Brent A. Strawn, «Jonah’s Sailors and Their Lot Casting: A Rhetorical-Critical Observation», Vol. 91 (2010) 66-76
Several considerations suggest that the sailors’ lot casting in Jonah 1 is unusual and meant to be both surprising and literarily delightful. The most important of these is the correspondence between the sailors and the Ninevites within the book’s rhetorical structure. This correspondence suggests that the sailors’ lot casting is a particularly Israelite practice with the sailors themselves appearing as adepts in Israelite ritual activity. That depiction corresponds to the Ninevites’ ability to know precisely how to repent in chapter 3. In both cases, the foreigners are portrayed in particularly pious ways in contrast to the reluctant prophet.