on Jonah 1 :5
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.
on Jonah 1 :5
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for a prophet of God, not as a prophet, but as a fugitive; and so, probably, ashamed of what he had completed, he had withdrawn from sight and notice.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."
on Jonah 1 :5
1:5 Into the sides - ln some cabin or other, whither he went before the storm arose.