1 Now the word of the Lord came to [a]Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Go to [b]Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim [judgment] against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”(A) 3 But Jonah ran away to Tarshish to escape from the presence of the Lord [and his duty as His prophet]. He went down to [c]Joppa and found a ship going to [d]Tarshish [the most remote of the Phoenician trading cities]. So he paid the fare and went down into the ship to go with them to Tarshish away from the presence of the Lord.(B)
4 But the Lord hurled a great wind toward the sea, and there was a violent tempest on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.(C) 5 Then the sailors were afraid, and each man cried out to his god; and to lighten the ship [and diminish the danger] they threw the ship’s cargo into the sea. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship and had lain down and was sound asleep. 6 So the captain came up to him and said, “How can you stay asleep? Get up! Call on your god! Perhaps your god will give a thought to us so that we will not perish.”
7 And they said to another, “Come, [e]let us cast lots, so we may learn who is to blame for this disaster.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Now tell us! [f]Who is to blame for this disaster? What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country?” 9 So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I [reverently] fear and worship the Lord, the God of heaven, [g]who made the sea and the dry land.”
10 Then the men became extremely frightened and said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was running from the presence of the Lord, [h]because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What should we do to you, so that the sea will become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming more and more violent. 12 Jonah said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard [breaking through the waves] to return to land, but they could not, because the sea became even more violent [surging higher] against them. 14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “Please, O Lord, do not let us perish because of taking this man’s life, and do not make us accountable for innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as You pleased.”
15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16 Then the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, 2 and said,
“I called out of my trouble and distress to the Lord,
And He answered me;
Out of the belly of Sheol I cried for help,
And You heard my voice.(E)
“For You cast me into the deep,
Into the [deep] heart of the seas,
And the currents surrounded and engulfed me;
All Your breakers and billowing waves passed over me.(F)
“Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight.
Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’(G)
“The waters surrounded me, to the point of death.
The great deep engulfed me,
Seaweed was wrapped around my head.(H)
“I descended to the [very] roots of the mountains.
The earth with its bars closed behind me [bolting me in] forever,
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit (death), O Lord my God.
“When my soul was fainting within me,
I remembered the Lord,
And my prayer came to You,
Into Your holy temple.
“Those who regard and follow worthless idols
[k]Turn away from their [living source of] mercy and lovingkindness.
“But [as for me], I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I shall pay that which I have vowed.
Salvation is from the Lord!”
10 So the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.
3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Go to Nineveh the great city and declare to it the message which I am going to tell you.” 3 So Jonah went to Nineveh in accordance with the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a [l]three days’ walk [about sixty miles in circumference]. 4 Then on the first day’s walk, Jonah [m]began to go through the city, and he called out and said, “Forty days more [remain] and [then] Nineveh will be overthrown!”
5 The people of Nineveh believed and trusted in God; and they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth [in penitent mourning], from the greatest even to the least of them. 6 When word reached the king of Nineveh [of Jonah’s message from God], he rose from his throne, took off his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in the dust [in repentance]. 7 He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his nobles: No man, animal, herd, or flock is to taste anything. They are not to eat or drink water. 8 But both man and animal must be covered with sackcloth; and every one is to call on God earnestly and forcefully that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows, God may turn [in compassion] and relent and withdraw His burning anger (judgment) so that we will not perish.”(I)
10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God [had compassion and] relented concerning the disaster which He had declared that He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
Jonah’s Displeasure Rebuked
4 But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still in my country? That is why I ran to Tarshish, because I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and great in lovingkindness, and [when sinners turn to You] You revoke the [sentence of] disaster [against them].(J) 3 Therefore now, O Lord, just take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 Then the Lord said, “Do you have a good reason to be angry?”
5 Then Jonah went out of the city and sat east of it. There he made himself a shelter and sat under its shade so that he could see what would happen in the city. 6 So the Lord God prepared a [n]plant and it grew up over Jonah, to be a shade over his head to spare him from discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about [the protection of] the plant. 7 But God prepared a worm when morning dawned the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered. 8 When the sun came up God prepared a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he fainted and he wished to die, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
9 Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have a good reason to be angry about [the loss of] the plant?” And he said, “I have a [very] good reason to be angry, angry enough to die!” 10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 [innocent] persons, who do not know the difference between their right and left hand [and are not yet accountable for sin], as well as many [blameless] animals?”
- Jonah 1:1 Jonah, the only prophet known to attempt to run away from a divinely appointed mission, lived during the time when Jeroboam II ruled Israel (the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom). He was from the town of Gath-Hepher in Galilee.
- Jonah 1:2 The city of Nineveh was the magnificent capital of the Assyrian Empire. The great palace of Sennacherib was without rival and contained seventy or more rooms. The city was home to more than 120,000 residents (at least twice the size of Babylon) and had no less than fifteen gates in the wall surrounding the city. During this period of time it was probably the largest city in the known world. Built near the juncture of the Tigris River and its tributary the Khoser, it was served by an elaborate water system of eighteen canals. Nineveh had many suburbs, three are mentioned along with Nineveh in Gen 10:11, 12. Nineveh’s extensive ruins are located near the modern city of Mosul, Iraq.
- Jonah 1:3 The natural harbor of the city of Joppa (modern Jaffa, Israel) has been in use since the Bronze Age. It was the port of entry for the cedars of Lebanon for Solomon’s temple (2 Chr 2:16), and again for the second temple of Jerusalem (Ezra 3:7). It is located just south of Tel Aviv.
- Jonah 1:3 Possibly Tartessos in southwest Spain.
- Jonah 1:7 To these sailors, who undoubtedly believed in their own pagan gods, the casting of lots was a way to allow the gods to express themselves since only they could control how a lot fell. In this case, it is possible that God intervened to identify Jonah as the guilty party.
- Jonah 1:8 The questions asked indicate that the sailors were afraid of Jonah even before he confessed his worship of the Lord (v 9). The lot had already confirmed that he was responsible, but instead of acting on that they gave him the option of blaming someone else. The other questions are typical of what one would ask any stranger.
- Jonah 1:9 This was an important addition to Jonah’s description of God, because most people who believed in pagan gods had different deities for different regions of the created world, and often they also worshiped deities of their own localities. Jonah was affirming that there is only one true God.
- Jonah 1:10 Jonah probably had informed them when he first boarded (cf v 3) but they may not have taken him seriously, or perhaps they were just indifferent to his reason for the voyage. Now that they were in mortal danger, they believed him.
- Jonah 1:17 The ancient Hebrew term “fish” did not make a distinction between fish and marine mammals. There are no marine creatures known today which would be capable of swallowing a man, either because of their anatomy or because of their observed behavior. It is possible that the creature that swallowed Jonah has long since been extinct, or even that it was uniquely created by God for this one purpose.
- Jonah 1:17 Jesus cited Jonah’s experience as a sign of His resurrection (Matt 12:40).
- Jonah 2:8 Lit Forsake.
- Jonah 3:3 It is usually assumed that the “three days’ walk” was the distance equal to the circumference of the walled city, but it would also include the open fields, farms, and villages that would have been considered the territory of Nineveh. In fact, a significant portion of what was considered an ancient city’s population typically were farmers who lived outside the city, and only left their farms for the protection of the city when an invading army threatened to attack. For another explanation of the distance, see note v 4.
- Jonah 3:4 Even though it probably would not have taken Jonah long merely to walk from one end of the city to another, to reach the entire population of more than 120,000, Jonah undoubtedly had to work his way through countless streets and alleys. The term “day’s walk” here and in v 3 does not occur elsewhere in Scripture, so perhaps it refers to the time required to visit every part of the city rather than to walk the circumference (see note v 3).
- Jonah 4:6 Probably a castor oil plant.
English Standard Version
Jonah Flees the Presence of the Lord
1 Now the word of the Lord came to (A)Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to (B)Nineveh, that (C)great city, and call out against it, (D)for their evil[a] has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah (E)rose to flee to (F)Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to (G)Joppa and found a ship going to (H)Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to (I)Tarshish, (J)away from the presence of the Lord.
4 But (K)the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened (L)to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and (M)each cried out to his god. And (N)they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, (O)call out to your god! (P)Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”
Jonah Is Thrown into the Sea
7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us (Q)cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come 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 (R)the Lord, the God of heaven, (S)who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that (T)he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, (U)for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard[b] to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and (V)lay not on us innocent blood, (W)for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, (X)and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, (Y)and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord (Z)and made vows.
A Great Fish Swallows Jonah
2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,
(AB)“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
(AC)out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
(AD)and you heard my voice.
3 (AE)For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
(AF)all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
4 (AG)Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
(AH)yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’
5 (AI)The waters closed in over me (AJ)to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
6 at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord my God.
7 When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
(AK)and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
8 (AL)Those who pay regard to vain idols
(AM)forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 (AN)But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
(AO)Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
Jonah Goes to Nineveh
3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to (AP)Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now (AQ)Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,[e] three days' journey in breadth.[f] 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 (AR)And the people of Nineveh believed God. (AS)They called for a fast and (AT)put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
The People of Nineveh Repent
6 The word reached[g] the king of Nineveh, and (AU)he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, (AV)and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, (AW)“By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor (AX)beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and (AY)beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. (AZ)Let everyone turn from his evil way and from (BA)the violence that is in his hands. 9 (BB)Who knows? God may turn and relent (BC)and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
Jonah's Anger and the Lord's Compassion
4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly,[h] and (BF)he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? (BG)That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a (BH)gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and (BI)relenting from disaster. 3 (BJ)Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, (BK)for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, (BL)“Do you do well to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and (BM)made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the Lord God appointed a plant[i] and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.[j] So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching (BN)east wind, (BO)and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he (BP)was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, (BQ)“It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, (BR)“Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity (BS)Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much (BT)cattle?”
- Jonah 1:2 The same Hebrew word can mean evil or disaster, depending on the context; so throughout Jonah
- Jonah 1:13 Hebrew the men dug in [their oars]
- Jonah 1:17 Ch 2:1 in Hebrew
- Jonah 1:17 Or had appointed
- Jonah 3:3 Hebrew a great city to God
- Jonah 3:3 Or a visit was a three days' journey
- Jonah 3:6 Or had reached
- Jonah 4:1 Hebrew it was exceedingly evil to Jonah
- Jonah 4:6 Hebrew qiqayon, probably the castor oil plant; also verses 7, 9, 10
- Jonah 4:6 Or his evil