Jonah's Lot

Jonah flees to Tarshish when Yahvah tells him to go preach to the Ninevites. The storm at sea is so severe the mariners cast lots to determine who is at fault, the answer being Jonah. The math points at another story where the individual at fault is discovered using lots.

Jonah 1

FE 1The word of the Master came to Jonah the son of Matai saying, 2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach against it; for their wickedness has come up before me. Jonah 1:1-23But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish, from the presence of the Master, and went down to Joppa; and he found a boat going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare and went into it to go with them to Tarshish to flee from the presence of the Master. Jonah 1:34But the Master sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the boat was in danger of being broken. 5The mariners were afraid and cried every man to his god, and they threw the wares that were in the boat into the sea to lighten it. Jonah 1:4-5But Jonah had gone down into the inner hold of the boat; and he lay and was fast asleep. 6The captain came to him and said to him, Why are you sleeping? Arise, call on your god, perhaps god will deliver us, that we do not perish. Jonah 1:5-67Each said to his fellow, Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil has come on us, so they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Jonah 1:78They said to him, Tell us for what cause this evil has come on us. What is your occupation? From what place do you come? What is your country? Of what people are you? Jonah 1:89Jonah said to them, I am a Hebrew; and I worship the Master the god of the skies, who made the sea and the dry land. Jonah 1:910The men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, What have you done? For the men knew that he had fled from the presence of the Master. Jonah 1:1011When he had told them everything, then they said to him, What will we do to you, that the sea may be calm for us? For the sea continues to be more tempestuous against us. Jonah 1:1112Jonah said to them, Take me up and cast me into the sea, so that the sea may be calm to you; for I know that for my sake, this great tempest is on you. Jonah 1:1213The men rowed hard to bring the boat back to the land, but they could not, for the sea became more tempestuous against them. 14Therefore they cried to the Master and said, We beg you, Master, do not let us perish for the life of this man and do not lay on us innocent blood, for you are the Master and have done as it pleased you. 15They took up Jonah and cast him forth into the sea and the sea ceased from its raging. 16The men were greatly terrified from the presence of the Master and they offered sacrifices of righteousness to the Master and made vows. Jonah 1:13-1617The Master had prepared a great fish and it swallowed Jonah. Jonah was in the belly of the fish 3 days and 3 nights. Q Matthew 12:40 Jonah 1:17 (Jonah 1:1-17 BRB)


3+3 = 6 = Joshua


The closest match to Jonah's situation given the various stories in Joshua is the story of Achan keeping some of the devoted items from Jericho thus bringing a deadly curse on the camp of Israel.

1The children of Israel FE committed a trespass in the accursed things and Achar son of Karmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah from the tribe of Judah took from the accursed things and hid them and the anger of the Master was provoked on the children of Israel. M Genesis 31:19 Joshua 7:12Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai FE , which is beside Beth Aven on the east side of Beth El, and said to them, Go up and spy out the land. Joshua 7:2The men went up and spied out Ai. 3They returned to Joshua and said to him, Do not let all the people go up, but let about 2,000 or 3,000 men go up and destroy Ai. Do not send all the people there, for the men of Ai are few. Joshua 7:2-34There went up about 3,000 men and they fled before the men of Ai. 5The men of Ai struck 36 men and they chased them from before the gate until they were defeated and they struck them with a great slaughter, therefore the hearts of the people melted and became as water. Joshua 7:4-5FE 6Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the land on his face before the ark of the Master until evening, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust on their heads. 7Joshua said, Alas, FE Master the Master, why have you brought this people over the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites? If only we had been content to live on the other side of the Jordan. 8Therefore what will I say when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies, 9and the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and will gather together against us and cut off our name from the face of the land, and what will you do for your great name? Joshua 7:6-910The Master said to Joshua, FE Get up. Why do you lie on your face on the land? 11Israel has FE sinned and they have also transgressed on the commandment which I commanded them and they have taken some of the accursed things and FE have also stolen and lied and they have hidden them among their own stuff. 12Therefore the children of Israel cannot stand again before their enemies, but they will turn their backs before their enemies because they are accursed and I will not be with you any longer unless you remove the curse from among you. Joshua 7:10-1213Up, summon this people and say, Be ready tomorrow for the Master god of Israel says, There is an accursed thing in the middle of you Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies any longer until you remove the accursed thing from among you. Joshua 7:13FE 14In the morning, therefore, you will be brought near according to your tribes, and it will be that the tribe which the Master takes will come by families, and the family which the Master will take will come by houses, and the house which the Master will take will come man by man. 15It will be that he who is taken with the accursed thing will be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the commandment of the Master and because he has done wickedness in Israel. Joshua 7:14-1516Joshua rose up early in the morning and brought forward Israel by tribes and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17He brought the tribe of Judah by families and the family of Zerah was taken. He brought the family of Zerah by house and Zabdi was taken. 18He brought his house man by man and Achar son of Karmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah of the family of Judah was taken. Joshua 7:16-1819Joshua said to Achar, Give glory to the Master god of Israel and give praise to him and tell me now what you have done and do not hide it from me. Joshua 7:1920Achar answered Joshua and said, Truly I have sinned against the Master god of Israel. This is what I did. 21I saw in the spoil 1 beautiful Babylonian garment and 200 shekels of silver and 1 wedge of gold weighing 50 shekels and I coveted them and I took them and they are hidden in the land inside of my tent and the silver under it. Joshua 7:20-2122Joshua sent messengers and they ran to his tent and it was hidden in his tent and the silver under it. 23They took them out of his tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel and laid them out before the Master. Joshua 7:22-23FE 24Joshua and all Israel with him took Achar son of Zerah and the silver and the garment and the wedge of gold and his sons and his daughters and his oxen and his donkeys and his sheep and his tent and all that he had and they brought them to the valley of Achar. 25Joshua said to him, Why have you troubled us? The Master will trouble you this day. Joshua 7:24-25All Israel stoned him with stones, both him and all that he had, and burned them with fire. 26They raised over him a great heap of stones which remain to this day. The Master turned from his fierce anger. Therefore the name of that place is called, The valley of Achar, to this day. Joshua 7:25-26 (Joshua 7:1-26 BRB)

Note the way Joshua was able to "take" the correct tribe, clan, family and man without ever missing. Given that we don't know the number of clans in the tribe of Judah and the number of families in the clan of Zimri it's not possible to work out the exact odds for picking the right guy, but the first round was a choice between 13 tribes and it was a series of four choices he made. The odds are going to be way against getting this right if one were just guessing.

One might interpret this story to be evidence of a prophetic gift at work. While there are plenty of stories that demonstrate this gift both in the Old and New Testament, that explanation does not appear to be the best one for this particular story.

First, if finding the person in question in this story was happening via a straight prophetic gift, why not simply call out Achan directly? Why bother with the whole process of which tribe, which clan, which family, which brother? Doesn't make sense in light of all the other stories in scripture that do model the prophetic gift in a more direct sort of manor.

Though the word is not used here, the way Joshua knew what tribe and so forth to "take" and the way he needed to work it as a process of elimination, progressively narrowing the field, is clear evidence he was casting lots. It's exactly what the men on the ship did to find out who was responsible for the fierce storm.

Was Joshua not able to use a prophetic gift to find Achan? Most likely he was able to hear the name directly, afterall, look at the amount of detail he was given in a prophetic message the night before. So why lots? The simple answer is for the sake of the many witnesses. Achan's sin brought trouble on the whole community and the consequence was very high, his life. If Joshua just said prophetically, you're the guy, even when they produced the items from under his tent, Joshua would be open to a lawsuit arguing that he planted the items under Achan's tent and faked a prophetic word from god because the blame of the lost battle at Ai had to fall on someone. But, by casting lots, something no one could control, even Joshua, and that before the entire community, when the lot fell to Achan and then his tent was searched and the items found, everyone knew Achan had really done the deed. Achan knows the process too and doesn't even try to wiggle out of it but comes clean in full even before his tent is searched.

Not that it really matters, but elsewhere in Joshua it's also the case that lots are cast to make a decision, mainly for the distribution of real estate between the tribes while the land is being divided. Moses, by a prophetic word, had told Joshua to do it this way. It protected Joshua and the other leaders from the accusation of manipulation of dividing the land to their own interests.