I am spoiled. When I contemplate boating, I picture vacationing with my family among the magnificent islands of the Pacific Northwest. But except for a blessed few people and times, boarding a ship has not meant leisure, but instead was a risky way for crossing oceans.
Traveling by ship was dangerous and frightening in the days before exotic cruising. Ships served as the precarious means of transportation to start a new life, for trade or as a means of livelihood like the potentially deadly 19th century whaling ships and, indeed, today’s commercial fishing boats.
The book of Jonah opens with a different type of boating:
And Jonah arose to flee… from before God…
and he found a ship going to Tarshish…
And God sent a big wind over the ocean and there was a great storm
upon the ocean and the ship appeared likely to shatter.
And the sailors were terrified … and they threw all the articles
on the ship into the ocean to make it lighter
and Jonah went down to the bilges of the ship, lay down and fell asleep.
The word ship appears four times in these three consecutive verses. Only by looking at the Hebrew text can you see that the word in the first three instances differs from the fourth. The first three use the the Hebrew word ONiYaH. The final instance of ship uses the word SeFiNaH.