|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:13-17 The mariners rowed against wind and tide, the wind of God's displeasure, the tide of his counsel; but it is in vain to think of saving ourselves any other way than by destroying our sins. Even natural conscience cannot but dread blood-guiltiness. And when we are led by Providence God does what he pleases, and we ought to be satisfied, though it may not please us. Throwing Jonah into the sea put an end to the storm. God will not afflict for ever, He will only contend till we submit and turn from our sins. Surely these heathen mariners will rise up in judgment against many called Christians, who neither offer prayers when in distress, nor thanksgiving for signal deliverances. The Lord commands all creatures, and can make any of them serve his designs of mercy to his people. Let us see this salvation of the Lord, and admire his power, that he could thus save a drowning man, and his pity, that he would thus save one who was running from him, and had offended him. It was of the Lord's mercies that Jonah was not consumed. Jonah was alive in the fish three days and nights: to nature this was impossible, but to the God of nature all things are possible. Jonah, by this miraculous preservation, was made a type of Christ; as our blessed Lord himself declared, Mt 12:40.
Verse 13. - The generous sailors, however, are loth to execute this sentence on a prophet of the Lord, and make a supreme effort to reach the land, and thus obviate this severe alternative. Rowed hard; literally, digged (Job 24:16; Ezekiel 12:7); Septuagint, παρεβιάζοντο, "used violent efforts." They endeavoured to force their way through the waves with oars, as the use of sails was impracticable. The expression is like the classical phrases, infindere sulcos, scindere freta, arare aquas, and our "to plough the main." To the land; to get them back to land. The wind was off shore, and they had taken down the sails, and tried to row back to the harbour. Τοῦ ἐπιτρέψαι πρὸς τὴν γῆν, "to return to the land" (Septuagint). The sea wrought (see note on ver. 11).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to bring it to the land,
but they could not,.... Or, "they digged" (l); that is, the waters of the sea with their oars; not by casting anchor, as Abendana; they used all their skill and exerted all their strength; they laboured with all their might and main, as a man digs in a pit; they ploughed the ocean, and furrowed the sea, as the Latins speak, but all in vain; they rowed against wind and tide; God, his purposes and providence, were against them; and it was not possible for them to make land, and get the ship ashore, which they were desirous of, to save the life of Jonah, as well as their own; for, seeing him penitent, they had compassion on him; his character and profession as a prophet, the gravity of the man, the sedateness of his countenance, his openness of mind, and his willingness to die, wrought greatly upon the men, that they would fain have saved him if they could; and perhaps being Heathens, and not knowing thoroughly the nature of his offence, might think he did not deserve to die; but all their endeavours to save him were to no purpose:
for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them; it grew more and more so; the storm beat right against them, and drove them back faster than they came; so that it was impossible to stand against it.
(l) "et fodiebant", Montanus, Calvin, Piscator, Tarnovius; "foderunt", Vatablus, Liveleus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. they could not—(Pr 21:30). Wind and tide—God's displeasure and God's counsel—were against them.
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