1:1 Now the word of the LORD came a unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
1:2 Arise, go to b Nineveh, that c great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
The Argument - When Jonah had long prophesied in Israel and had little profited, God gave him specific charge to go and denounce his judgments against Nineveh, the chief city of the Assyrians, because he had appointed that those who were of the heathen, should convert by the mighty power of his word. And this was so that within three days preaching, Israel might see how horribly they had provoked Gods wrath, who for the space of so many years, had not converted to the Lord, for so many prophets and such diligent preaching. He prophesied under Jonah, and Jeroboam; ( 2 Kings 14:25 ).
(a) After he had preached a long time in Israel: and so Ezekiel, after he had prophesied in Judah for a time, had visions in Babylon; ( Ezekiel 1:1 ).
(b) For seeing the great obstipation of the Israelites, he sent his Prophet to the Gentiles, that they might provoke them to repentance, or at least make them inexcusable: for Nineveh was the chief city of the Assyrians. 1:3 But Jonah rose up to d flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to e Joppa; and he 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 f presence of the LORD.
(c) For as authors write, it contained in circuit about forty-eight miles, and had 1500 towers, and at this time there were 120,000 children in it; ( Jonah 4:11 ).
1:5 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 was gone down g into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
(d) By which he declares his weakness, that would not promptly follow the Lords calling, but gave place to his own reason, which persuaded him that he would not profit these people at all, seeing he had done such little good among his own people; ( Jonah 4:2 ).
(e) Which was the haven, and port to take shipping there, also called Joppa.
(f) From that vocation to which God had called him, and in which he would have assisted him.
(g) As one that would have cast off this care and concern by seeking rest and quietness. 1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy h God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.
(h) As they had called on their idols, which declares that idolaters have no rest nor certainty, but in their troubles seek what they do not even know. 1:7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast i lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil [is] upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.
(i) Which declares that the matter was very extreme and in doubt, which was Gods way of getting them to test for the cause: and this may not be done except in matters of great importance. 1:14 Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, k We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this mans life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.
(k) This declares that the very wicked in their time of need flee to God for help, and also that they are touched with a certain fear of shedding mans blood, whereas they know no manifest sign of wickedness. 1:16 Then the men l feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.
(l) They were touched with a certain repentance of their past life, and began to worship the true God by whom they saw themselves as wonderfully delivered. But this was done for fear, and not from a pure heart and affection, neither according to Gods word. 1:17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the m belly of the fish three days and three nights.
(m) Thus the Lord would chastise his Prophet with a most terrible spectacle of death, and by this also strengthened and encouraged him of his favour and support in this duty which was commanded him.