Jonah (Ch 1-2)

The Book of Jonah is a historical account of the chief events connected with the sending of Jonah to Nineveh. It abounds in miraculous circumstances, such as that of the great fish in whose stomach the life of the prophet was preserved, of the terrible storm sent by God, which died down as soon as the prophet had been delivered to the waves.

The period in which Jonah lived was approximately that of the prophets Amos and Hosea in the northern kingdom and of Isaiah and Micah in the southern kingdom. The story of Jonah is not just a microcosm for Judah or Israel, but a microcosm of the whole human experience.

Jonah 1

1 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, — “The word of the Lord” signifies a prophecy from the Lord of hosts; and so the Targum renders it, “the word of prophecy from the Lord” and it may be so interpreted, since Jonah, under a spirit of prophecy foretold that Nineveh should be destroyed within forty days; though the phrase here rather signifies the order and command of the Lord to the prophet to do as is expressed in the next verse;

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” — Nineveh was the metropolis of the Assyrian empire at that time; it was an ancient city built by Ashur, not by Nimrod; though he by some is said to go into Ashur or Assyria, and build it, Genesis 10:11;

— and cry against it; or prophesy against it as the Targum says; Jonah was to lift up his voice and cry aloud as he passed along in it that the inhabitants might hear him; and the more to affect them and to show that he was in earnest and what he delivered was concerning them, of greatest importance: what he was to cry or preach, see Jonah 3:2;

— for their wickedness is up before me; it was a very great height; even unto the heavens; it called aloud for immediate judgement; the inhabitants ripe for destruction; it was committed openly and boldly with much impudence in the sight of the Lord and was no more to be suffered and connived at: it includes idolatry, bloodshed, oppression, rapine, fraud and lying; see Jonah 3:8.

But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord; and he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. — Jonah was not obedient to the heavenly vision; he rose up, but instead of going to Nineveh, he intended to go to Tarshish; the reverse of it; to the sea as the Targum says, the Mediterranean sea, which lay west as Nineveh was to the east;

— and went down to Joppa; formerly called Japho; a seaport town in the tribe of Dan upon the Mediterranean sea where there was a haven of ships; and Tarshish could be in the southern coast of Spain.

But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was likely to be broken. — winds are an instrument of God which he commands at his pleasure, and fulfil his will and this was sent in pursuit of Jonah to stop him in his voyage when he thought he had got clear off and was safe enough;

Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea to lighten it of them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner parts of the ship, and he lay and was fast asleep. — then the sailors were afraid; perceiving that the storm was not ordinary but a supernatural one; and that the ship and all in it were in extreme danger and no probability of being saved; as the storm must be very violent to frighten such men who were used to such storms and were naturally bold and intrepid.

So the shipmaster came to him and said unto him, “What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God, if it so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.” — so the shipmaster came to him and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? Why should he withdraw at the time of this great peril? Arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us that we shouldn’t perish, by lending them His assistance and rescuing them from the impending destruction.

And they said every one to his fellow, “Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. — after Jonah had obeyed the call of the captain, everyone said to his fellow, Come and let us cast lots, a common method of determining the guilt of men at that time, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon them, who was to blame for the present condition of affairs. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

Then said they unto him, “Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us: What is thine occupation? And from whence comest thou? What is thy country? And of what people art thou?” — then they said unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us, who and what was responsible for this condition of affairs. What is thine occupation? his business, which might have been of a nature to arouse the wrath of God. 

— and whence are you from, from what nation and people? What is thy country? And of what people art thou? The questions are shouted in a confused mass, as always under the stress of great emotion.

And he said unto them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who hath made the sea and the dry land.” — and he said unto them, in a confession of his guilt, I am an Hebrew, the usual name applied to the people of Israel by the surrounding nations; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, worshiping Him alone, which hath made the sea and the dry land, the one Creator of the world and all it contained.

10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, “Why hast thou done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. — then the men were exceedingly afraid, filled with terror at the scope of this confession, which showed them that they were, although unwittingly, assisting Jonah in his effort to escape the Lord, 

— and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? a cry of horror and fear more than a question, for the God of the Hebrews was known as a powerful Deity. For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them, even non-Hebrews quake at any evidence of the wrath of God, much as they otherwise scoff at those who worship Him.

11 Then said they unto him, “What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. — then they asked him, What shall we do unto thee that the sea may be calm unto us? What would Jonah himself suggest or advise in order to turn away the wrath of God from those who were not implicated in his guilt?. For the sea wrought, continued to rage, and was tempestuous, still rising in angry billows.

12 And he said unto them, “Take me up and cast me forth into the sea. So shall the sea be calm unto you, for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.” — and Jonah said unto them, showing the right spirit in offering himself up as a sacrifice in their behalf, Take me up and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you, be quieted down; for Jonah knew that for his sake this great tempest is upon them.

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not, for the sea was wrought up and was tempestuous against them. — nevertheless the men, not desiring to carry out the prophet’s suggestion, rowed hard to bring it to the land, that is, they tried everything they knew in the line of seamanship in order to break through the billows which hemmed in the ship; but they could not, for the sea was raging and was tempestuous against them so that they could make no headway against the surging waves.

14 Therefore they cried unto the Lord and said, “We beseech Thee, O Lord, we beseech Thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood! For Thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased Thee.” — wherefore they cried unto the Lord, in this case addressing Yehovah, His true name, and said, We beseech Thee, O Lord Yehovah, we beseech Thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, be held accountable for the fact that they would now deliver him to what appeared to them a certain death,

— and lay not upon us innocent blood, by imputing it to them, since Jonah had not harmed them in any manner; for Thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased Thee; He had determined it, the lot, as directed by Him, made the execution necessary.

15 So they took up Jonah and cast him forth into the sea, and the sea ceased from her raging. — so they took Jonah and cast him into the sea; and the sea ceased from raging, it stood still and no longer rose in such tremendous billows.

16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord and made vows. — then the sailors, seeing in this as the almighty hand of God, feared the Lord exceedingly and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord and made vows, possibly a vow that the God of the Hebrews should be their God, and that they would for the future serve and worship him only; that they would become proselytes, as men will under the stress of such a fear and emotion.

17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. — now, the Lord had prepared a great fish, not a whale, but a special sea-monster, to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, being alive and conscious through the power of the Lord, whose plans called for a further use of this prophet.

Jonah 2

Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, — then amidst agonies, stinks of the fish’s stomach, sufferings and near death, Jonah prayed unto the Lord out of the fish’s belly, his prayers occurring again and again during his awful experience,

— the story of Jonah is not just an archetype for human being like himself or even for the children of Israel, but an archetype that the whole human race could one day face.

and said: “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me. Out of the belly of hell cried I, and Thou heardest my voice. — and Jonah cried by reason of his affliction, out of the midst of the distress which he was suffering, unto the Lord, and God heard him; out of the belly of hell, literally, “out of the womb of sheol,” the realm of death, cried Jonah, and He heard his voice, delivering him from what seemed to be certain destruction, Cf Psalms 18:6Psalms 30:4.

For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas, and the floods compassed me about; all Thy billows and Thy waves passed over me. — for the Lord had cast Jonah into the deep, the sailors on the ship being but the executors of the punishment placed upon him by the Lord in the midst of the seas, literally, “into the heart of the oceans” and the floods compassed him about, namely, as he sank to the bottom; all Thy billows and Thy waves passed over him. Cf Psalms 42:8.

Then I said, ‘I am cast out of Thy sight; yet I will look again toward Thy holy temple.’ — then Jonah said, I am cast out of Thy sight, under the eye of his omniscience, which saw him in the fish’s belly; yet Jonah will look again toward God’s holy Temple, certain that he would again be permitted to worship with the Lord’s people.

The waters compassed me about, even to the soul; the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. — the waters compassed Jonah about, even to the soul, so that he was ready to despair of his life, Cf Psalms 18:5Psalms 69:2; the depth closed him round about; Jonah in the fish’s stomach were wrapped around his head, the seaweeds, of which there are great quantities from the sea apparently, enclosing him so that he could hardly move;

— so the Targum says, “the waters surrounded me unto death.” In this Jonah was an archetype for any other human being trapped in his afflictions and sorrows, which were so many and heavy before repentance, that he is said to be “exceeding sorrowful” or surrounded with sorrow, “even unto death.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever; yet hast Thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. — Jonah went down to the bottoms of the sea-mounts, the very depths of the ocean abyss, where the mountains have their foundations; the earth with her bars, the walls of the sea-basin, was about him forever; yet God brought up his life from the pit which threatened to be his grave, ‘O Lord, my God,’ he pleaded.

“When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine holy temple. — when Jonah’s soul fainted within him, when he was at the point of yielding to the night of death, he remembered the Lord; and his prayer came in unto Thee, like a petitioner presenting his appeal in person, into Thine holy Temple, where the Lord had promised to hear those who put their trust in Him;

They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy, — they that observe lying vanities or in riches, or placing their trust in idols and in false worship, forsake their own mercy, deliberately abandon their one hope of deliverance, namely, through the loving-kindness and tender mercies of Yehovah.

but I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” — but Jonah pledged to sacrifice unto God with the voice of thanksgiving, loudly proclaiming his gratitude for mercies received, Psalms 42:5; Jonah will pay that what he have vowed. Cf Psalms 50:14-23. Salvation is of the Lord, it belongs to Yehovah, it is in His power. He alone can grant deliverance from all evil.

10 And the Lord spoke unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. — and the Lord spoke unto the fish, giving it a definite command, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land, very likely back on the coast of Joppa, where he started.

— the story of Jonah is not just an archetype for human being like himself or even for Israel, but an prophecy of an archetype of bringing repentance for the whole human race. And the lying vanities” “could mean the false worshipping of

~ by Joel Huan on February 6, 2022.

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