What to do? (Jon 1:10-1:11)

“Then the sailors

Were even more afraid.

They said to him.

‘What is this

That you have done?’

The men knew

That he was fleeing

From the presence

Of Yahweh,

Because he had told them so.

Then they said to him.

‘What shall we do

To you?

How can the sea

Quiet down for us?’

The sea was growing

More and more tempestuous.”

The sailors on this ship were afraid and confused.  They did not know what to do.  They wanted to know why Jonah had done such a thing as to flee the presence of Yahweh, since he had apparently told them why he was on this ship.  They wanted to know what they were going to do with him, Jonah.  How could he make the sea quiet down, since it was getting rougher than before?

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The sinking of everything (Ezek 27:26-27:27)

“Your rowers

Have brought you

Into the high seas.

The east wind

Has wrecked you

In the heart

Of the seas.

Your riches,

Your wares,

Your merchandise,

Your mariners

Your pilots,

Your caulkers,

Your dealers

In merchandise,

All your warriors

Within you,

With all your company

That is with you,

Sink

Into the heart

Of the seas

On the day

Of your ruin.”

The rowers of the Tyre ships brought them into the high seas. The east wind then wrecked them in the heart of the sea. All their riches, goods, and merchandise sank. Their sailors, pilots, caulk workers, trade merchant dealers, their warriors, and all their company would sink into the heart of the sea on the day of their ruin. Tyre, its ships, its people, and all its goods would sink into the choppy Mediterranean Sea.

The workers on the ships (Ezek 27:8-27:9)

“The inhabitants

Of Sidon

With the inhabitants

Of Arvad

Were your rowers.

The skilled men

Of Zemer

Were within you.

They were your pilots.

The elders

Of Gebal

With its artisans

Were within you.

They were caulking

Your seams.

All the ships

Of the sea

With their mariners

Were within you,

To barter

For your wares.”

Ezekiel showed a great knowledge about ships and travel in Tyre. The rowers in the boats of Tyre were from Sidon and Arvad. Sidon was often mentioned together with Tyre. Sidon itself, now part of Lebanon, was a seacoast town about 25 miles north of Tyre, supposedly named after the son of Canaan, the grandson of Noah. Arvad was another island city about 120 miles north of Tyre that is now part of Syria. The pilots on the boats were from Zemer, an inland town that is now part of Israel. The artistic caulkers on the ships were the old people from Gebal, later known as Byblos, about 70 miles north of Tyre. The sailors and the merchants were all from Tyre itself.

Oracle against Sidon (Isa 23:2-23:4)

“Be still!

O inhabitants of the coast!

O merchants of Sidon!

Your messengers crossed

Over the sea.

They replenished you.

They were on many waters.

Your revenue

Was the grain of Shihor,

The harvest of the Nile.

You were

The merchant of the nations.

Be ashamed!

O Sidon!

The sea has spoken.

The fortress of the sea says.

‘I have neither labored

Nor given birth.

I have neither reared young men

Nor brought up young women.’”

Sidon was another Phoenician city about 25 miles north of Tyre. This maritime city is also on the southern Lebanon coastline today, mostly known for its fishing and trade. Sidon was also the name of the grandson of Noah, and thus older than Tyre. This oracle of Isaiah wants the people of Sidon to be still. Their sailors had traveled the great seas. In fact, they would bring the harvest of grain from the Nile via Shihor, a port town near Zoan in Egypt. They were the sea merchants to all the countries along the Mediterranean Sea. However, they should be ashamed. Sidon was going to be barren, no longer would young men and women be raised in Sidon, but without any explanation on why this was going to happen here.

Oracle against Tyre (Isa 23:1-23:1)

“The oracle concerning Tyre.

Wail!

O ships of Tarshish!

Your fortress is destroyed.

When they came in

From Cyprus

They learned of it.”

Tyre was a Phoenician costal island city that still exists in southern Lebanon. Known for its maritime trade and purple dye, it was actually in the Israelite territory of Asher. The ships of Tarshish are mentioned 24 times in the biblical books, most notably when speaking about the wealth of King Solomon, in 1 Kings, chapter 10. Tarnish must have been someplace where there was a lot of metal, such as silver, probably some distance away, since speculation continues as to its exact location. The fortress or the houses of Tyre would be destroyed. Apparently these Phoenician sailors from Tyre were coming back from the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea, when they learned about this destruction.

The seas (Sir 43:23-43:26)

“By the Lord’s plan,

He stilled the great deep sea.

He planted islands in it.

Those who sail the sea

Tell of its dangers.

We marvel at

What we hear.

In the sea

Are strange creatures.

In the sea

Are marvelous works.

There are

All kinds of living things.

There are

Huge sea-monsters.

Because of him,

Each of his messengers succeeds.

By his word

All things hold together.”

Next Sirach explains how the Lord controls and stills the seas. The Lord planted the islands in these seas. Many sailors tell of their dangerous adventures on the high seas, mostly on the Mediterranean Sea. Within these waters, there are many strange and marvelous creatures. Among the many living things in the sea are the sea monsters, in particular Leviathan that played a major role in biblical stories, particularly in the book of Job, chapter 41. All these things stay together because of the power of the Lord.