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Drowning is loss of life caused by immersion in water (usually). It's a tragedy that happens to many people each day all around the world (earth's surface is about 70% water). The ancient world also knew drowning as a means of capital punishment. In the time of the New Testament it was used by the Syrians, and the people of Israel were familiar with it themselves - Jesus Christ referred to execution by drowning in His warning "whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6 RSV)

Drowning In Bible History

Sea of Galilee The greatest drowning during Bible History was of course The Flood:

"And the waters prevailed so mightily upon the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; the waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, birds, cattle, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm upon the earth, and every man; everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark." (Genesis 7:19-23 RSV) (see also How Big Was Noah's Ark?)

Perhaps the second-most famous Biblical drownings were Pharoah's troops at the time of the Exodus:

"Then The Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen." So Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its wonted flow when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled into it, and The Lord routed the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not so much as one of them remained." (Exodus 14:26-28 RSV)

On at least two occasions, some of the apostles, some of whom were fishermen (whose foremost occupational hazard was drowning) were miraculously saved:

"And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea [i.e. The Sea Of Galilee], so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep. And they went and woke Him, saying, "Save, Lord; we are perishing." And He said to them, "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?" Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?" (Matthew 8:24-27 RSV)

"But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately He spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear." And Peter answered Him, "Lord, if it is You, bid me come to You on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." Jesus immediately reached out His hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:26-33 RSV)

Fact Finder: How was a herd of pigs drowned in an incident in which Jesus Christ cast out demons?
Matthew 8:28-32

This Week's Bible Quiz

What is the missing word? (Revised Standard Version)

1. "But He answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by _______ alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)

2. "leaving Nazareth He went and dwelt in _______ by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled" (Matthew 4:13-14)

3. "As He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and _______ his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen." (Matthew 4:18)

4. "And He went about all Galilee, teaching in their _______ and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people." (Matthew 4:23)

5. "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the _______ who were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12)

6. "When He entered the house, the blind men came to Him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord." Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your _______ be it done to you." (Matthew 9:28-29)

7. "For as _______ was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40)

8. "For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of _______, his brother Philip's wife; because John said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." (Matthew 14:3)

9. "I tell you, it is easier for a _______ to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24)

10. "Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him shouted, "_______ to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!" (Matthew 21:8-9)

For the answers to this March 11 2003 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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