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Then the men feared Yahweh with great fear; and they sacrificed a sacrifice to Yahweh and vowed vows. Bible

“the men feared Yahweh with great fear.” The reduplication of the vocabulary in Jonah 1:16 shows the intensity of the sailor's thoughts and actions: they feared Yahweh with fear, sacrificed a sacrifice, and vowed vows. This is one of the places in Scripture when “feared Yahweh” clearly does not mean “have respect for Yahweh,” but means “were afraid of Yahweh.” These pagan sailors would have been very superstitious men—most ancient sailors were—and they had just seen the tremendous and miraculous power of Yahweh to make a deadly storm on the sea and then stop that storm, and that frightened them. Their fear of Yahweh, and desire to appease him and get safely back to port caused them to offer a sacrifice right then and there on the ship. Although there were not priests or Levites and they did not know the Mosaic Law, they sacrificed the way they would have in their religion, doing the best they could. They also vowed vows. Since they did not know Yahweh, the vows likely were vows to do more for Him when they got back to port, for example, offer more proper offerings.


Commentary for: Jonah 1:16