The Story of Jonah

Chapter 1

Jonah, sent to Nineveh, flees to Tarshish, 1-3. He is exposed by a tempest, 4-10; thrown into the sea, 11-16; and swallowed by a fish, 17.

1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me." 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD and went down to Joppa, and he found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid its fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was in danger of being broken. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and every man cried to his god and cast the wares that were in the ship into the sea to lighten it of them. But Jonah had gone down into the sides of the ship, and he lay and was fast asleep. 6 So the ship-master came to him and said to him, "What do you mean, O sleeper? Arise, call upon your God. It may be that God will think upon us so that we do not perish."

7 And they each said to his fellow, "Come, and let us cast lots so that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, "Tell us, we pray you, for whose cause this evil is upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?" 9 And he said to them, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear Yahweh, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land."

10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, "Why have you done this?" For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, "What shall we do to you so that the sea may be calm for us?" For the sea wrought and was tempestuous. 12 And he said to them, "Take me and cast me into the sea so that the sea shall be calm for you, for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you." 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to bring it to the land, but they could not, for the sea wrought and was tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore, they cried to the LORD, and said, "We implore you, O LORD, we implore you, do not let us perish for this man's life and do not lay upon us innocent blood. For you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you."

15 So they took Jonah and cast him into the sea. And the sea ceased from her raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Jonah, Chapter 1[➚]


John Gill's Chapter Summary:

This chapter gives an account of the call and mission of Jonah to go to Nineveh, and prophesy there, and the reason of it (verses 1-2); his disobedience to it (verse 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 (verses 4-5); the discovery of Jonah and his disobedience as the cause of the tempest, and how it was made (verses 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 (verses 11-16); the preparation of a fish for him, which swallowed him up, and in which he lived three days and three nights (verse 17).

[v.1] - "Jonah" - Hebrew: יונה (yo-naw')—dove. Reference, 2nd Kings 14:25.

[v.2] - "Nineveh" - Reference, Genesis 10:11.

[v.3a] - In this verse, we see Jonah disobeying God's command. But notice that he didn't just simply refuse God. He took several courses of action to utterly avoid the call of God: he went to Joppa, he searched for a ship and found one, he paid the fare for the ship, he walked to the ship and boarded it, and finally, he waited for the ship to set sail.

[v.3b] - "Tarshish" - From the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge: "As Jonah embarked at Joppa, a sea-port on the Mediterranean, it was probably either Tarsus in Cilicia, or rather Tartessus in Spain, to which he intended to flee."

[v.5] - "into the sides of the ship" - Latin: ad interiora navis—into the interior of the ship.

[v.6a] - "What do you mean, O sleeper?" - This question can also be worded as, "How can you be fast asleep?" The sense might also be, "What is wrong with you that you are fast asleep?" It would seem an unnatural thing to an experienced sailor for someone to be sleeping in a storm that caused even him to be afraid. Sailors are accustomed to rough seas and storms, but this particular storm made these sailors fear for their lives.

[v.6b] - "think upon us" - Or, "be propitious to us." Literally, "appear bright to us," as in, God would make his face bright and appear serene, and thus, be propitious and merciful.

[v.7] - Reference, Proverbs 16:33.

[v.9a] - Though Jonah does not reply to the first request of the sailors, for whose cause this evil was upon them, it is noted in verse 10 that he had given them an explanation, though the words were not documented.

[v.9b] - "fear" - That is, worship, or serve. This was Jonah's occupation.

[v.11] - "so that the sea may be calm for us" - Literally, "so that the sea may cease from upon us." The waves of the sea were crashing down upon them, hence they desired the sea to no longer be upon them.

[v.17a] - "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish" - From John Owen's footnote on Jonah 1:17 in John Calvin's Commentary: "The verb טנה does not necessarily include the idea of creation, but its meaning is, to distribute, to arrange, to order, to provide, to prepare; and yet this preparation may involve the exercise of a creative power, as in the case of the gourd mentioned in the fourth chapter, for it is the same verb. Though it might be an indigenous plant, yet to provide it so quickly in one night was the act of Divine power. So also as to this fish, it might or might not have been one usually found in that part of the sea. To provide it, by bringing it to the spot, was as much a miracle as to provide it by a new act of creation. To allow the one and to deny the other, is wholly unreasonable. The whole was clearly miraculous: and the discovery of any such fish now does not in the least render the transaction less miraculous. Every part of it must be ascribed to a Divine interposition; and let those stumble who are resolved to stumble."

[v.17b] - Quoted in Matthew 12:40.