Then they said unto him, tell us, we pray thee
They did not fall upon him at once in an outrageous manner, and throw him overboard; as it might be thought such men would have done, considering what they had suffered and lost by means of him; but they use him with great respect, tenderness, and lenity: and entreat him to tell them for whose cause this evil [was] upon them:
or rather, as the Targum,
``for what this evil is upon us;''and so Noldius F6 renders the words; for their inquiry was not about the person for whose cause it was; that was determined by the lot; but on what account it was; what sin it was he had been guilty of, which was the cause of it; for they supposed some great sin must be committed, that had brought down the vengeance of God in such a manner: what [is] thine occupation?
trade or business? this question they put, to know whether he had any, or was an idle man; or rather, whether it was an honest and lawful employment; whether it was by fraud or violence, by thieving and stealing, he got his livelihood; or by conjuring, and using the magic art: or else the inquiry was about his present business, what he was going about; what he was to do at Tarshish when he came there; whether he was not upon some ill design, and sent on an unlawful errand, and going to do some ill thing, for which vengeance pursued him, and stopped him: and whence comest thou? what [is] thy country? and of what people [art]
which questions seem to relate to the same thing, what nation he was of; and put by different persons, who were eager to learn what countryman he was, that they might know who was the God he worshipped, and guess at the crime he had been guilty of.
F6 Concordant. Part. Ebr. p. 182. No. 828.