The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai:
"Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh! Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are."
But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from the LORD. He went down to the seacoast, to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping that by going away to the west he could escape from the LORD.
But as the ship was sailing along, suddenly the LORD flung a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to send them to the bottom.
Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. And all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold.
So the captain went down after him. "How can you sleep at a time like this?" he shouted. "Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will have mercy on us and spare our lives."
Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, Jonah lost the toss.
"What have you done to bring this awful storm down on us?" they demanded. "Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?"
And Jonah answered, "I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land."
Then he told them that he was running away from the LORD.The sailors were terrified when they heard this. "Oh, why did you do it?" they groaned.
And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, "What should we do to you to stop this storm?"
"Throw me into the sea," Jonah said, "and it will become calm again. For I know that this terrible storm is all my fault."
Instead, the sailors tried even harder to row the boat ashore. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn't make it.
Then they cried out to the LORD, Jonah's God. "O LORD," they pleaded, "don't make us die for this man's sin. And don't hold us responsible for his death, because it isn't our fault. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons."
Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!
The sailors were awestruck by the LORD's great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.
Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.