The waters compassed me about even to the soul - Words which to others were figures of distress (Psalms 69:2. See the introduction to Jonah), "the waters have come even to the soul," were to Jonah realities. Sunk in the deep seas, the water strove to penetrate at every opening. To draw breath, which sustains life, to him would have been death. There was but a breath between him and death. "The deep encompassed me," encircling, meeting him wherever he turned, holding him imprisoned on every side, so that there was no escape, and, if there otherwise had been, he was bound motionless, "the weed was wrapped around my head, like a grave-band." "The weed" was the well known seaweed, which, even near the surface of the sea where man can struggle, twines round him, a peril even to the strong swimmer, entangling him often the more, the more he struggles to extricate himself from it. But to one below, powerless to struggle, it was as his winding sheet.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Jonah 2:5:
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