The principal character in this small prophecy is Jonah, son of Amittai. We read of him in 2 Kings 14:25, in which the additional information is given that he was from Gath-hepher, in the territory of Zebulon, known today as Khirbet Ez-Zurra. We learn also that Jonah was a servant of the Lord.
The following will serve as a working analysis of the book.
I. Chapter 1:1–3. Jonah receives a commission from the Lord to go to the great Assyrian city of Nineveh and preach against it. Its wickedness, that is, its idolatry and the practical manifestation of that idolatry in sins moral and social, was well known to God.
Jonah refuses to obey God and thinks that he can escape responsibility by taking a ship bound for Tarshish, a city which was probably located on the North African Coast near modern Tunis.
Chapter 1:4–6. In seeking to flee from the presence of the Lord, Jonah does not hold a view of God as a localized deity. Rather, he acts foolishly and unwisely as does every sinner who seeks to flee responsibility. No man can flee from God. The Lord hurls a great wind into the Mediterranean sea, and causes so great a storm that the ship is at the point of breaking. The sailors do not know the origin of the storm, and in their fear, each cries to his god. Although the ship is Phoenician, the sailors are of different backgrounds. Seeking practical means to remedy the situation, they cast overboard the ship’s rigging and cargo. By prayer and by action they seek for an alleviation of their condition. Jonah is lying in deep sleep in the lower deck. The captain cannot bear such indifference, rebukes Jonah, and commands him to call upon his god in the hope that Jonah’s God might keep them from perishing.
Chapter 1:7–16. The sailors believe that ...1
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