly have fallen asleep “then.” A pagan ship was a strange place for a prophet of God, not as a prophet, but as a fugitive; and so, probably, ashamed of what he had completed, he had withdrawn from sight and notice. He did not embolden himself in his sin, but shrank into himself. The conscience most commonly awakes, when the sin is done. It stands aghast as itself; but Satan, if he can, cuts off its retreat. Jonah had no retreat now, unless God had made one.

And was fast asleep - The journey to Joppa had been long and hurried; he had “fled.” Sorrow and remorse completed what fatigue began. Perhaps he had given himself up to sleep, to dull his conscience. For it is said, “he lay down and was fast asleep.” Grief produces sleep; from where it is said of the apostles in the night before the Lord‘s Passion, when Jesus “rose up from prayer and was come to His disciples, He found them sleeping for sorrow” Luke 22:45. “Jonah slept heavily. Deep was the sleep, but it was not of pleasure but of grief; not of heartlessness, but of heavy-heartedness. For well-disposed servants soon feel their sins, as did he. For when the sin has been done, then he knows its frightfulness. For such is sin. When born, it awakens pangs in the soul which bare it, contrary to the law of our nature. For so soon as we are born, we end the travail-pangs; but sin, so soon as born, rends with pangs the thoughts which conceived it.” Jonah was in a deep sleep, a sleep by which he was fast held and bound; a sleep as deep as that from which Sisera never woke. Had God allowed the ship to sink, the memory of Jonah would have been that of the fugitive prophet. As it is, his deep sleep stands as an image of the lethargy of sin. “This most deep sleep of Jonah signifies a man torpid and slumbering in error, to whom it sufficed not to flee from the face of God, but his mind, drowned in a stupor and not knowing the displeasure of God, lies asleep, steeped in security.”

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jonah-1.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Jonah 1:5

The mariners were afraid, and cried every one unto his god.

Fear driving men to God

We see how in dangers men are constrained to call on God. Though, indeed, there is a certain impression by nature on the hearts of men as to God, so that everyone, willing and unwilling, is conscious that there is some Supreme Being; we yet, by our wickedness, smother this light which ought to shine within us. We indeed gladly cast away all cares and anxieties; for we wish to live at ease, and tranquillity is the chief good of man. Hence it comes that all desire to live without fear and without care, and thence we all naturally seek quietness. Yet this quietness generates contempt. Hence, then, it is that hardly any religion appears in the world when God leaves us in an undisturbed condition. Fear constrains us, however unwilling, to come to God. False, indeed, is what is said, that fear is the cause of religion, and that it was the first reason why men thought that there were gods; this notion is indeed wholly inconsistent with common sense and experience. But religion which has become nearly extinct, or at least covered over in the hearts of men, is stirred up by dangers. Of this Jonah gives a remarkable instance when he says that the sailors “cried, each of them to his God.” We know how barbarous is this race of men; they are disposed to shake off every sense of religion, they indeed drive away every fear, and deride God Himself as long as they may. Hence, that they cried to God, it was no doubt what necessity forced them to do. And here we may learn how useful it is for us to be disquieted by fear; for while we are safe, torpidity, as it is well known, creeps over us. Since, then, hardly any one of him self comes to God, we have need of goads; and God sharply pricks us when He brings any danger so as to constrain us to tremble. But in this way He stimulates us; for we see that all would go astray, and even perish in their thoughtless ness, were He not to draw them back, even against their own will. (John Calvin.)

Fear at the prospect of death

Pliny, who was a contemporary of the Apostle John, made some close observations of the animal world. Among other things he tells us of the mole--“Moriendo incipit oculos aperire,” that is to say, “the mole first opens his eyes in death.” And such is really the case, for the mole’s eyelids, on account of his occupation, are closed all his life long, and only when lie is dying does he force wide open his small black eyes and look round upon the world, and up to the sky. Now, although the mole is not a favourite among men either for its usefulness or its beauty, we may be permitted to say that most human beings, created in the image of God, do just the same as the mole. Of them, too, it is true that, for the most part, they only truly open their eyes, that is, their inward eyes, in death. Then only, when about to leave the world and time, are their eyes couched; not till then do they learn to distinguish between what is something and what is nothing, what is vanity and what is true glory; and then, for the first time, they look up to the inexhaustible sources of eternal life, and discover, to their horror, that like deluded fools they have all along been pursuing what was only illusion, deception, or imposture. Yea, only in that hour do they who took so much pride in their own wisdom become wise in the sense which Moses meant when he prayed: “So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” So late do they begin to seek the antidote to death. Thus we find the fellow-voyagers of the runaway prophet are full of dread and dismay at the gates of death. (Otto Funcke.)

The superstitious infidel

The man who, in ordinary circumstances, refuses a just and enlightened submission to the authority of God is, in the hour of calamity, of all others the most likely to degrade his nature and his name by the low and debasing services of a gross superstition.

I. Whence does infidelity originate?

1. Not, assuredly, in the superior understanding of its subjects. Were it even so, that the most acute individuals were found in the ranks of infidelity, still infidelity gains nothing unless it can either be shown that it is itself the cause of this acumen, or that it results properly and immediately from its exertions. Infidelity is the vice not of mature but of juvenile minds, or of those whose minds never open beyond the attainments of indiscretion.

2. Infidelity, in very many instances, derives its origin from the distorted views of religion, which superstition or bigotry present.

3. The grand origin of all infidelity is the pride and pollution of the heart. Passion now usurps the authority over conscience, and the understanding submits to the will. What we strongly incline to we are easily persuaded to believe; whereas, a doctrine that opposes our desires, it is hardly possible to bear. The principles of infidelity may be held in the fullest harmony with indulged sensuality.

II. Trace infidelity in its results. Follow the history of the infidel to his ultimate manifestation. That sooner or later he will be revealed is what we are warranted to assume. In one or other of the following ways is his folly revealed.

1. By voluntary confession on his acceptance of the Saviour.

2. By the despair which must follow the rejection of this salvation.

3. By the degrading superstitions to which the infidel is constrained to apply.

II. What judgment ought to be formed of such a system of principles?

1. Of its wisdom. Intellect is the boast of infidels.

2. Of its practical influence. The interests of society are concerned here.

3. What is infidelity with respect to its ultimate comfort?

That is no religion for man which does not afford consolation. (James Simpson.)

Seamen in storms

I. The mighty agency of God. The wind is a strange power in nature. The fact that storms are under Divine direction should--

1. Rouse us to consider them as God’s voice.

2. Lead us to submit to the catastrophes they produce.

II. The natural instincts of man. These men developed--

1. The dread of death.

2. Faith in prayer. Their prayer involved--

III. The strange vicariousness of suffering. The storm came on as a consequence of the sin of Jonah. The innocent suffer for the guilty the world over. The principle of vicarious suffering is a principle developed in the experience of all. We suffer for others, and others have suffered for us. A man may deny the justice of vicarious suffering, but he cannot deny the fact. The sufferings of mariners are strikingly vicarious. Let shipwrecks remind us--

1. To put our confidence in God.

2. Of our moral condition.

3. Of our duty to pray for our brethren on the sea. (Homilist.)

They cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea.

The unavailing sacrifice

Whatever sacrifices the sinner in the hour of trial may be disposed to make, nothing can avail him so long as unpardoned sin remains concealed in the heart.

I. There are important sacrifices which, in the hour of trial, the awakened sinner will make.

1. The awakened sinner may abandon, in the hopes of relief, his worldly companions. These were his treasure.

2. Conviction may even constrain the sacrifice of the most endeared and of the most inveterate habits of sin,

3. He sacrifices his prejudices.

4. He sacrifices his personal ease.

5. He will even sacrifice his worldly substance.

II. Sacrifices so presented can never be accepted of God. They have no intrinsic value;--they are involuntary--unseasonable--selfish--unauthorised--unbelieving--and unholy. Such sacrifices may be made while sin remains safely concealed in the soul. Two things are requisite in order to our intercourse with God. Not only must iniquity be pardoned, but it must also be destroyed as to the influence which it exerts on the heart. By that method of salvation which the Scripture reveals, holiness is effectually secured. (James Simpson.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Jonah 1:5". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/jonah-1.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"Then the mariners were afraid and cried every man unto his god; and they cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it unto them. But Jonah was gone down into the innermost parts of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep."

(See under Jonah 1:3, above, for comments concerning the word for ship as used in this verse.)

The word for "mariners" here means "salts," that is sailors of the salt seas; they are usually thought to have been Phoenicians engaged in the corn trade with western Mediterranean ports, or the iron trade with Sardinia. The variety of "gods" mentioned indicates that they were, not all of a single nationality, but of mixed heathen origin, some worshipping one god, some another. Their concern for the safety of the vessel, their diligent efforts to lighten its burden, and their frantic prayers "every man unto his god" contrasts vividly with the amazing indifference of the prophet Jonah fast asleep in the hold of the vessel.

We think Butler is right in rejecting the usual comments about Jonah's conscience being seared, blaming his deep sleep upon his spiritual condition.

"It is hardly justifiable to attribute his deep sleep through the storm to a perverse, stupefied, seared conscience. He was probably so exhausted from the long trip from Gath-hepher to Joppa (60-70 miles) and from the psychological wrestling with his soul (which causes physical exhaustion) that he fell into a deep sleep."[26]

One should contrast this account of Jonah's being asleep on a ship at sea in a storm with the New Testament account of Jesus in a similar situation, as recorded in Mark 4:38.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/jonah-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then the mariners were afraid,.... Perceiving that the storm was not an ordinary, but a supernatural one; and that the ship and all in it were in extreme danger, and no probability of being saved. This shows that the storm must be very violent, to frighten such men who were used to the sea, and to storms, and were naturally bold and intrepid. The word used signifies "salters", so called from the salt sea they used, as they are by us "mariners", from "mare", the "sea"; though R. Japhet in Aben Ezra thinks the commodity they carried in their vessel was salt:

and cried every man to his god: to help them, and save them out of their distress. In the ship it seems were men of different nations, and who worshipped different gods. It was a notion of the Jews, and which Jarchi mentions as his own, that there were men of the seventy nations of the earth in it; and as each of them had a different god, they separately called upon them. The polytheism of the Pagans is to be condemned, and shows the great uncertainty of their religion; yet this appears to be agreeable to the light of nature that there is a God, and that God is to be prayed unto, and called upon, especially in time of trouble:

and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them; or, "the vessels"F3את הכלים "vasa", V. L. Vatablus, Grotius. , a word the Hebrews use for all sorts of goods, utensils, &c. it includes, with others, their military weapons they had to defend themselves, their provisions, the ship's stores or goods it was freighted with; finding their prayers to their gods were ineffectual, they betook themselves to this prudential method to lighten the ship, that they might be able to keep its head above water. So the Targum,

"when they saw there was no profit in them;'

that is in the gods they called upon, then they did this; the other was a matter of religion this a point of prudence; such a step the mariners took that belonged to the ship in which the Apostle Paul was, Acts 27:18;

but Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; into one of its sides, into a cabin there; the lowest side, as the Targum:

and he lay, and was fast asleep; even snored, as some versions have it: it may seem strange he should when the wind was so strong and boisterous; the sea roaring; the waves beating; the ship rolling about; the mariners hurrying from place to place, and calling to each other to do their duty; and the passengers crying; and, above all, that he should fall into so sound a sleep, and continue in it, when he had such a guilty conscience. This shows that he was asleep in a spiritual as well as in a corporeal sense.

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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 Rights 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
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jonah-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that [were] in the ship into the sea, to lighten [it] of them. But Jonah was gone down g into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

(g) As one that would have cast off this care and concern by seeking rest and quietness.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jonah-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

mariners were afraid — though used to storms; the danger therefore must have been extreme.

cried every man unto his god — The idols proved unable to save them, though each, according to Phoenician custom, called on his tutelary god. But Jehovah proved able: and the heathen sailors owned it in the end by sacrificing to Him (Jonah 1:16).

into the sides — that is, the interior recesses (compare 1 Samuel 24:3; Isaiah 14:13, Isaiah 14:15). Those conscious of guilt shrink from the presence of their fellow man into concealment.

fast asleep — Sleep is no necessary proof of innocence; it may be the fruit of carnal security and a seared conscience. How different was Jesus‘ sleep on the Sea of Galilee! (Mark 4:37-39). Guilty Jonah‘s indifference to fear contrasts with the unoffending mariners‘ alarm. The original therefore is in the nominative absolute: “But as for Jonah, he,” etc. Compare spiritually, Ephesians 5:14.

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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.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jonah-1.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

Into the sides — ln some cabin or other, whither he went before the storm arose.

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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.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/jonah-1.html. 1765.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

What a striking instance doth Jonah here afford, how men's minds are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. He, for whom this storm was raised, was the only one insensible of danger. Sinners asleep in a storm of national judgments, are the Jonah's of the present day.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/jonah-1.html. 1828.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jonah 1:5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that [were] in the ship into the sea, to lighten [it] of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

Ver. 5. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man to his god] Forced by the present necessity, first these stout fellows were surprised with fear; neither could they look pale death in the face with blood in their cheeks. Death is the "king of terrors," Job 18:14, Nature’s slaughter man, God’s curse, and helps purveyor. Next they "cried every man to his god." This was a lesson of Mother Nature’s teaching, sc. that there is a God, and that this God is to be called upon, and especially in distress. Those fools of the people that said there was no God could not (when hardly bestead) but look up to heaven and cry out for help. All "people will walk every one in the name of his god," Micah 4:5. These mariners or saltmen המלחים (so called, either because they dealt in that commodity, or else because they rowed in the salt sea) had their several gods, according to their several countries, and these they now called upon, whom, till now, perhaps they little enough cared for; seamen are not overly pious for the most part. And yet of the Turkish mariners I have read, that every morning they salute the sun with their general shouts, and a priest saying a kind of Litany, every prayer ending with Macree Kichoon, that is, be angels present: the people answer in the manner of a shout Homin, that is, Amen. But it is remarkable that these in the text, though they cried every man to his god, yet, lest they might all mistake the true God, they awaken Jonah to call upon his God. This uncertainty, attending idolatry, caused the heathens to close their petitions with that general Diique Deaeque omnes (Serv. in Georg. lib. 1). But thirdly, as they cried to their gods, so (according to that rule, Ora et labora),

They cast forth the wares that were in the ship] Not doubting to sacrifice their goods to the service of their lives. "Skin for skin, and all that a man hath," &c.: so Acts 27:18-19; Acts 27:38. Let us lose anything for eternal life, Luke 16:8; Luke 9:25, Matthew 18:8; suffer any hardship for heaven: we cannot buy it too dear. A stone will fall down to come to its own place, though it break itself in pieces by the way; so we, that we may get to our centre, which is upward.

But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship] Into the bottom of it: hither he had betaken himself before the storm; not considering that God had long hands to pull him out of his lurking holes, and bring him to judgment.

And he lay, and was fast asleep] It is likely that he had not slept many nights before (through care, fear, and grief, those three vultures that had been gnawing upon his inwards), and therefore now sleeps the more soundly. Or rather it was carnal security, his heart being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, Hebrews 3:13. He had hardened his heart against God’s fear, and wilfully withdrawn from his obedience; hence this spiritual lethargy, this deep sleep in sin, not unlike that of the smith’s dog, whom neither the hammers above him nor the sparks of fire falling round about him can awaken: though the waterpot and spear be taken from the bolster, the secure person stirs not; though the house be on fire over his ears he starts not. Their senselessness God will cure in his Jonahs by sharp afflictions. Cold diseases must have hot and sharp remedies. The lethargy is best cured by a burning ague. God will let his presumptuous people see what it is to make wounds in their consciences, to try the preciousness of his balm: such may go mourning to their graves. And though with much ado they get assurance of pardon, yet their consciences will be still trembling, as David’s, Psalms 51:1-19, till God speaks farther peace, even as the water of the sea after a storm is not presently still, but moves and trembles a good while after the storm is over.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jonah-1.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jonah 1:5. And cried every man unto his god The mariners were idolaters, as appears from the next verse. They invoked each one his idol, or the tutelary deity of his country. The profound sleep of Jonah seems to have been caused by his weariness, labour, and anxiety; "Not the sleep of security, but of sorrow," says St. Jerome; like that of the apostles, Matthew 26:40.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jonah-1.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Then, when this preternatural tempest fell-with all its violence into the sea, the mariners; passengers are not here named, who, unaccustomed to sea, might be too apprehensive of danger; but the men that were acquainted with the sea, and had seen many a tempest, and weathered many a storm,

were afraid, heartily afraid, full of apprehensions that they should be wrecked.

Cried, with loud voice and earnest petitions, as the manner of such men is, when danger awakens them to the duty they neglect whilst safe. Every man; not a man of them but feared, nor a man of them but cried out, by which it is evident it was a most dreadful storm.

Unto his god: by this it appears that the ship’s crew was a mixture of men who worshipped several gods, and every one doth now cry to the god whom he worshipped: whatever god it might be, it was not he that did raise nor could allay the tempest. Cast forth the wares that were in the ship: when prayer to their false gods doth no good, but their danger continued and threatened them with foundering in the sea, to prevent this they lighten the ship, as is usual in such cases, and cast the wares out; not as sacrifice to the god of the flea, or as repenting of piracy, by which the goods were gotten, though some conjecture so, but the text tells us it was

to lighten the ship that it may bear up its head and work with the sea better than when heavy laden.

But Jonah, the greatest weight, and only danger to ship and seamen,

was gone down into the sides of the ship; was under the hold in some cabin or other in the side of the ship, whither he went before the storm arose;

and was fast asleep; in a very deep sleep, as the word imports.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jonah-1.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man to his god, and they cast overboard the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the innermost parts of the ship, and he lay, and was fast asleep.’

It may well be that Jonah was the only passenger aboard. Thus when the storm came he got himself out of the way and left things in the hands of those who were more capable. The fact that he fell asleep suggests merely that he had little experience of the sea and was confident in both the ship and its crew, and he was very tired. How often God’s people think that all is well when really it is not so.

Meanwhile the mariners, who did know the sea, and had never experienced a storm like this, were terrified. And each of them cried to his own god. And at the same time, in order too demonstrate the faith that they had in them, they lightened the ship of everything that could be thrown overboard, which was basically the cargo of trading goods. What were profits when life was at stake?

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/jonah-1.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The sailors were of mixed religious convictions. Some of them were probably Phoenicians, since Phoenicians were commonly seafaring traders. Phoenicia was a center of Baal worship then. The sailors" willingness to throw their cargo into the sea illustrates the extreme danger they faced (cf. Acts 27:18-20).

Jonah"s ability to sleep under such conditions seems very unusual. The same Hebrew word (radam) describes Sisera"s deep sleep that his exhaustion produced ( Judges 4:21) and the deep sleep that God put Adam and Abram under ( Genesis 2:21; Genesis 15:12). Perhaps Jonah was both exhausted and divinely assisted in sleeping. His condition does not seem to have a major bearing on the story; it is probably a detail. The events that follow could have happened if he had been wide-awake just as well. What does seem unusual is his attitude of "careless self-security." [Note: Keil, 1:393.] He seems to have preferred death to facing God alive. Not only did he flee to Tarshish, but he also fled to the innermost part of the ship (cf. Amos 6:10).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jonah-1.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

God. They were idolaters, ver. 6. --- Wares, which is commonly done in storms. (Calmet) --- This loss was in punishment of their sins; though they seem not devoid of some fear of God and man. (Haydock) --- Sleep. This is a lively image of the insensibility of sinners, fleeing from God, and threatened on every side with his judgments; and yet sleeping as if they were secure. (Challoner) --- Yet Jonas was sleeping through grief. (St. Jerome) (Matthew xxvi. 40.) (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jonah-1.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

mariners = salts. Hebrew. mallach = salt.

cried = cried in prayer. Hebrew. keli, Not the same word as in verses: Jonah 1:2, Jonah 1:14.

every man. Hebrew. "ish. App-14.

wares = tackling. Hebrew. keli = implements.

into the sides = below deck, or cabins. Compare Ezekiel 32:23. Amos 6:10.

ship = the deck, or covered part. Hebrew sephinah. A genuine Hebrew word, borrowed by inland people, (Syrians. Chaldeans and Arabians), from a maritime people; not vice versa. Hebrew root saphan = to cover (Deuteronomy 33:21 (margin coiled). 1 Kings 6:9; 1 Kings 7:3, 1 Kings 7:7. Jeremiah 22:14. Haggai 1:4). English "deck" is from Dutch dekken.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jonah-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

Then the mariners were afraid - though used to storms; the danger, therefore, must have been extreme.

And cried every man unto his god. The idols proved unable to save them, though each, according to Phoenician custom, called on his tutelary god. But Yahweh proved able: and the pagan sailors owned it in the end by sacrificing to Him (Jonah 1:16).

But Jonah was gone down - before the storm began.

Into the sides - i:e., the interior recesses (cf. 1 Samuel 24:3, "David and his men remained in the sides of the cave;" Isaiah 14:13; Isaiah 14:15).

Of the ship - literally, 'of the decked ship.' Those conscious of guilt shrink from the presence of their fellow-men into concealment.

And he lay, and was fast asleep. Sleep is no necessary proof of innocence; it may be the fruit of carnal security and a seared conscience. How different was Jesus' sleep on the sea of Galilee! (Mark 4:37-39.) Guilty Jonah's indifference to fear contrasts with the unoffending mariners' alarm. The original, therefore, is in the nominative absolute: 'But as for Jonah, he,' etc. Compare spiritually, Ephesians 5:14 ("Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee flight"). Jonah's hurried flight to Damascus producing weariness, combined with sorrow and remorse, produced heavy sleep. Men who have taken a wrong step try to forget themselves (Pusey).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jonah-1.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(5) And cried every man unto his god.—If Phœnicians, the sailors would have their favourite deities in the national Pantheon; but they may have been a motley crew composed of various nationalities. For the panic comp. Psalms 107:23-30, and Shakespeare’s Tempest,

“All lost! to prayers! to prayers, all lost!”

Wares.—The Hebrew word is of general import for furniture of any kind, and so including all the movables in the ship. The cargo would probably, as in the case of St. Paul’s shipwreck, be reserved till the last extremity.

To lighten it of them.—This gives the sense, though the Hebrew idiom appears to mean, to give themselves relief. (Comp. Exodus 18:22, “So shall it be easier for thyself;” 1 Kings 12:10, “Make thou it lighter unto us.”)

Sides.—Rather, recesses. The word is used of the inner part of the Temple (1 Kings 6:16), of a cave (1 Samuel 24:3), of a dwelling-house (Psalms 128:3).

Ship.—The Hebrew is different from the word used earlier in the verse, and is peculiar to this passage. Its derivation from a root meaning “to cover with boards,” indicates a decked vessel. Jonah had gone below into the cabin, the natural course for a man flying from a disagreeable duty. To stand on deck and watch the slow receding shore would have been mental torture.

And was fast asleep.—The fatigue of the hasty flight to the sea-shore accounts for this deep slumber. The same expression is used of Sisera (Judges 4:21). Besides, when a resolution is once irrevocably (as we think) taken, conscience ceases to disturb with its wakeful warning, and the restlessness of remorse has not yet arrived. There is a brief time during which “the exile from himself can flee.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jonah-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
cried
6,14,16; 1 Kings 18:26; Isaiah 44:17-20; 45:20; Jeremiah 2:28; Hosea 7:14
and cast
Job 2:4; Acts 27:18,19,38; Philippians 3:7,8
the sides
1 Samuel 24:3
and was
Judges 16:19; Matthew 25:5; 26:40,41,43,45; Luke 22:45,46
Reciprocal: Psalm 107:28 - GeneralEcclesiastes 3:6 - and a time to cast;  Isaiah 46:7 - one shall cry;  Jonah 4:5 - Jonah;  Habakkuk 2:19 - that;  Matthew 8:24 - there;  Acts 20:9 - being;  Acts 28:11 - whose;  Romans 10:14 - shall they

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jonah-1.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

This narrative, in which Jonah relates in order so many circumstances, is not without its use; for, as we shall presently see, he intended to set forth his own insensibility, and to lay it before us as painted before our eyes: and the comparison, which is implied in the circumstances, greatly illustrates the supine and almost brutal security of Jonah.

He says first that the mariners (15) were afraid, and then, that each cried, that is, to his god and that they cast out into the sea the lading of the ship. As then they were all so concerned, was it not marvelous that Jonah, on whose account the sea was stormy, was asleep? Others were busy, they ran here and there in the ship, and spoiled themselves of their goods, that they might reach the shore in safety: they indeed chose to strip themselves of all they had rather than to perish; they also cried to their gods. Jonah cared for nothing, nay, he lay asleep: but whence came such a carelessness as this, except that he was not only become torpid, but that he seemed also to have been deprived of all reason and common feeling? There is no doubt then but that Jonah, in order to show this to have been the case, has here enumerated so many circumstances.

He says that the mariners were afraid. We indeed know that sailors are not usually frightened by small or common storms; for they are a hardy race of men, and they are the less afraid, because they daily see various commotions in the air. When, therefore, he says that the sailors were afraid, we hence gather that it was not a moderate tempest, for such does not thus terrify men accustomed by long expert once to all sorts of storms: they, then, who had been previously hardened, were disquieted with fear. He afterwards adds, that they cried, each of them to his god. Jonah certainly ought not to have slept so soundly, but that he might rouse himself at almost any moment, for he carried in his heart his own executioner, as he knew that he was a fugitive: for we have said before, that it was not a slight offense for Jonah to withdraw himself from the presence of God; he despised his call, and, as far as he could, cast off the yoke, so as not to obey God. Seeing, then, that Jonah was ill at ease with himself, ought he not to have trembled, even while asleep? But while others cried to their false gods, he either despised, or at least neglected the true God, to whom he knew he was disobedient, and against whom he rebelled. This is the point of the comparison, or of the antithesis. But we at the same time see, how in dangers men are constrained to call on God. Though, indeed, there is a certain impression by nature on the hearts of men as to God, so that every one, willing or unwilling, is conscious that there is some Supreme Being; we yet by our wickedness smother this light, which ought to shine within us. We indeed gladly cast away all cares and anxieties; for we wish to live at ease, and tranquillity is the chief good of men. Hence it comes, that all desire to live without fear and without care; and hence we all naturally seek quietness. Yet this quietness generates contempt. Hence then it is, that hardly any religion appears in the world, when God leaves us in an undisturbed condition. Fear constrains us, however unwilling, to come to God. False indeed is what is said, that fear is the cause of religion, and that it was the first reason why men thought that there were gods: this notion is indeed wholly inconsistent with common sense and experience. But religion, which has become nearly extinct, or at least covered over in the hearts of men, is stirred up by dangers. Of this Jonah gives a remarkable instance, when he says that the sailors cried, each of them to his god We know how barbarous is this race of men; they are disposed to shake off every sense of religion; they indeed drive away every fear, and deride God himself as long as they may. Hence that they cried to God, it was no doubt what necessity forced them to do. And here we may learn, how useful it is for us to be disquieted by fear; for while we are safe, torpidity, as it is well known, soon creeps over us. Since, then, hardly any one of himself comes to God, we have need of goads; and God sharply pricks us, when he brings any danger, so as to constrain us to tremble. But in this way, as I have already said, he stimulates us; for we see that all would go astray, and even perish in their thoughtlessness, were he not to draw them back, even against their own will.

But Jonah does not simply say, that each cried to God, but he adds, to his own god. As, then, this passage teaches, that men are constrained by necessity to seek God, we also, on the other hand, it shows, that men go astray in seeking God, except they are directed by celestial truth, and also by the Spirit of God. There is then some right desire in men, but it goes astray; for none will keep the right way except the Lord directs them, as it has been said, both by his word and his Spirit. Both these particulars we learn from the words of the Prophet: The sailors feared; men hardy and almost iron-hearted, who, like the Cyclops, despised God, — these, he says, were afraid; and they also cried to God; but they did not cry by the guidance of faith; hence it was, that every one cried to his own god.

When we read this, let it first come to our minds that there is no hope until God constrains us, as it were, by force; but we ought to anticipate extreme necessity by seeking him willingly. For what did it avail the sailors and other passengers, to call once on God? It is indeed probable that, shortly after, they relapsed into their former ungodly indifference; after having been freed from their danger, they probably despised God, and all religion was regarded by them with contempt. And so it commonly happens as to ungodly men, who never obey God except when they are constrained. Let therefore every one of us offer himself willingly to God, even now when we are in no danger, and enjoy full quietness. For if we think, that any pretext for thoughtlessness, or for error, or for ignorance, will serve as an excuse, we are greatly deceived; for no excuse can be admitted, since experience teaches us, that there is naturally implanted in all some knowledge of God, and that these truths are engraven on our hearts, that God governs our life, — that he alone can remove us by death, — that it is his peculiar office to aid and help us. For how was it that these sailors cried? Had they any new teacher who preached to them about religion, and who regularly taught them that God was the deliverer of mankind? By no means: but these truths, as I have said, had been by nature impressed on their hearts. While the sea was tranquil, none of them called on their god; but danger roused them from their drowsiness. But it is hence sufficiently evident, that whatever excuses they may pretend, who ascribe not to God his glory, they are all frivolous; for there is no need of any law, there is no need of any Scripture, in short, there is no need of any teaching, to enable men to know, that this life is in the hand of God, that deliverance is to be sought from him alone, and that nothing, as we have said, ought to be looked for from any other quarter: for invocation proves that men have this conviction respecting God; and invocation comes from nothing else but from some hidden instinct, and indeed from the guidance and teaching of nature, (duce ac magistra natura ) This is one thing.

But let us also learn from this passage, that when God is sought by us, we ought not to trust to our own understanding; for we shall in that case immediately go astray. God then must be supplicated to guide us by his word, otherwise every one will fall off into his own superstitions; as we here see, that each cried to his own god. The Prophet also reminds us that multiplicity of gods is no modern invention; for mankind, since the fall of Adam, have ever been prone to falsehood and vanity. We know how much corruption must occupy our minds, when every one invents for himself hideous and monstrous things. Since it is so, there is no wonder that superstitions have ever prevailed in the world; for the wit of man is the workshop of all errors. (quia ingenium hominis officina est omnium errorum ) And hence also we may learn what I have lately touched upon, — that nothing is worse for us than to follow the impulses of our flesh; for every one of himself advances in the way of error, even without being pushed on by another; and at the same time, as is commonly the case, men draw on one another.

He now adds, that the wares were cast out, that is, the lading of the ship; and we know that this is the last resource in shipwrecks; for men, to save their lives, will deprive themselves willingly of all their goods. We hence see how precious is life to man; for he will not hesitate to strip himself of all he has, that he may not lose his life. We indeed shun want, and many seek death because extreme poverty is intolerable to them; but when they come to some great danger, men ever prefer their life to all their possessions; for what are the good things of this world, but certain additions to our life? But Jonah tells us for another purpose that the ship was lightened, even for this, — that we may know that the tempest was no ordinary commotion, but that the sailors, apprehensive of approaching death, adopted this as the last resource.

Another clause follows: Jonah had gone down into the sides (16) , or the side, of the ship. Jonah no doubt sought a retreat before the storm arose. As soon then as they sailed from the harbor, Jonah withdrew to some remote corner, that he might sleep there. But this was no excusable insensibility on his part, as he knew that he was a fugitive from the presence of God: he ought then to have been agitated by unceasing terrors; nay, he ought to have been to himself the taxer (exactor ) of anxiety. But it often so happens, that when any one has sought hiding-places, he brings on himself a stupor almost brutal; he thinks of nothing, he cares for nothing, he is anxious for nothing. Such then was the insensibility which possessed the soul of Jonah, when he went down to some recess in the ship, that he might there indulge himself in sleep. Since it thus happened to the holy Prophet, who of us ought not to fear for himself? Let us hence learn to remind ourselves often of God’s tribunal; and when our minds are seized with torpor, let us learn to stimulate and examine ourselves, lest God’s judgment overwhelm us while asleep. For what prevented ruin from wholly swallowing up Jonah, except the mercy of God, who pitied his servant, and watched for his safety even while he was asleep? Had not the Lord then exercised such care over Jonah, he must have perished. (17)

We hence see that the Lord often cares for his people when they care not for themselves, and that he watches while they are asleep: but this ought not to serve to nourish our self-indulgence; for every one of us is already more indulgent to himself than he ought to be: but, on the contrary, this example of Jonah, whom we see to have been so near destruction, ought to excite and urge us, that when any of us has gone astray from his calling he may not lie secure in that state, but, on the contrary, run back immediately to God. And if God be not able to draw us back to himself without some violent means, let us at least follow in this respect the example of Jonah, which we shall in its own place notice. It follows —

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jonah 1:5". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jonah-1.html. 1840-57.