The LORD God sends Jonah to Nineveh. Jonah runs in the opposite direction.
the LORD. When rendered in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, “LORD” or “GOD” is the translation of God’s Proper Name.
Jonah. The Hebrew word is יוֹנָ֥ה (“yō·w·nāh”). It means “dove.”
VERSE 2. “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim against it, for their wickedness has come up before me.”
go to Nineveh. Jonah hates the Ninevites. Yet the LORD God calls him to rescue the Ninevites.
It’s like a white supremacist being called to be the loving pastor of a Black church.
The city of Nineveh was built by Nimrod. After Jonah’s day, it became the capital of the Assyrian Empire under Sennacherib (705-681 BC).
It was located on the east side of the Tigris River. It was about 550 miles northeast of Samaria.
That distance required a journey of more than a month, if Jonah traveled the normal walking distance of 15-20 miles a day.
proclaim against it. That is, “preach” against it.
The precise message is revealed in chapter 3:
Jonah 3:4. Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried out, and said, “In forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown!”
VERSE 3. But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid its fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish. Instead of traveling northeast to Nineveh, Jonah flees by sea in the opposite direction.
Jonah runs away from the calling of the LORD God.
VERSE 4. But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty storm on the sea, so that the ship was likely to break up.
there was a mighty storm on the sea. By running away from the LORD God, Jonah created a storm in his life. And in the lives of other people.
When we run away from the LORD God, we create storms.
VERSE 5. Then the mariners were afraid, and every man cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone down into the innermost parts of the ship and he was laying down, and was fast asleep.
the mariners were afraid. These experienced sailors are afraid.
was fast asleep. There is an epic storm at sea, and Jonah is asleep.
This reminds us of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a great storm, people are terrified, and he is asleep:
Mark 4:38. [Jesus] himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion, and they woke him up, and told him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are dying?”
But there is a difference between Jonah and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jonah is indifferent about the wellbeing of the people he is with. The Lord Jesus Christ is quite concerned about our wellbeing.
VERSE 6. So the ship master came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God! Maybe your God will notice us, so that we won’t perish.”
the ship master came to him. The captain asks Jonah to pray.
your God. Or “your gods.”
VERSE 7. They all said to each other, “Come! Let’s cast lots, that we may know who is responsible for this evil that is on us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
this evil that is on us. The sailors conclude that somebody did something wrong, and that now they are all suffering from divine wrath.
the lot fell on Jonah. The lot falls on the disobedient prophet Jonah.
VERSE 8. Then they asked him, “Tell us, please, for whose cause this evil is on us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? Of what people are you?”
The sailors ask five questions:
- for whose cause this evil is on us.
- What is your occupation?
- Where do you come from?
- What is your country?
- Of what people are you?
But Jonah only answers the fifth question, as we see in the next verse:
VERSE 9. He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land.”
I am a Hebrew. Jonah only answers their fifth question. His people-group is the Hebrew people.
the God of heaven. The Hebrew word rendered “God” is אֱלֹהִ֑ים (“Elohim”).
VERSE 10. Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “What have you done?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
What have you done? The sailors sense that Jonah has disobeyed the One God.
VERSE 11. Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us?” For the sea grew more and more stormy.
What shall we do to you. The sailors want to take action.
VERSE 12. He said to them, “Take me up, and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will be calm for you; for I know that because of me this great storm is on you.”
throw me into the sea. Jonah realizes this great storm is due to his own disobedience.
To make things right, Jonah is willing to die.
VERSE 13. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to get them back to the land; but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them.
Nevertheless. The sailors don’t want to take Jonah’s life. So they try to row to land.
Contrast the sailors with Jonah. The sailors don’t want to take a human life. But Jonah lacks compassion for the Ninevites.
VERSE 14. Therefore they cried to the LORD, and said, “We beg you, LORD, we beg you, don’t let us die for this man’s life, and don’t lay on us innocent blood; for you, LORD, have done as it pleased you.”
threw him into the sea. In essence, they kill Jonah.
Is it ever OK to sacrifice a human? Is killing a human ever permitted?
the sea ceased its raging. This attests to the sailors doing the right thing.
VERSE 16. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly; and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.
the men feared the LORD. The Old Testament foresee Gentiles coming to faith in the One God of Israel and bringing gifts to Jerusalem. Here are the key Bible verses about this »
VERSE 17. The LORD prepared a huge fish to swallow up Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
a huge fish. It was possibly a sperm whale or a whale shark.
three days and three nights. The does not be understood as a 72-hour period.
Rather, it can also be one 24-hour day plus parts of two other days.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.