Jonah 1:1-3

Jonah Flees From the LORD

1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:
2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.

Jonah 1:1-3 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JONAH

This book, in the Hebrew copies, is called "Sepher Jonah", the Book of Jonah; by the Vulgate Latin version "the Prophecy of Jonah": and in the Syriac version "the Prophecy of the Prophet Jonah". His name signifies a dove, derived from a root which signifies to oppress; because it is a creature liable to oppression, and to become the prey of others. Hillerus {a} derives the word from a root which signifies to be "fair" and "beautiful", as this creature is This name is very suitable to a prophet and minister of the Lord, who ought to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves; and who mourn over their own sins, and the sins of others. Jonah did not always in, his conduct answer to his name, particularly when he was so angry at the Lord's sparing the Ninevites, and so impatient for the loss of his gourd. His father's name was Amittai, as in Jon 1:1 and in 2Ki 14:25; from whence it also appears that he was of Gathhepher, a town in the tribe of Zebulun, Jos 19:13; and was a part of Galilee, Isa 9:1; and so R. Jochanan, in Abendana, affirms, that he was of the tribe of Zebulun, and of Gathhepher, which was in that tribe; which confutes that notion of the Pharisees in the times of Christ, that no prophet came out of Galilee, Joh 7:52. The Jews {b} have a tradition that his mother was the widow of Sarepta, whose son Elijah raised from the dead, which was this prophet; and who is said to be the son of Amittai, that is, "truth": because his mother thereby knew and believed that the word of the Lord in the mouth of Elijah was truth, 1Ki 17:23,24; but his being a Hebrew contradicts him, Jon 1:9; for Sarepta was a city of Sidon, and he must have been a Sidonian if born of her, and not a Hebrew: but, be this as it will, it is certain he was a prophet of the Lord; and this book, which bears his name, and very probably was written by him, its divine authority is confirmed by the testimony Christ, of whom Jonah was a type; see Mt 12:39-41; and indeed the principal design of this book is to set forth in himself the type of the death and resurrection of Christ, by his being three days in the whale's belly, and then delivered from it; and to declare the grace and mercy of God to repenting sinners, and to signify the calling of the Gentiles after the death and resurrection of Christ; and is a very profitable book to instruct us about the power and goodness of God; the nature of repentance, and the effects of it; the imperfection and infirmities of the best of men in this life; and the call and mission of the ministers of the word, and the necessity of their conformity and attendance to it. Cyprian the martyr was converted from idolatry by hearing this prophecy read and explained by Caecilius. If this prophet was the son of the widow of Sarepta, or the person Elisha sent to anoint Jehu, according to the tradition of the Jews {c}, he was born in the times of Ahab, and lived in the reigns of Joram and Jehu; and, according to Bishop Lloyd {d}, he prophesied in the latter end, of Jehu's reign; where Mr. Whiston {e} also places him, about 860 B.C.; or in the beginning of the reign of Jehoahaz, when Israel was greatly oppressed by Hazael king of Syria, 2Ki 13:22; at which time he might prophesy of the victories and success of Jeroboam the second, and grandson of Jehoahaz, 2Ki 14:25; and, if so, he is more ancient than Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, Joel, and Micah, whose contemporary he is generally thought to be Pseudo-Epiphanius {f}, as he gives a wrong account of the place of the birth of this prophet, so of the place of his burial; which he makes to be in the land of Saar, and in the cave of Kenan, the father of Caleb and Othniel; but it is more likely that he died and was buried at Geth, where he was born; and where Jerom {g} says his grave was, shown in his time, about two miles from Zippore, in the way to Tiberias; with which account Isidore {h} agrees; and so Benjamin Tudelensis {i} says, his sepulchre was on a hill near Zippore. Monsieur Thevenot {k} says, not far from Nazareth the tomb of Jonah is now to be seen, to which the Turks bear a great respect.

{a} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 429. {b} Hieron. Proem. i Jon. {c} Seder Olam Rabba, c. 18. p. 45, {d} Chronological Tables. {e} Chron. Tables, cent, 7. {f} De Prophet. Vit. c. 16. {g} Ut supra. {h} De Vita & Morte Sanct. c. 45. {i} Itinerar. p. 52. {k} Travels, par 1. B. 2. c. 55. p. 213.

\\INTRODUCTION TO JONAH 1\\

This chapter gives an account of the call and mission of Jonah to go to Nineveh, and prophesy there, and the reason of it, Jon 1:1,2; his disobedience to it, Jon 1:3. God's resentment of it, by sending a storm into the sea, where he was, which terrified the mariners, and put the ship in danger of being lost, Jon 1:4,5; The discovery of Jonah and his disobedience as the cause of the tempest, and how it was made, Jon 1:6-10; The casting of him into the sea at his own motion, and with his own consent, though with great reluctance in the mariners, Jon 1:11-16. The preparation of a fish for him, which swallowed him up, and in which he lived three days and three nights, Jon 1:17.

Jonah 1:1-3 In-Context

1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:
2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.
5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.
6 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
7 Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.

Cross References 7

  • 1. Matthew 12:39-41; Matthew 16:4; Luke 11:29-32
  • 2. 2 Kings 14:25
  • 3. S Genesis 10:11; S Nahum 1:1
  • 4. Psalms 139:7
  • 5. S Genesis 10:4
  • 6. S Joshua 19:46; Acts 9:36,43
  • 7. Exodus 4:13; S Jeremiah 20:9; S Amos 3:8
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