This is one of the books of scripture that has had more than its fair share of critics over the years! To some this book is only an allegory, without any basis in fact. However Jesus Himself vouches for it. Not only did Jesus support Jonah’s historical existence, but also the fact of the prophet being swallowed up for three days and nights Mtt.12:38-41
Author & date
The author and date are both unknown for certain. However, tradition has it that Jonah himself wrote it , which if true would necessitate a dating of the first half of the 8th century B.C.
A. Jonah’s disobedience Ch.1:1-17
- God’s word to Jonah Ch.1:1-2
- Jonah flees Ch.1:3
- The Lord intervenes Ch.1:4
- Jonah ends up inside the fish Ch.1:5-17
B. Jonah prayed Ch.2:1-10
- Out of the depths Ch.2:1-9
- The Lord heard Ch.2:10
C. Jonah’s preaching Ch.3;1-10
- God’s word to Jonah the second time Ch.2:1-2
- Jonah obeys Ch.3:3-4
- The city repents and God hears Ch.3:5-10
D. Jonah’s anger Ch.4:1-11
- Jonah’ anger at God’s mercy for Nineveh Ch.4:1-5
- God’s lesson for Jonah Ch.4:6-11
a. Key verse
The key to understand Jonah’s attitude is found in teh following verse. His was one of a false patriotism.
And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil Jonah 4:2.
A keyword in Jonah is ‘prepared’.
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights Ch.1:1:7.
And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd Ch.4:6.
But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered Ch.4:7.
And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live Ch.4:8.
c. Who was Jonah?
In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher II Kgs 14:23-25.
Jonah was a fully qualified prophet, as seen from the above reference. He was from the Galilee region, thus showing that the Pharisees in Jesus’ days were not correct when they said no prophet had come from Galilee Jn.7:52. Whether they were deliberately lying, ignorant or didn’t recognise Jonah as a prophet is not possible to say.
A prophecy of his is preserved for us in II Kgs. 14:25-27.