Jonah 1 Commentary


When God commanded Jonah to go and warn the sinful people of Nineveh of coming judgment, Jonah not only refused but fled in the opposite direction. He boarded a ship and headed for the distant Mediterranean port of Tarshish, somewhere in the region of Spain (1:1-3). But God determined to bring Jonah back. His first action was to send a fierce storm that threatened to sink the ship. The seamen, who were not Hebrews, prayed to their gods to save them, and tried to persuade Jonah to pray to his (4-6).

On seeing that their prayers brought no results, the seamen concluded that the storm must have been a supernatural punishment upon someone in the ship. When they drew lots to identify the guilty person, the lot indicated Jonah (7). Jonah confessed his sin, acknowledging that this was God’s judgment upon him. He suggested that the only way the seamen would save their lives would be to throw him overboard (8- 12).

Although they were pagans, the seamen pitied Jonah and respected Jonah’s God (which was in sharp contrast to Jonah’s lack of pity for the pagan Ninevites and lack of respect for God). Only when they were convinced that nothing else would save them did they throw Jonah overboard (13-16). Jonah apparently lost consciousness and was drowning, when God saved his life by sending a great fish to swallow him (17).

Privacy Policy