Jonah 1:3 “…Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD…”
Unknown as to the exact location of Tarshish. Found many ideas, some farther away than others. One as far as Spain. I think the idea Jonah had was to go as far away from where God told him to go as possible. And he seemed to have the idea that if he got out of Israel, he would also be getting away from God’s presence.
3 “…went down to Joppa…”
West coast town of Israel on the Mediterranean Sea.
3 “…he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish…”
Large enough for him to be able to go down into it, large enough for a distant journey.
5 “…mariners were afraid…cried out to his god…threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea…”
I assume the sailors had experienced storms before of varying degrees. I don’t see them getting afraid at simple squalls. This one obviously was beyond what they knew they could deal with without divine help.
5 “…Jonah…had lain down, and was fast asleep”
Contrast to Jesus who slept in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was not only righteous, but also the Lord of the storm. Jonah slept from guilty indifference. He thought he was succeeding in his quest to run from God.
10 “…men were exceedingly afraid…knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them”
Used to think the men recognized that God was greater due to Jonah’s description, but it appears the text is written in a loop. It says Jonah told them he feared LORD, the God of heaven, and that he was running away from Him. This is what caused them to be afraid. If Jonah’s God was real, the fact that he was running away from Him would only make Him angry.
12-13 “…throw me into the sea…Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land…”
Jonah tells them what they must do to fix the problem, yet they still try to do it themselves. I get the impression they didn’t have any more respect for God at this point than their own false ones.
16 “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly…”
That did the trick. When they had no options left, they prayed to God, just in case, and threw Jonah overboard. As the sea immediately went calm, they realized God was real. One wonders if their vows and respect for Him lasted long.
17 “…a great fish…”
Fish, not a whale. Prepared by God. May have been something that already existed, or maybe God prepared it especially for Jonah.
17 “…Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights”
Couple of things here. Says in the belly which could be anywhere in the midsection. Some have tried to find a way that Jonah could have survived by saying he was in the lungs of the creature. This would make it a mammal, not a fish. And it assumes Jonah lived during the time he was there. Very real possibility that he died and wasn’t brought back to life until the fish spit him out. I tend to go with that idea as it fits the text. He was swallowed by a great fish, died probably from asphyxiation, and was in the belly, dead until the fish spit him out on the shore. Second thing is the time. Text says three days and three nights. People fight over how much time this is. Hebrew thought put the nights and days together into a unit. You wouldn’t have one without the other. And when counting days, you counted the units, not twenty-four hour periods, starting with the current one. Therefore, saying three days and three nights is the same as saying today, tomorrow, and the next day. This is why Jesus could say He would be in the grave the same length of time as Jonah, and could be buried on Friday and rise on Sunday. Both times it was long enough to make sure the person was dead.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.