Bible Commentaries

Jonah 1

Verses 1-17

In narrating his own experience on his mission to Nineveh, Jonah intended to teach his people the lesson of the inclusiveness of the divine government, and thus to rebuke their exclusive attitude toward surrounding peoples. The Book naturally falls into two parts. In this first division we have the prophet's account of Jehovah's command, his disobedience, and the divine interposition. Evidently he had no doubt that the command was from Jehovah. The charge to deliver a message to a city outside the covenant, and one, moreover, which was the center of a power which had been oppressive and cruel, must have been startling to Jonah. His attempt to escape was an act of willful disobedience. Outside the path of duty he recognized that he was chargeable to himself, and with a touch of fine, if mistaken, independence, he paid his fare to Tarshish.

His going out from the presence of the Lord did not, however, ensure his escape from the Lord's control. Jehovah sent out a wind which endangered the ship in which Jonah was a passenger. The incidents of the storm are full of interest. Terrified by the storm, and at their wits' end, the crew made every effort to save Jonah's life. However, God, who had sent out the wind, presided over the casting of the lots, and at last Jonah was cast into the deep. There he was received by the fish, prepared.