Acts 27:40
(40) And when they had taken up the anchors.--Better, And when they had cleared away (or, cut off) the anchors, they let them go into the sea. It is obvious that nothing would have been gained at such a juncture by encumbering the ship, which they were anxious to lighten as much as possible, with the weight of the four anchors. The meaning given above is accordingly more in harmony with the facts of the case as well as with the Greek, which does not warrant the insertion of the pronoun in "they committed themselves."

Loosed the rudder bands.--This was the necessary sequel to the previous operation. While the ship was anchored the two large paddle-like rudders with which ancient ships were furnished, were lifted up out of the water and lashed with ropes to the ship's side. When the ship was got under way again, and the rudders were wanted, the bands had to be loosed, and the rudders fell into the water.

And hoised up the mainsail to the wind.--The Greek term so rendered (artemon) is still found in Italian (artimone) and French for the largest sail of a ship. In the structure of ancient ships, however, this was the foresail, not, as with us, the mainsail. The word for wind is strictly the participle, the (breeze) that was blowing. The change of word seems to imply that there was a lull in the fury of the gale.

Made toward shore.--More accurately, were making for the beach, that which had been described in Acts 27:39.

Verse 40. - Casting off for when they had taken up, A.V.; they left them in the sea for they committed themselves unto the sea, A.V.; at the same time loosing the bands of the rudders for and loosed the rudder bands, A.V.; hoisting for hoised, A.V.; foresail for mainsail, A.V.; for the beach for toward shore, A.V. This verse, so obscure before, has been made intelligible by the masterly labors of Smith, of Jordan Hill. We will first explain the separate words. Casting off (περιελόντες). The verb περριαιρέω occurs in ver. 20; in 2 Corinthians 3:16; and in Hebrews 10:11; and in all those passages is rendered "taken away." So also in the LXX., where it is of frequent use, it means "take away," "put away," "remove," and the like. In classical Greek it means to "take away," "take off," "strip off." Here, then, applied to the anchors which were firmly embedded in the very strong clay at the bottom of the sea off Koura Point, περιελόντες τὰς ἀγκύρας means "putting away" or "casting off" the anchors by cutting the cables which fastened them to the ship, and, as it follows, leaving them in the sea, or, more literally, giving them up, dismissing them into the sea (εἴων εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν); comp. Acts 5:38. Loosing the bands of the rudders. "The ships of the Greeks and Romans, like those of the early Northmen were not steered by a single rudder, but by two paddle-rudders" (Howson, p. 310. See too an illustration from an ancient painting found at Herculaneum, in which the two paddle-rudders are very distinctly seen, at p. 346; and another illustration in Lewin, vol. it. p. 204, showing the two rudders and the foresail). These paddle-rudders had been hoisted up and lashed, lest they should foul the anchors at the stern. But now, when the free use of them was absolutely necessary to steer the ship toward the beach, they unloosed the lashings, i.e. "the bands of the rudders," and at the same time they hoisted up the foresail. The foresail; τὸν ἀρτέμονα, a word found only here in this sense, but used in Vitruvius for a "pulley," and so explained in Ducange. But artimon was till recently used in Venice and Genoa as the name of the large sail of a vessel. In the Middle Ages artimonium was the "foremast," mat de prone; but it was also used of the foresail," Velum naris breve, quod quia melius levari potest, in summo periculo extenditur" (Ducange). They hoisted the foresail both to give them sufficient way to run on to the beach, and to give precision to their steering. (For a further account of the ἀρτεμών, or foresail, see Smith, of Jordan Hill.)

27:39-44 The ship that had weathered the storm in the open sea, where it had room, is dashed to pieces when it sticks fast. Thus, if the heart fixes in the world in affection, and cleaving to it, it is lost. Satan's temptations beat against it, and it is gone; but as long as it keeps above the world, though tossed with cares and tumults, there is hope for it. They had the shore in view, yet suffered shipwreck in the harbour; thus we are taught never to be secure. Though there is great difficulty in the way of the promised salvation, it shall, without fail, be brought to pass. It will come to pass that whatever the trials and dangers may be, in due time all believers will get safely to heaven. Lord Jesus, thou hast assured us that none of thine shall perish. Thou wilt bring them all safe to the heavenly shore. And what a pleasing landing will that be! Thou wilt present them to thy Father, and give thy Holy Spirit full possession of them for ever.And when they had taken up the anchors,.... The four anchors they cast out of the stern, Acts 27:29 or "when they had cut the anchors", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; that is, had cut the cables to which the anchors were fastened:

they committed themselves unto the sea; or left them, the anchors, in the sea; or committed the ship to the sea, and themselves in it, endeavouring to steer its course to the place they had in view:

and loosed the rudder bands; by which the rudder was fastened to the ship.---The rudder, in navigation, is a piece of timber turning on hinges in the stern of a ship, and which opposing sometimes one side to the water, and sometimes another, turns or directs the vessel this way or that. The rudder of a ship is a piece of timber hung on the stern posts, by four or five iron hooks, called "pintles", serving as it were for the bridle of a ship, to turn her about at the pleasure of the steersman.---The rudder being perpendicular, and without side the ship, another piece of timber is fitted into it at right angles, which comes into the ship, by which the rudder is managed and directed: this latter is properly called the "helm" or "tiller", and sometimes, though improperly, the rudder itself.---A narrow rudder is best for a ship's sailing, provided she can feel it; that is, be guided and turned by it, for a broad rudder will hold much water when the helm is put over to any side; yet if a ship has a fat quarter, so that the water cannot come quick and strong to her rudder, she will require a broad rudder.---The aftmost part of the rudder is called the "rake" of the rudder. This is the account of a rudder with the moderns (z): with the ancients, the parts of the rudder were these, the "clavus" or "helm", by which the rudder was governed; the pole of it; the wings or the two breadths of it, which were as wings, and the handle: some ships had but one rudder, most had two, and some three, and some four; those that had but one, seemed to have it in the middle of the stern; and those that had two had them on the sides, not far from the middle; and there were some ships which had them not only in the stern, but also in the prow or head of the ship (a): that the ancients had sometimes more rudders than one in a ship, has been abundantly proved by Bochartus and Scheherus; take only an instance or two. The Carthaginians, as (b) Aelianus reports, decreed two governors to every ship saying it was absurd that it should have , "two rudders", and that he who was most useful to the sailors, and had the government of the ship, should be alone, and without successor and companion; and so Apuleius (c) says, the ship in which we were carried was shook by various storms and tempests, "utroque regimine amisso", and having lost both its rudders, sunk at the precipice. Some of the Indian ships have three rudders; that of Philopator's had four rudders: how many this ship had, in which the apostle was, cannot be said: but this is certain, that it had more than one; for the words are, "and loosed the bands of the rudders"; and since it is a clear case, that the ships of the ancients had more rudders than one to each, there is no need to suppose a figure in the text, and that the plural number is used for the singular, as Beza thinks: and "the bands" of them were those by which they were fastened; and they were "loosed", as Schefferus conjectures, because when the anchors were cast out, they fastened the rudders higher, that they might not be broken by the dashing of the waves, especially as they were in a storm; but now having taken up the anchors, they loosed these bands: and certain it is, that not only oars but rudders were fastened with cords or ropes to the ship (d): according to the notion of modern navigation, the rudder band might be thought to be the rope which is turned round the tiller, and made fast to the ship's side, and as the tiller is moved, "surges" round the end of the tiller; and very likely might be made fast, when the ship was at anchor, on one side, to keep the ship from breaking her sheer; but now being loosed, and the helm "a midship", and the mainsail hoisted, the ship ran to the shore before the wind.

And hoised up the main sail to the wind: which they had before struck or let down, Acts 27:17. The main sail is that which is upon the main mast. The Ethiopic version renders it, "the great sail". The great sail was that which is called "acatius", which is another word than is here used: so Isidore (e) says "acatius" is the greatest sail, and is placed in the middle of the ship; "epidromos" is the next in size, and is placed at the stern; and "dolon" is the least sail, and is fixed at the head: and both the Syriac and Arabic versions here render it, "the little sail"; and which sailors put up when they are afraid to use large sails, which would carry too much wind; but the word here used is "artemo", which the above writer says is commended rather for the sake of directing the ship, than for swiftness. And this seems to be the use that was now made of it, namely, to guide the ship into the creek or bay.

And made toward the shore; which was in the creek, or to the haven in it.

(z) Chambers's Cyclopaedia in the word "rudder". (a) Scheffer. de Militia Navali Vetorum, l. 2. c. 5. p. 145, 146. (b) Var Hist. l. 9. c. 40. (c) Metamorphos. l. 2. p. 24. (d) Vegetus apud Scheffer. de Militia Navali Veterum, l. 2. c. 5. p. 139. (e) Originum, l. 19. c. 3. p. 163.

Acts 27:39
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