Sunday, January 29, 2012
In the apostle Paul’s day, why was it particularly hazardous to sail during certain times of the year?
▪ Because of unfavorable winds, a ship on which the apostle Paul was sailing spent considerable time trying to make its way westward along the coast of Asia Minor. At a certain point, says the Bible account, it became “hazardous to navigate because even the fast of atonement day had already passed.” Paul told his fellow travelers that any attempt to continue the voyage would be accompanied by the risk of loss “not only of the cargo and the boat but also of [their] souls.”—Acts 27:4-10.
The fast of Atonement Day fell in late September or early October. Roman mariners knew that voyages were generally safe from May 27 to September 14. Between this latter date and November 11, sailing was thought uncertain, and from November 11 through March 10, the sea was considered closed to general navigation. One reason, as Paul’s subsequent experience graphically illustrates, was the instability of the weather. (Acts 27:13-44) Sailors faced the risk of violent storms as well as greater difficulty when navigating. Clouds obscured the sun by day and the stars by night. Mist and rain also decreased visibility and hid potential hazards.