Old Testament

Jonah son of Amittai prophesied during a period of Assyrian weakness which occurred sometime between the first unsuccessful Assyrian threat against Israel in 853 BC and the Assyrian invasion which destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the 730s and 720s BC.
Additional information about Jonah is provided in 2 Kings 14:25. His hometown was Gath Hepher, which was located northeast of Nazareth in the tribal allotment of Zebulun in northern Israel (Joshua 19:13). Jonah predicted that the Lord would restore the boundaries of the kingdom of Israel to the greatest size that the boundaries had previously enjoyed, from Lebo Hamath in northern Syria to the Dead Sea in the south. This prophecy was fulfilled during the reign of Jeroboam II, who reigned from 793 to 753 BC.
The book contrasts the Lord's love for all sinners with Jonah's indifference and disdain toward those whom he regarded as his potential enemies.
Jonah Disobeys God and Flees
11So the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2“Get up, go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach against it, for its people's evil way has come up before me.”
3But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish.[] He paid the fare and boarded the ship to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
4But the Lord hurled a great wind onto the sea, and there was such a great storm on the sea that the ship was about to break apart. 5The sailors were afraid, and each one cried out to his gods. They threw the ship's cargo into the sea to lighten the ship's load.
Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship. He was lying down and sleeping soundly. 6The captain approached him and said, “How can you be sleeping so soundly? Get up and call on your god! Maybe your god will treat us with favor so that we will not perish.”
7Then the sailors said to each other, “Come on, let's cast lots so that we can find out whose fault it is that this disaster has come to us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
8So they said to him, “Please tell us whose fault it is that this disaster has come to us! What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? What people are you from?”
9He answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
10Then the men were terrified and said to him, “What have you done?” The men already knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so.
11Then, because the storm on the sea kept getting worse, they said to him, “What should we do to you, to quiet the sea that is raging against us?”
12He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will calm down for you, for I know that this violent storm striking against you has come about because of me.”
13Instead, the men rowed hard to return the ship to dry land, but they could not, because the storm on the sea kept getting worse for them. 14So they cried out to the Lord and said, “Please, Lord, please do not let us perish because we sacrifice this man's life, and do not charge innocent blood against us, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
17Then the Lord provided a large fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.[]


  • 1:3 Tarshish was in the far western Mediterranean region, perhaps in Spain or Portugal. It was the most distant place known to Israel.
  • 1:17 English verse 1:17 is verse 2:1 in Hebrew. All subsequent verse numbers in chapter 2 are one number lower in English than they are in Hebrew.