JONAH THE STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK AS A WHOLE
G A 1:1. The Word of Yahaveh.
B 1:2. Mission to Nineveh.
C 1:3. Jonah. Disobedience.
D 1:4-2:10. Consequences. Resurrection of Jonah.
A 3:1. The Word of Yahaveh.
B 3:2. Mission to Nineveh.
C 3:3,4-. Jonah.
D 3:-4-11. Consequences. Correction of Jonah.Obedience.
The clue to the date is given in 1:1: which, by comparison to 2 Kings 14:25, falls within the time of Jeroboam II and the earlier years of Uzziah: therefore about 690 B.C.
Modern critics are practically unanimous in declaring the book is a "combination of allegory and myth". But the fact that Jonah the prophet was a historic personage is settled by 2 Kings 14:25. And the fact that the prophecy, with its great miracle, was referred to by Christ as a type of Himself, places the book in as high a position as any other prophecy.
The Century Bible says that "we are not to conclude that the literal validity of the history of Jonah established by this reference [see Matt. 12:40]. But, apart from the fact that the Lord referred to the Queen of Sbeba in the very next sentence, and thus places Jonah on the same level of "literary validity", the question is placed beyond all controversy by the further fact that 7 times in John's Gospel the Lord declared that every one of His words that He uttered was given Him to speak by the Father. Those who strike at these words of Christ are striking at God Himself, and are making the whole of Divine Revelation of none effect. All the puerile and fanciful assumptions used for arguments are swept away with one stroke, and are overwhelmed by this decisive and conclusive fact. Modern critics must now perforce find the answers to their own objections. We need not be at the pains to repeat the refutation of their assumption, that, because certain words have not been required or necessitated by the subjects of the earlier Scriptures, therefore such words did not exist before, and are thus evidences of the book's being written at a later period of time. Only a mind already hostile could invent such a proposition, and only those who are ignorant of "the laws of evidence" could make use of it.
The prophecy of Jonah is literal history, and is besides a twofold type.
(1) He was a type of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord: see Matt. 12:40, where the "as" and the "so" are sufficient to show us that a man's being miraculously kept alive for a particular period can be no type of another's being dead and buried for the same period.
As our Lord was raised from the dead at the end of that period , so Jonah must have been, as miraculously, raised from the dead.
Jonah's prayer could have been uttered in the last few moments of life. In any case the words of the prayer were not written down till after he had been vomited up alive [Jonah 2:1-10].
(2) "As Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of Man be to this generation" [Luke 11:30].
That generation was as grieved and angry at the faith and repentance of those to whom the resurrection of our Lord was proclaimed, as Jonah was at the repentance of the Ninevites.
Both these types were hidden in history by the One Who knew the end from the beginning, and are declared to be so by Him of Whom Yehovah said, "I will put My words in His mouth".
7 times in John's Gospel our Lord testified to the fulfillment of that promise:-
"My doctrine [i.e. teaching] is not Mine, but His that sent Me" [7:16].
"As My Father has taught Me, I speak these things" [8:28].
"Why do you not believe Me? He that is of God hears God's words: you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God" [8:46,47].
"I have not spoken of [or from] Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" [12:49].
"The words that I speak to you I speak not of [i.e. from] Myself: but the Father that dwells in Me" [14:10].
"The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's Which sent Me" [14:24].
"I have given to them the words which You [the Father] gave Me" [17:8.]
The Century Bible may say: "It is humiliating for a commentator to collect doubtful stories of sailors swallowed by sharks and vomited out alive". There is truth in this. But if we recognize the fact that the word "alive", includes the thought of resurrection, then we have ample evidence that this is conveyed, and taught by the "as" and "so" in Matt. 12:40. In any case we have to remember the words of Yehovah in Deut. 18:18,19: "I will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I shall command Him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken to My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him." We leave the question with these solemn words: "I will require it of him."
The notes will show us Jonah, not as a wayward, thoughtless child, but as a "man of God", willing to sacrifice himself [mistakenly, of course] in order to save his nation. He knew that Assyria at that time was in great difficulties. There is a silence of 18 years in Assyrian history at that time [18 in Biblical numerics = bondage], and the surrounding nations were beginning to assert themselves. Jonah had just been commissioned to encourage Israel to a restored position [2 Kings 14:25,26]. He must have known also that Nineveh [Assyria] was to be Yehovah's rod of judgment for Israel. He knew the well-known character of Yahaveh, and feared that if he made Yahaveh's proclamation Nineveh might repent, and her overthrow be averted. See Yahaveh's words [4;2].
If, however, for the sake of his nation, he did not make the proclamation at all, Nineveh might be overthrown and Israel saved. He was mistaken, and had to be corrected [ch. 4:4-11].
The great lesson of the book is - not "Yahaveh's care for children and cattle", &c., but that the devices of man shall not frustrate His purpose, and that what He has said shall surely come to pass.
This is the lesson which gives to the book a dignity and importance which is worthy of it, and of its place in the Word of God.
Jonah = dove. See 2 Kings 14:25. Jonah is an example that if God chooses a person, He is going to use them whether they like it or not. God's Elect.
1 Now the word of the LORD (Yahaveh) came (this statement is unanswerable, and covers the truth of the whole contents of this book) to Jonah (Jonah is the prophet named and described in 2 Kings 14:25. He was a native of Gath-hepher, now el Meshhed, 3 miles north-east of Nazareth. Nazareth was in Galilee. The statement of the Pharisees in John 7:52 was not true.) the son of Amittai (= the truth of Yehovah. See 2 Kings 14:25), saying,
2 "Arise, go to Nineveh (God had chosen this nation to scatter the 10 northern tribes of Israel. Cp. Gen. 10:11,12. Mentioned again in 3:2,3; 4:11. The capital of Assyria, on the left bank of the Tigris. Called 1st Nina, from the patron goddess of the city; of Babylonian origin; founded by a colony from Nina in South Babylonia. Khammarubi, 1915 B.C. spells it Ni-nu-a. Excavations reveal "the mound of Nebi-Yumus crowned by the tomb of Jonah, which could not then be then be explored), that great city, and cry against it (not whisper or cry softly, but cry, as making a general proclamation. Cp. Judg. 7:3,20. Isa. 58:1. Joel 3:9. Amos 4:5,&c. Cp. also vv.2,6; 3:2); for their wickedness is come up before Me." (Nineveh was noted for violence and cruelty of all kinds, recorded in its own bas-reliefs, &c. See Nah. 2:8-13. Ref. Gen. 18:20,21.)
3 But Jonah rose up to flee (Jonah knew that Assyria was to be God's sword of judgment against Israel. If Nineveh perished, Israel might be saved. God's mercy might arrest this overthrow of Nineveh. Was this is why Jonah would sacrifice himself to save his nation. This would explain his flight here, and his displeasure, as clearly stated in 4:1-3. When he said [v.12], "Take me up", &c., he had counted the cost. He confesses to the men [vv.9,10], but not to God. He gave his live to save his People. The type of Christ may have begun here. See Gal. 3:13; and cp. Rom. 9:1-3) to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa (now Joffa. Cp. Josh. 19:46. 2 Chron. 2:16. Acts 9:36); and he found a ship Heb. 'aniyah = any large merchant ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof (and counted the cost of his flight), and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. (You can't run from God.)
1:4-2:10. CONSEQUENCES. RESURRECTION.
D A 1:4-15. Jonah's punishment.
B 1:16. Sacrifice and Vows of Mariners.
C 1:17. The Fish.
A 2:1-7. Jonah's Prayer and Thanksgiving.
B 2:8,9. Sacrifice and Vow.
C 2:10. The Fish. Ejection.
1:4-15. JONAH'S PUNISHMENT.
A D F 4-. The Tempest.
G -4. Danger.
E H 5,6. Prayer of Mariners.
J 7-12. Jonah. Self-sacrifice.
D G 13-. Danger.
F -13. The Tempest.
E H 14. Prayer of Mariners.
J Jonah. Death.
4 But the LORD sent out a great wind (Heb. ruach) into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, (God is in control.)
so that the ship was thought to be broken.
5 Then the mariners (= salts, Heb. mallach) were afraid, and cried in prayer every man to his god, and cast forth the tackling that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down below deck (or cabins. Cp. Ezek. 32:23. Amos 6:10) of the deck; and he lay, and was fast asleep. (He didn't care what happened to him, he was sacrificing himself for this purpose.)
6 So the chief of the rope (Phoenician for captain. See 2 Kings 25:8. Est. 1:8. Dan. 1:3) came to him, and said to him, "What mean you, O sleeper? arise, call upon you God (Elohim [with 'eth] = the true God), if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not."
1:7-12. JONAH. SELF-SACRIFICE.
J a1 7-. Mariners. Counsel. Casting of lots.
b1 -7. Jonah taken.
a2 8. Mariners. Inquiry.
b2 9. Jonah. Confession.
a3 10,11. Mariners. Fear.
b3 12. Jonah. Determination.
7 And they said every one to his fellow, "Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this calamity is upon us."
So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.
8 Then said they to him, "Tell us, we pray you, for what cause this calamity is upon us (the lot had told them the person, but not the "cause". So they appeal to Jonah); What is your occupation? and where do you come from? what is your country? and of what people are you?" (Could you answer this?)
9 And he said to them (he does not tell them all. We find the real reason in 4:1-3), "I am a Hebrew (referring to the language spoken. A title used in relation to foreigners [Gen. 40:15. Ex. 3:18,&c.); and I revere the LORD, the God of heaven (the title in relation to the Creator's creatures. See 2 Chron. 36:23), Which has made the sea and the dry land." (See Gen. 1:1,10.)
10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid (feared a great fear), and said to him. "Why have you done this?" (They knew the the fact of his flight, but not the reason, which is not revealed till 4:1-3. This is not therefore "a latter edition", as alleged) For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
11 Then said they to him, "What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us? for the sea grew more and more tempestuous." (This group of heathens seem to have common sense.)
12 And he said to them, "Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm to you: for I know (he had counted the cost) that for my sake this great tempest is upon you."
13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it back to the land (the tackling had gone); but they could not:
for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. (They didn't want to throw him overboard.)
14 Wherefore they cried to the LORD, and said, "We beseech you, O LORD, we beseech You, let us not perish for this man's soul, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for You, O LORD, have done according as it pleased You."
15 So they took up with reverence (or care: as in Gen. 47:30. Ex. 28:12,29,&c.) Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea (why are we to assume that the result was different in this case from that in every other, unless so stated? It must have been death): and the sea ceased from her raging. (Cp. Ps. 89:9. Luke 8:24. See "sea", Rev. 17:15, and "sea" of people at Christ's crucifixion.)
16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and sacrificed to the LORD (i.e. they vowed that they would offer [when they landed]), and made vows. (Instant converts.)
17 Now the LORD had appointed a great fish (large enough to swallow him. In Matt. 12:40, Greek = ketos = any large marine monster; where Cetaceoe = the mammalian order of fish. No need for any name. Cp. Matt. 12:20; 16:4. Luke 11:30) to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was to come in the bowels of the fish (not therefore kept alive in the fish's mouth, as some imagine. When thus swallowed up, Jonah must have died, and thus became a type of Christ. The "as" and "so" in Matt. 12:40 require Jonah's death. He would have been no type if he had been miraculously kept alive.) three days and three nights. (The Hebrew idiom "three days" can be used for parts of 3 days [and even of years]: but not when the word "nights" is added. See Matt. 12:40, and note the force of "as". There will be Assyrians present when the fish vomits. Nineveh worshiped a fish god [Dagon] so the would listen. Later on, the fish symbol, a cipher, became the Christian symbol for - Jesus Christ Savior of God.)
2:1-7. JONAH'S PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING.
A K 1,2-. Affliction.
L c -2-4-. Place. Sheol.
d -4. Deliverance.
L c 5,6-. Place. The Deep.
d -6. Deliverance. Yehovah's deeds.
K 7. Affliction.
1 And Jonah prayed to the LORD his God out of the fish's bowels,
2 And said, "I cried out by reason of my affliction to the LORD, and He answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol (grave. Cp. Ps. 18:5; 116:3) cried for help in distress I, and You gave heed to my voice. (Written in the past tense letting you know it was written latter.)
3 For You did cast me into the deep, in the heart of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all Your billows and Your waves passed over me. (cp. Ps. 42:7.)
4 Then I said, 'I am cast out of Your sight; (cp. Ps. 31:22)
yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.' (Cp. 1 Kings 8:38. Did he feel the touch of God on him? When you are in trouble and all the way to the bottom, and it is all ended, and everything has gone wrong, and it seems there is no answer anywhere; Always remember God, He has the answer. He has His hand on you. He will never leaver you nor forsake you.)
5 The waters (cp. Ps. 69:1) compassed me about, even to the soul: an abyss closed me round about, the floating sea-weeds were wrapped about my head.
6 I went down to the roots of the mountains; as for the earth, with her bars were about me for ever: (The thought of a drowning man. He was a dead man.)
yet have You did bring up my life from the pit (or grave, the place of corruption), O LORD my God.
7 When my soul swooned (or became unconscious to all else. Cp. Ps. 77:3. Lam. 2:12) within me I remembered the LORD Himself: and my prayer came in to You, into Your holy temple.
8 They that regard (or heed) lying vanities (false teaching will send you to hell) do not head their chastisement. (Critical and true statement.)
9 But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation [belongs to] the LORD." (As in Ps. 3:8. It is on no other. The prayer [vv.2-9].)
10 And the LORD spoke to the fish (Jonah's rapid thoughts and words before he died were subsequently written down by him; for all the verbs are in the past tense, not the present), and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. (God would see that there were Ninevites present for a witness.)
1 And the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time (if God gives you a command, do it. Don't make Him ask you again.), saying,
2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city (cp. 1::1,2; 4:11. It is said to have been about 60 miles in circuit and about 25 miles across. We must remember that such cities included large areas for cultivation and pasturage. Cp. 'much cattle' 4:11), and proclaim (Heb. kara' = to cry aloud: as in vv.4,5,8; 1:2,6,14) to it the preaching that I bid you." (Teach the words of the prophets.)
3 So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. (I.e. in circuit. Its going to take a lot of preaching.)
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said,
3:-4-4:11. CONSEQUENCES. CORRECTION OF JONAH.
D M1 3:-4-10. Pardon of Nineveh.
M2 4:1-11. Correction of Jonah.
3:-4-10. PARDON OF NINEVEH.
M1 i -4. Yahaveh. Proclamation.
k 5. People.
l 6. King. Repentance.
k 7-9. People. "
i 10. Yahaveh. Pardon.
"Yet forty days (the number of probation), and Nineveh shall be overthrown." (Pretty final. No ifs, ands, or buts.)
5 So the men of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast (see introductory notes why Jonah was upset by this), and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. (100% fasting to God instead of party time, they tried to do something about it. They believed God and turned and hung on every word. The heathen had sense enough, that when they observed a man being brought back to life that was definitely sent of God, that had enough sense to listen to Him. On the other hand when you look at the type of Christ Himself, when He would spring from that tomb in resurrection in real life and would walk the earth, you would think all of God's children would bow down and worship Him. Did it happen? of course not. Nor does it happen to this day. See Luke 16.)
6 For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his great ones, saying, "Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his wicked way, and from the violence that is in their hands. (What God can accomplish among the Gentiles is amazing. He opens up to them a way of salvation.)
9 Who can tell [but that] God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?" (Cp. "Who knows...?" 2 Sam. 12:22. Joel 2:14. Jonah, for one, thought Yehovah might do so. Hence his reluctance to give Nineveh the opportunity to repent.)
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their wicked way; and God repented concerning the wicked, that He had said that He would do to them; and He did it not.
(In God's eyes all people are His children. And if one people need correcting, often times He will let that people be corrected. Unfortunately, it will sometimes lead to wars and rumors of wars from generation to generation of nations and people and tribes. But in God's eyes it should not be that way. There is only one God.)