It's written that the people who traveled with Jonah on the ship, decided to cast lots, and then the lot fell upon Jonah.

And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

Could it be that their lots were a little bit different from what most people think? And the word 'fell down' symbolizing reality of which lots really were somehow fell down during the procedure?

  • 2
    This is a figure of speech in English. 'It fell to his lot' means it became part of his responsibility. 'The lot fell upon' only means that the choosing of straws (or whatever means was used to draw lots) happened to come out in Jonah's favour. Lots are 'cast' and lots 'fall' is merely a figure of speech.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 5:25

2 Answers 2


The wording in John 1:7 is simple.

וַיִּפֹּ֥ל הַגֹּורָ֖ל עַל־יֹונָֽה (MT)

and the lot fell on Jonah

Casting lots is an ancient way of drawing straws, and it implicated Jonah as the guilty party. -- Howerton, M. (2012). Glorious mess: encountering god’s relentless grace for imperfect people. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

“Fugitivus hic sorte deprehenditur, non viribus sortium, sed voluntate ejus, qui sortes regebat incertas” (Hieronymus.) [The fugitive is detected by lot, not from any virtue in lots themselves, but by the will of Him, who governs uncertain lots.] -- Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Kleinert, P., & Elliott, C. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Jonah (p. 19). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Senses in MT

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Let's see the context, Jonah 1:

3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

They were on a ship.

4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.

Their footing was extremely unstable. They would not be throwing dice onto the ship deck.

7 Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.”

Whatever the casting procedure, it was a fair one that was acceptable by everyone. Proverbs 16:33 sheds some light on this procedure:

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Pulpit explains:

The lot is cast into the lap. The bosom or fold of the garment. It is not quite clear what articles the Jews used in their divinations by lot. Probably they employed stones, differing in shape or colour, or having some distinguishing mark. These were placed in a vessel or in the fold of a garment, and drawn or shaken thence. Such a practice has been common in all ages and countries;

Back to Jonah:

They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.

Jonah might have just drawn the offending stone from the lap fold garment of the captain.

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