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No particular description of the ships belonging to the Jews is given in scripture, but we may suppose them similar to the ships of the neighboring nations, which in those times differed very much from our ships. Even in the present day the ships of the Asiatics are different from ours, and, by attending to the accounts given by modern travellers, we may better understand the account of St. Paul's voyage, and other passages of scripture.
The trading vessels were, in general, much smaller than those common among us. Frequently they were less than fifty tons burden, and in such a vessel, sailing from Alexandria to Italy, St. Paul probably was embark. ed; though, as the size of the vessel is not stated, some authors
suppose it was much larger. But within this three hundred years, very small vessels were sent on long voyages. Some of Sir Francis Drake's vessels were only about thirty tons burthen. In the 27th chapter of the Acts we have an account of Paul's voyage, which shows how much less skilful the ancient sailors were than the moderns.
In those days the sailors had no compass, which, by pointing constantly towards the north, could direct their course at all times. They could only judge which way they were going by observing the sun and the stars ; so that, in cloudy weather, when neither appeared for many days, ver. 20. they were quite at a loss, and knew not which way they were sailing ; but they moved like a per. son walking with his eyes shut. This may remind us of the state of those who are ignorant of our blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The reader will recollect that He is compared to the sun. The compass may remind us of the scriptures, by which the christian is to direct his course, for it always points in one direction, even as the scriptures refer to Christ. It was then usual for vessels to lay by in harbor during the winter months, ver. 12. because they feared the dark, tempestuous nights and cloudy days. This the master of Paul's ship intended to do, but a storm came on and drove them out of their course.