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Acts 27:14-15

Act 27:14  (NIV)

Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island.

Note 34: Different version.

I have been using the NIV as my beginning text throughout this blog.  For this particular verse, I have included two additional translations below.  The alternate translations add a slightly different perspective to the text. (NAS) is New American Standard and (KJV) is King James Version.  I have also taken the liberty to underline and number some of the particular phrases I want you to notice.  Yes, these read differently from each other, but they are not written to guide the reader to some religious point of view; they just phrase it in a way that the reader will best understand what the passages say.

Act 27:14  (NAS)

But before very long there (1) rushed down  from the land (2) a violent wind, (3) called Euraquilo;

Act 27:14  (KJV)

But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

Note 35: “Before very long…” (NIV)

Within a short time from leaving the anchorage a violent wind struck the ship.  It was not an uncommon event in the early days of sail for ships to be surprised by sudden storms.  Violent storms, like hurricanes, came upon ships quickly and have been known to sink entire fleets of ships.  Examples of such catastrophic events include the 1733 and 1622 Spanish treasure fleet that left Havana, Cuba and sank in the Florida Keys only 90 miles away.

Note 36: “…a violent wind…”(NAS)

Here Luke is describing the strength of the wind, particularly at this early point in the storm.  His description tells us it came on suddenly and with great force from the very beginning.  This is not unusual for large storms in the western Hemisphere, nor is it unusual in the eastern Mediterranean (according to my research).  There are three different descriptions of this wind offered in the alternate translations of this passage:  (1) “a wind of hurricane force”, (2)a tempestuous wind”, and (3) “a violent wind”.  Any of these three descriptions are adequate, but together they really tell you what the ship was hit with.  Notice that while they all describe the severity of the wind, they DO NOT label this a storm.  They do not say it is a Hurricane, but a “wind of Hurricane force”.

Note 37: “….called Euraquilo”

The word Northeaster used in the NIV version is an adequate word for us because we are more familiar with the storms called Northeasters.  However, the word “Northeaster” actually defines a particular type of cyclonic storm from the North Atlantic.  The word that Luke uses here is the word that would have been used by the sailors of the time, which is exactly why Luke selected it – it was accurate.  In this context, the word Euraquilo, probably comes from the Greek word ‘euros’, which is an ‘east wind,’ and Latin ‘aquilo’, which means ‘northeast wind’.  Hence you have “euraquilo”, an ‘east northeast wind’.

I know you are wondering why I am spending time talking about the name of the wind.  After all, we all know “They call the wind Maria” (Boy, I’m old). Actually, I am trying to show once again how accurate Luke is in the word he chooses.  They are nautically accurate, and were probably used by the sailors on this ship.  Also, focusing on the name of the wind explains how the ship could have ended up in the location I believe it sits today.  The wind described in the above passage was not a Northwest wind; it was an East-Northeast wind.  Amazingly, that would be the exact wind direction needed for this ship to somehow end up on the bottom of a bay in Malta which lies to the west of Crete.

Note 38: “swept down from the island”

The phrase “swept down from the island” has always given non-believers a problem.  They assume that this storm, or any storm, could not come “down from” the island.  The tallest mountain on Crete is named Mount Ida, or Mount Psiloritis in Greek.  It is about 8,060 feet high.  In Mythology, it is the mountain where Zeus was either born or raised.  Mountains can and do create their own weather systems.  They also deflect wind storms, rain, and snow and completely change weather patterns on the lee side.  This ship is on the lee side.

Acts 27:15  (NIV)

The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.

Note 39: The ship was caught by the storm

Luke uses a very descriptive phrase here: “The ship was caught by the storm”. For Luke to use this phrase would not be unique nor unusual, just a very accurate choice of words to describe the relationship between the storm and it’s effect on the vessel.  It almost sounds like a description of a predator and it’s prey.

How would you describe this same situation? The storm hit us hard, the ship was pounded, we were pushed from the stern, we were pounded, we had no control – what choice of words would you use?

Note 40: They could not head into the wind

Simply put they were unable to reverse course and retrace their path the few miles back to Fairhaven.  At this point, they may have still been within sight of land.

Note 41:  SO we gave way to it and were driven along.

In verse 13, I spent time discussing this phrase and how scary that phrase is to me.  Here is another translation, my version (the JMH version): “So we gave up and surrendered to its power and it controlled us from then on.”  Though I’m most likely not as precise as Luke in my word skills, I have read words like those in this verse from other survivors on other ships, in other centuries, and in all cases you can feel the sense the of dread carried by the writers of such words.  The words emit a sense of having no control.  To me, Luke’s description carries that same sense of hopelessness.

Unfortunately, things are only going to get worse.

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