And behold, there arose a great tempest
"A great concussion", or "shaking" of the sea; the stormy wind moved the sea, and the waves thereof; and both wind and sea shook the ship, and the men that were in it. Luke calls this tempest a "storm wind", ( Luke 8:23 ) and Mark says, it was "a great storm of wind", ( Mark 4:37 ) and both use the word "loelaps", which signifies a particular kind of wind, which is suddenly whirled about upwards and downwards; or rather, a conflict of many winds: it seems to be a whirlwind, or hurricane. It is said, that this tempest "arose", not by chance, nor by the power of Satan, but by divine providence; for the trial of the faith of Christ's disciples, and that he might have an opportunity of giving proof of his deity on the sea, as he had lately done in several instances on the dry land. Luke says, that this storm of wind "came down"; referring to the motion and course of the winds, which are exhalations from the earth, raised up into the middle region of the air, from whence they are expelled by a superior force to the lower region, and from thence move in an oblique, slanting manner, downwards. The place where this tempest arose, or into which this storm of wind came down, is here said to be
in the sea.
Luke calls it a "lake", and it was the lake of Genesareth. But both Matthew and Mark call it the sea, and is what is sometimes called the sea of Tiberias, and the sea of Galilee; see ( John 6:1 John 21:1 ) agreeably to the language of the Jewish F9 writers. To all this, the word "behold!" is prefixed; which is sometimes used, when anything extraordinary and preternatural is spoken of: and this storm seems to be more than an ordinary one; at least, it was very sudden and unexpected: when the disciples entered the ship, the air was serene, and the sea still and quiet; but as soon as they had set sail, at once, on a sudden, this storm came down, with great force into the sea, and lifted up its waves;
insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves;
it was just sinking to the bottom, so that they were in the utmost extremity: and what added to their distress was,
Mark mentions the place where he was asleep, "in the hinder part of the ship"; that is in the stern: where he, as Lord and Master, should be, though to the great concern of his disciples, there asleep; and that in a deep sound sleep, as the word which Luke makes use of signifies; and as appears by the loud repeated call of his disciples to awake him: and though this sleep doubtless arose from natural causes, he being greatly fatigued with the business of the day past; yet was so ordered by the providence of God, to come upon him in such a manner at this time, for the trial of the faith of his disciples. Christ's body needing sleep, and refreshment by it, shows that it was a real human body he assumed; subject to the same infirmities as our's; excepting sin; and is no contradiction to the truth of his divinity, as the Jew F11 suggests. He slept as man, though, as God, he is Israel's keeper, who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
F9 T. Bob. Moed. Katon, fol. 18. 2. Bava Kama, fol. 81. 2. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 86. 2.
F11 Vet. Nizzachon, p. 210.