The Conundrum of ḥtr in Jonah 1:13

in Vetus Testamentum
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In this short note I wish to suggest that all the most obvious suggestions as to the significance of חתר in Jonah 1:13 make the verse more, not less, curious, and that the use of חתר in this context is not simply over-ebullient writing or a clunky metaphor (as commentators tend to suggest) but a genuine lexical conundrum with literary implications for the chapter. The extant Hebrew term is relatively unusual, not directly descriptive of the action of rowing (a function which several more common Hebrew terms for digging would perform nicely), and cuts across the other nautical knowledge evidenced in the chapter. Is there a literary explanation for the word choice that does not do violence to the chapter or stretch readerly credulity?

Vetus Testamentum

A Quarterly Published by the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament




Sasson, Jonah, p. 97-98; Wolff, Obadiah and Jonah, p. 122


Krantz, Des Schiffes Weg Mitten im Meer, p. 32.


Sasson, Jonah, pp. 90-91; Wolff, Obadiah and Jonah, p. 102.


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