Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly
This was not a natural fear, as before, but a religious one; and not a servile fear, or a fear of punishment, but a reverential godly fear; for they feared him, not only because they saw his power in raising and stilling the tempest, but his goodness to them in saving them: and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord;
a spiritual sacrifice; the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for a safe deliverance from the storm; for other sort of sacrifice they seemed not to have materials for; since they had thrown overboard what they had in the ship to lighten it, unless there might be anything left fit for this purpose; but rather, if it is to be understood of a ceremonial sacrifice, it was offered when they went out of the ship, according to the gloss of Aben Ezra; or they solemnly declared they would, as soon as they came to land; to which sense is the Targum,
``and they said, they would offer a sacrifice:''and agreeably to this the words may be rendered, with what follows, thus, "and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord", that is, and made vows;
they vowed that they would offer a sacrifice F14 when arrived in their own country, or should return to Judea, and come to Jerusalem. So the Hebrew (w) , "vau", is often used F15, as exegetical and explanative; though many interpreters understand the vows as distinct from the sacrifice; and that they vowed that the God of the Hebrews should be their God, and that they would for the future serve and worship him only; that they would become proselytes, as Jarchi; or give alms to the poor, as Kimchi; as an evidence of their sense of gratitude to God, the author of their mercies. If these men were truly converted, as it seems as if they were, they were great gainers by this providence; for though they lost their worldly goods, they found what was infinitely better, God to be their God and portion, and all spiritual good thing a with him; and it may be observed of the wise and wonderful providence of God, that though Jonah refused to go and preach to the Gentiles at Nineveh, for which he was corrected; yet God made this dispensation a means of converting other Gentiles.
F14 So Drusius.
F15 Vid. Nold. Ebr. Part. Concord. p. 280.