Acts 27:16

Running under the lee of (upodramonte). Second aorist active participle of upotrecw. Same use of upo as in upepleusamen (verses Acts 4 8 ) for "under the lee", under the protection of. Nhsion is diminutive of nhso, a small island. The MSS. vary between Cauda (B) and Clauda (Aleph). To secure the boat (perikratei genesqai th skaph). "To become masters (perikratei from peri and krato, power over, found in Susannah and ecclesiastical writers, and here only in N.T.) of the boat ("dug out," like Indian boats, literally, from skaptw, to dig, old word, here only in N.T. and verses Acts 30 32 ). The smooth water behind the little island enabled them to do this. When they had hoisted it up (hn arante). "Which (the little boat) having hoisted up (arante, verse Acts 13 )." Even so it was "with difficulty" (moli). Perhaps the little boat was waterlogged. Used helps (bohqeiai ecrwnto). Imperfect middle of craomai with instrumental case. The "helps" were ropes or chains, no doubt. Under-girding the ship (upozwnnunte to ploion). Present active participle of upozwnnumi. Old verb, here only in N.T. Probably cables (upozwmata) or ropes were used under the hull of the ship laterally or even longitudinally, tightly secured on deck. This "frapping" was more necessary for ancient vessels because of the heavy mast. The little island made it possible to do this also. Lest we be cast upon the Syrtis (mh ei thn Surtin ekpeswsin). Final clause after verb of fearing (poboumenoi) with mh and the second aorist active subjunctive of ekpiptw, old verb to fall out or off, to be cast away. So here and verses Acts 26 29 , a classical use of the verb for a ship driven out of its course on to shoals or rocks (Page who cites Xenophon, Anab. VII. 5, 12). The Syrtis was the name for two quicksands between Carthage and Cyrenaica, this clearly being the Syrtis Major most dangerous because of the sandbanks (surti, from surw). The wind would drive the ship right into this peril if something were not done. They lowered the gear (calasante to skeuo). First aorist active participle of calaw (cf. Luke 5:4 for lowering the nets). Skeuo means vessel or gear. They slackened or reduced sail, especially the mainsail, but leaving enough to keep the ship's head as close to the wind as was practicable. So were driven (outw eperonto). Imperfect passive indicative again as in verse Luke 15 with the addition of outw (thus). The ship was now fixed as near to the wind (E N E) as possible (seven points). That would enable the ship to go actually W by N and so avoid the quicksands. J. Smith has shown that, a day being lost around Cauda, the ship going 36 miles in 24 hours in 13 days would make 468 miles. The Island of Malta (Melita) is precisely in that direction (W by N) from Cauda and is 480 miles. Page sees a difficulty about this explanation of the steady drift of the ship in the word diaperomenon in verse Luke 27 , but that was at the end of the drifting and the varied winds could have come then and not before. The whole narrative as explained carefully in Smith's Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul is a masterpiece of precise and accurate scholarship. A resume of his results appears in my Luke the Historian in the Light of Research.