Acts 27:29
Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
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(29) Fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks.—Literally, upon rough places—the reefs of rock which were indicated by the breakers and by the diminished depth of water.

They cast four anchors out of the stern.—It was no unusual thing for a ship to be furnished with this complement of anchors. So Cæsar describes his ships as being secured with four anchors each (Bell. Civ. i. 25). In ancient navigation, as in modern, the anchors were commonly cast from the bow. In the battles of the Nile and of Copenhagen, however, Nelson had his ships anchored at the stern, and the fact derives a peculiar interest from the statement that he had been reading Acts 27 on the morning of the engagement. The result of this operation was that the ship was no longer in motion, and would be found, when the morning came, with her head to the shore. The tension of hope and fear, the suspense which made men almost cry—

“And if our fate be death, give light, and let us die,”

is vividly brought before us in St. Luke’s few words, “they were praying for the day.”

27:21-29 They did not hearken to the apostle when he warned them of their danger; yet if they acknowledge their folly, and repent of it, he will speak comfort and relief to them when in danger. Most people bring themselves into trouble, because they do not know when they are well off; they come to harm and loss by aiming to mend their condition, often against advice. Observe the solemn profession Paul made of relation to God. No storms or tempests can hinder God's favour to his people, for he is a Help always at hand. It is a comfort to the faithful servants of God when in difficulties, that as long as the Lord has any work for them to do, their lives shall be prolonged. If Paul had thrust himself needlessly into bad company, he might justly have been cast away with them; but God calling him into it, they are preserved with him. They are given thee; there is no greater satisfaction to a good man than to know he is a public blessing. He comforts them with the same comforts wherewith he himself was comforted. God is ever faithful, therefore let all who have an interest in his promises be ever cheerful. As, with God, saying and doing are not two things, believing and enjoying should not be so with us. Hope is an anchor of the soul, sure and stedfast, entering into that within the veil. Let those who are in spiritual darkness hold fast by that, and think not of putting to sea again, but abide by Christ, and wait till the day break, and the shadows flee away.They cast four anchors - On account of the violence of the storm and waves, to make, if possible, the ship secure.

And wished for the day - To discern more accurately their situation and danger.

29. they cast four anchors out of the stern—The ordinary way was to cast the anchor, as now, from the bow: but ancient ships, built with both ends alike, were fitted with hawseholes in the stern, so that in case of need they could anchor either way. And when the fear was, as here, that they might fall on the rocks to leeward, and the intention was to run the ship ashore as soon as daylight enabled them to fix upon a safe spot, the very best thing they could do was to anchor by the stern [Smith]. In stormy weather two anchors were used, and we have instances of four being employed, as here.

and wished—"anxiously" or "devoutly wished."

for day—the remark this of one present, and with all his shipmates alive to the horrors of their condition. "The ship might go down at her anchors, or the coast to leeward might be iron-bound, affording no beach on which they could land with safety. Hence their anxious longing for day, and the ungenerous but natural attempt, not peculiar to ancient times, of the seamen to save their own lives by taking to the boat" [Smith].

Fallen upon rocks; of which there are very many in these seas, especially about the islands.

Cast four anchors; which show how great the tempest was, that they needed so many anchors.

Wished for the day; that they might the better discover whereabouts they were.

Then fearing lest they should have fallen upon rocks,.... Or rough places, as shelves, rocks, or sands, as they might well fear, when the water shallowed so fast, from 20 to 15 fathoms:

they cast four anchors out of the stern; or hinder part of the ship; the Ethiopic version calls it, "the head of the ship": and adds, "where the governor sat"; that is, at the helm, to steer it. Perhaps the reason of this version is, because it is not usual in modern navigation, and so, when this version was made, to cast out anchors from the stern, but from the prow or head of the ship; but it seems this was done by the ancients. According to Pliny, the Tyrrhenians first invented the anchor; though Pausanias ascribes the invention of it to Midas, the son of Gordius: the most ancient ones were made of stone, as was the anchor of the Argonautes; afterwards they were made of wood; and it is said, that the Japanese use wooden anchors now; and these were not pointed, but had great weights of lead, or baskets filled with stones at the head of them, to stop the ship with; last of all they were made of iron, but with a barb or tooth on one side only, not on both: the anchor with two teeth or barbs was found out by Eupalamius; or, as others say, by Anacharsis, the Scythian philosopher: it was usual to have more anchors than one in every ship, of which there was one which exceeded the rest, both in size and strength, and was called the "sacred" anchor; and which was only used in case of necessity (t); and is what is now called "the sheet anchor". The modern anchor is a large strong piece of iron, crooked at one end, and formed into two barbs, resembling a hook, fastened at the other end by a cable. The parts of an anchor are,

1) the ring into which the cable is fastened;

2) the beam, or shank, which is the longest part of the anchor;

3) the arm, which is that which runs down into the ground; at the end of which is,

4) the flouke or fluke, by some called the palm, being that broad and picked part with its barbs like an arrowhead, which fastens into the ground;

5) the stock, a piece of wood, fastened to the beam near the ring, serving to guide the fluke, so that it may fall right, and fix in the ground.

There are three kinds of anchors commonly used, the kedger, the grapnel, and the stream anchor (u); yea, I find that there are four kinds of anchors, the sheet anchor, best bower, small bower, and stream anchor: it seems the grapnel is chiefly for the long boat: here were four anchors, but very likely all of a sort, or, however, not diversified in the manner the modern ones are. These they cast out to stop the ship, and keep it steady, and that it might proceed no further, till they could learn whereabout they were:

and wished for the day; that by the light of it they might see whether they were near land, or in danger of rocks and shelves, as they imagined.

(t) Scheffer. de Militia Navali Veterum, l. 2. c. 5. p. 147, 148, 149. (u) Chambers's Cyclopaedia in the word "Anchor".

Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
Acts 27:29. φοβούμενοι: the diminution of the depth of water increased the danger of running aground, perhaps on some hidden reef of rocks.—τραχεῖς τόπους, cf. Luke 3:5, in quotation Isaiah 40:4; nowhere else in N.T., cf. Bar 4:26 (3Ma 1:23), so in Diod. Sic., xii., 72, of rocks, Polyb., i., 54. It was evidently a hydrographic term, and classed with δύσορμος, ἀλίμενος, etc., Jul. Pollux, i., 101; J. Smith, p. 132.—ἐκπέσωμεν, see Acts 27:17, “to cast ashore,” R.V., or simply “cast on rocky ground,” which is more indefinite than the former rendering, and perhaps correctly so, as there were possible dangers from sunken reefs as well as from a rocky coast. On the subjunctive after verbs of fear and danger cf. Burton, p. 15.—ἐκ πρύμνης: this was unusual, but to anchor was their only chance of safety, and four anchors would make the vessel more secure: ancient vessels carried as a rule several anchors. Athenæus speaks of a ship which had eight iron anchors, cf. for the number here, and the security which they gave, Cæsar, Bell. Civ., i., 25, “naves quaternis anchoris destinabat, ne fluctibus moverentur”; anchorage from the prow would have caused the ship to swing round from the wind, whereas anchorage from the stern would enable the sailors to manage the ship far more easily, and to bring her under control of the helm when they wished to run her aground (see the description in Ramsay, Rendall, Farrar, and J. Smith). On the interesting parallels of anchoring ships from the stern in our own naval engagements see C. and H., small edition, p. 653, and J. Smith, p. 133, 4th edition.—ηὔχοντο: “prayed,” R.V. margin, the Greek sailors might pray at such a crisis (Rendall).—ἡμέραν γενέσθαι, cf. Acts 27:33; Acts 27:39, characteristic of Luke, cf. Luke 4:42; Luke 6:13; Luke 22:26, Acts 12:18; Acts 16:35; Acts 23:12.

29. lest we should have fallen upon rocks] [R.V. should be cast ashore on rocky ground]. That rocks were near was evident from the dashing of the waves. But the morning, even with the faint light which appeared through the dark clouds, might enable them to make for a part where the coast was not so full of danger.

out of the stern] Thus trying as best they might to keep the head of the vessel towards the land and yet let her come no nearer to it, until they could make out what it was like.

wished for the day] Or the verb may be rendered “prayed.” The similarity of the circumstances to those in Jonah’s voyage would thus be made still greater, for then the heathen sailors prayed to their own gods.

Verse 29. - And for then, A.V.; lest haply for lest, A.V.; be cast ashore on rocky ground for have fallen upon rocks, A.V.; let go for east, A.V.; from for out of, A.V. Cast ashore (see ver. 17, note). Rocky ground (τραχεῖς τόπους); Luke 3:5. The region of Trachonitis was so called from the rocky nature of the country - ἄκτη τραχεῖα, a rocky shore, Four anchors, "Naves quaternis anchoris destinabat no fluctibus moveretur" (Caesar, 'De Bell. Cir.,' 1:25). From the stern. Anchors are usually dropped from the bow, but under certain circumstances ships anchor from the stern. The British navy so anchored at the battles of the Nile, Algiers, and Copenhagen, and it is a earn-men practice of the Levantine caiques at the present day; and an ancient picture of a ship (at Herculaneum) distinctly represents "hawse-holes aft to fit them for anchoring by the stern." They did so in the present case, to obviate the danger of the ship swinging round and getting into breakers, and also that she might be in the best position for running on to the beach as soon as daylight came. Acts 27:29
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