Why was it necessary for the sailors to pick Jonah up and throw him into the sea (1:12, 15) instead of him just jumping? It almost sounds like he is handicapped somehow, but then he does other things like going down into the hold of the ship, apparently by himself. He also builds a shelter in chapter 4. Was he just so afraid that he couldn’t jump into the water? Even then I would expect a mob of sailors could pressure him into jumping without physically picking him up and throwing him. Thoughts?
Self murder (suicide) is sinful according to Exodus 20:13. Jonah believed that if he went from the ship into the sea, that he would die and the storm would cease. However, if he jumped himself, that would be sinful since it would be suicide. Instead, he told the sailors to cast himself into the sea.
In the same way, Jesus willfully died on the cross but did not commit suicide. The Roman soldiers executed Jesus.
The parallels between Jonah and Jesus are numerous.
I read this is a literary theme in the Bible, namely that we pass into darkness passively (by outside forces) and deliverance happens by God.
When viewed in the context of this template, we see why Jonah would be passive (needs to be thrown overboard) rather than actively jumping in. Indeed, even though the book of Jonah records his actions, from the moment of his deep sleep (a metaphor for death) he stops being the actor and becomes the acted upon until his deliverance. I encourage you to re-read 1.5-2.9 and observe the amount of passivity. He does nothing except confess who he is and then, once in the depths, hope for deliverance.
Abraham, from the moment of his deep sleep, experiencing the horror of great darkness, takes no part in the momentous covenant and oath swearing. God does all the work of swearing the covenant with himself. Gen 15.12-21
Joseph is completely passive when thrown into the pit. There is not even a record of him complaining or trying to free himself. Gen 37.18-28.
The Israelites were expelled from Egypt by Pharoah after the death of the firstborn, they did not choose to leave. During the epic battle between Moses and Pharoah, the Israelites themselves were passive and made no decisions for themselves, all the action was a battle between Moses/God and Pharoah.
Jesus was crucified by the Romans. He did not answer in his own defense or try to free himself, nor did he take actions to take his own life. The crucifiction is a picture of passivity. This is another aspect of why his death and resurrection was the sign of Jonah. This is the "led" part of the sheep being led to the slaughter.
7Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
With lots, the sailors found out that Jonah had something to do with the storm that was threatening their lives.
8 So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
9 He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
The sailors learned that the Lord made the sea and control the sea.
10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
11The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
The sailors had to appease the God who stirred up the storm. How?
12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
Why did the sailors have to pick Jonah up?
The sailors had to perform an act to appease the Lord.