2 Kings 14:16-27
So Jonah the prophet, the son of Amittai, lived and prophesied before the time of Jeroboam the son of Joash of the kings of Israel. Jeroboam II was king in Israel for about 40 years, from about 793 BC, so Jonah definitely prophesied before 753 BC, and possibly before 793 BC – although that is not certain from the text here in 2 Kings 14. This places Jonah as one of the earliest of all of those prophets of the Bible from Isaiah to Malachi which can be dated.
Jonah's home town was Gathhepher, and although it is poorly spelled in the King James Version, from Joshua 19:13 we see that the town was in the land of Zebulun. Therefore it appears that the Pharisees of the time of Christ were wrong once again, where at John 7:52 they had asserted that “out of Galilee ariseth no prophet”.
Some of the great nations of history settled in lands adjacent to the Holy Land. One of them was Assyria, the capital city of which was Nineveh on the River Tigris. It was this nation which invaded and conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel, starting in 745 BC. It was a heathen nation, the chief object of worship being the idol 'Assor', a fish-god, patron of the city of Nineveh.
About a 150 years before this successful conquest, while there were still kings in northern Israel, there was a man living there named Jonah. He was commissioned by Yahweh to go to Nineveh and proclaim the living God, and denounce the wickedness of it's inhabitants. Such a commission was distasteful to Jonah. He tried to run, but was cast into the sea, swallowed by a whale spewed out.
Jonah was then commissioned a second time. He did as Yahweh bade him.
The Ninevites, led by their King, repented of their evil and were spared from punishment.
When Jonah reproached Yahweh for sparing the people of Nineveh, he had to be taught a lesson in mercy and forgiveness.
The Bible makes it plain that Yahweh works with selected tools in His plan for the salvation of the Adamic society, to bring it back to Himself. He therefore committed the revelation of Himself to one nation whose purpose was to maintain in the world the witness to the living God immanent in the affairs of men. Here, in miniature, in the story of Jonah, is that plan in operation – one Israelite sent to make that witness to a neighboring immoral and idol worshiping nation. In this incident, Yahweh Himself shows that there is capacity in the Adamic Genesis 10 nations for salvation.
Jonah in the Hebrew is Yonah. Yonah means 'dove'.
Tarshish was a mining town of the Phoenicians in Spain.
There was much intercourse through trade across the Mediterranean in the ancient world. Tyre, Sidon, Joppa and Dor were all busy ports at this time. Joppa has a place in the Greeks myths: it was said to be the place where Perseus rescued Andromeda from a sea monster, a tale which even Josephus repeats.
Jonah attempted to flee on a ship “from the presence” of Yahweh. It was a common mistake in the ancient world, to associate a god with a certain place, where apparently the gods of a people became associated with the place in which that people lived.
Verse 8 indicates that the men on the ship did not know much about Jonah. Therefore here it is not necessary that the shipmaster knew much about Jonah's God. Rather, every man crying out to his own god, it is much more likely that the shipmaster wanted to cover all of the theological bases.
Rendering the name Yahweh as “the Lord” makes absolutely no sense in the context of this discourse, since even baal is a Hebrew word which means lord. Here there were many lords and many gods, and each man apparently had a different god in this multicultural setting. Here it is evident, that the men did not even know Jonah from his dress or his language.
Jonah clearly had an ability to communicate both with these men, and later on with the Assyrians in Nineveh.
Here Jonah is to be commended, in caring more for justice than for his own life: for he knew that if the men on the ship suffered any injustice, it would have been due to him. Part of the lesson in Jonah, is that if God wants us to do something, there is no way that we are going to escape it.
Even though Jonah asked the men to throw him overboard, they did not want to be responsible for his death, and they made every effort to get him to land, before they finally relented.
Christ says that it was a whale. The Greek is plain and literally says that it was a whale, and that Jonah was in the whale for three days and three nights.
There are true stories of fishermen that were found alive after being swallowed by a whale.
The city was quite large. It would take 3 days to walk through it.
Some 700 years later Christ speaking to the Edomite Jew Pharisees says:
The king of Assyria, once he heard Jonah's warning, evidently took it to heart, and issued a proclamation demanding that his entire kingdom repent from any and all wickedness.
It is quite certain that most of the people of the Assyrian empire, and especially of Assyria itself, where indeed White Adamic people. For they sprung from Asshur, the son of Shem and brother of Arphaxad who was the ancestor of the sons of Aram and Eber, the original White Syrians and Hebrews. However there was a population of Hittites and Amorites and others of the mixed Kennite and Canaanite peoples living within the bounds of the empire, and certainly also in its capital city.
Beast in the Hebrew is a durogatory term for non-Adamic peoples. Herds are usually cattle, and flocks are sheep and goats.
Jonah was angry that Yahweh did not destroy Nineveh! However there is some history which must be understood, to understand why this was so. It is evident from his mention in 2 Kings chapter 14 that Jonah the prophet conducted his ministry some time in the latter part of the 9th to the early part of the 8th centuries BC. It is during this very time that Assyria, having arisen as a great empire, began to threaten the existence of Israel and Judah as sovereign states.
Jonah, of course, would have loved to have seen Yahweh prevent this inevitable Assyrian conquest, since the intent of Assyria must have been evident in his own time.
There were in Nineveh 120,000 people who knew not the difference between what was good and what was evil.
Assyria is indeed the gourd that sheltered Jonah, and then withered. Likewise, Yahweh caused the Assyrians to deport nearly all of Israel and Judah, settling them in the lands to the north, and for their own good. Not long after Assyria accomplished this, just like the gourd itself, they also withered! It was the Scythian descendants of those same deported Israelites who in league with the Japhethite Medes and the Shemite Chaldaeans of Babylon, themselves a tribe of Aram, had in 612 BC destroyed Nineveh and the other notable cities of the Assyrians.
Why the Assyrians Believed Jonah
The Bible tells us that Jonah, a man, was caught in the belly of a great fish and was delivered, where later he went to Nineveh, where, he preached repentance to the Assyrians and they believed him, and they repented of their sin in sackcloth. This was just a short time before Nineveh was to be destroyed, according to the Book of Jonah itself. What the Bible does not tell us, however, is why the Ninevites should have believed Jonah, or even whether witnesses had seen him ejected from the fish. But why else would the Assyrians believe this man? Maybe here we will see just how much the Bible can come to life once we gain an understanding of ancient history.
The following paragraph is from Diodorus Siculus' Library of History, 2.4.2-4, from the Loeb Classical Library edition, Volume 1 pages 359-361.
"Now there is in Syria a city known as Ascalon, and not far from it a large and deep lake, full of fish. On its shore is a precinct of a famous goddess whom the Syrians call Derceto; and this goddess has the head of a woman but all the rest of her body is that of a fish, the reason being something like this. The story as given by the most learned of the inhabitants of the region is as follows: Aphrodite, being offended with this goddess, inspired in her a violent passion for a certain handsome youth among her votaries; and Derceto gave herself to the Syrian and bore a daughter, but then, filled with shame of her sinful deed, she killed the youth and exposed the child in a rocky desert region, while as for herself, from shame and grief she threw herself into the lake and was changed as to the form of her body into a fish; and it is for this reason that the Syrians to this day abstain from this animal and honour their fish as gods. But about the region where the babe was exposed a great multitude of doves had their nests, and by them the child was nurtured in an astounding and miraculous manner; for some of the doves kept the body of the babe warm on all sides by covering it with their wings, while others, when they observed that the cowherds and the other keepers were absent from the nearby steadings, brought milk therefrom in their beaks and fed the babe by putting it drop by drop between its lips. And when the child was a year old and in need of more solid nourishment, the doves, pecking off bits from the cheeses, supplied it with sufficient nourishment. Now when the keepers returned and saw that the cheeses had been nibbled about the edges, they were astonished at the strange happening; they accordingly kept a look-out, and on discovering the cause found the infant, which was of surpassing beauty. At once, then, bringing it to their steadings they turned it over to the keeper of the royal herds, whose name was Simmas; and Simmas, being childless, gave every care to the rearing of the girl, as his own daughter, and called her Semiramis, a name slightly altered from the word which, in the language of the Syrians, means "doves," birds which since that time all the inhabitants of Syria have continued to honour as goddesses."
Semiramis basically came out of a fish, her mother Derceto, and was then nurtured by doves. Dove in Hebrew is Strong's number 3123, or 3124, the word which is also the name Jonah. So Jonah means dove in Hebrew, and the Assyrians spoke a very close Semitic language. Therefore Jonah was a dove that came out of a fish, and that is why they believed the prophet! So here we see that even in our folly, God speaks to men on their own terms, and sort of makes fun of us in the process. Who thinks that Yahweh our God has no sense of humor?
JONAH – CHURCH DOCTRINE VS. SCRIPTURE
Below are 3 sources of what the modern churches preach today about the book of Jonah.
The purpose is to expose the apostasy and perversion of the scriptures, and to educate our people about the truth of our heritage. That we, the anglo-saxon race who are the descendants of ancient Israel, are the people of Abraham's seed and therefore the heirs of the promises of Yahweh. Not the Jews who distort and pervert the scriptures and teach the 'traditions of men'.
The book of Jonah is Narrative History and a Prophetic Oracle. The prophet Jonah wrote it approximately 785-760 B.C. before Assyria conquered Israel’s Northern Kingdom. Key personalities include Jonah, the captain and the ship’s crew and the people of Nineveh.
The purpose of this book is to show that God is a merciful and gracious God. Although the wicked city of Nineveh deserved to be crushed immediately, God was patient towards them. A reluctant prophet, Jonah originally ran from God before delivering a message of repentance to the nation of Nineveh.
• In chapter 1, God directed Jonah to go to Nineveh however; Jonah disobeyed, boarded a ship and headed for Tarshish. The sailors of the ship became concerned because of the great storm that brewed and Jonah explained that God was bringing judgment upon him. The sailors threw him into the sea where he was swallowed by an enormous fish. “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights” (1:17).
• Chapter 2-3, After God had the fish cough him up, three days later; Jonah obeyed God and went to Nineveh to fulfill his mission. Jonah preached a message of repentance and to his surprise, the sinful city repented. “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them” (3:5).
• In chapter 4, God deals with Jonah and teaches him about His love and compassion.
“...knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity” (4:2). Nineveh’s repentance must have been short-lived; it was destroyed in 612 B.C. So much for “once saved, always saved”.
Summary of the Book of Jonah
The book is named after its principal character, whose name means "dove"; see the simile used of Ephraim in Hos 7:11 to portray the northern kingdom as "easily deceived and senseless." See also Ps 68:13; 74:19 and notes.
Though the book does not identify its author, tradition has ascribed it to the prophet himself, Jonah son of Amittai (1:1), from Gath Hepher (2Ki 14:25) in Zebulun (Jos 19:10,13). In view of its many similarities with the narratives about Elijah and Elisha, however, it may come from the same prophetic circles that originally composed the accounts about those prophets, perhaps in the eighth century b.c.
In the half-century during which the prophet Jonah ministered (800-750 b.c.), a significant event affected the northern kingdom of Israel: King Jeroboam II (793-753) restored her traditional borders, ending almost a century of sporadic seesaw conflict between Israel and Damascus.
Jeroboam, in God's good providence (2Ki 14:26-27), capitalized on Assyria's defeat of Damascus (in the latter half of the ninth century), which temporarily crushed that center of Aramean power. Prior to that time, not only had Israel been considerably reduced in size, but the king of Damascus had even been able to control internal affairs in the northern kingdom (2Ki 13:7). However, after the Assyrian campaign against Damascus in 797, Jehoash king of Israel had been able to recover the territory lost to the king of Damascus (2Ki 13:25). Internal troubles in Assyria subsequently allowed Jeroboam to complete the restoration of Israel's northern borders. Nevertheless, Assyria remained the real threat from the north at this time.
The prophets of the Lord were speaking to Israel regarding these events. About 797 b.c. Elisha spoke to the king of Israel concerning future victories over Damascus (2Ki 13:14-19). A few years later Jonah prophesied the restoration that Jeroboam accomplished (2Ki 14:25). But soon after Israel had triumphed, she began to gloat over her newfound power. Because she was relieved of foreign pressures -- relief that had come in accordance with encouraging words from Elisha and Jonah -- she felt jealously complacent about her favored status with God (Am 6:1). She focused her religion on expectations of the "day of the Lord" (Am 5:18-20), when God's darkness would engulf the other nations, leaving Israel to bask in his light.
It was in such a time that the Lord sent Amos and Hosea to announce to his people Israel that he would "spare them no longer" (Am 7:8; 8:2) but would send them into exile "beyond Damascus" (Am 5:27), i.e., to Assyria (Hos 9:3; 10:6; 11:5). During this time the Lord also sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn it of the imminent danger of divine judgment.
Who wrote the book?
The book of Jonah, written primarily in the third person, does not explicitly name the prophet as the author of his own account, but we have no reason to doubt either the inspiration or the historical veracity of the book. Identified in verse 1 as the son of Amittai, Jonah came from a town called Gath-hepher, near Nazareth in the area that later came to be known as Galilee (2 Kings 14:25). This makes Jonah one of the few prophets who hailed from the northern kingdom of Israel.
Where are we?
During Jonah’s years as a prophet, Israel stood tall among the nations, though in a political rather than a spiritual sense. The reign of Jeroboam II (793–753 BC), who was an evil king before the Lord, saw Israel’s borders expand to their greatest extent since the time of Solomon. Increased prosperity resulted in a materialistic culture that thrived on injustice to the poor and oppressed, one of the key messages of Jonah’s prophetic contemporary, Amos.
However, rather than direct Jonah to prophesy to his own people, God commissioned him to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh. The Assyrians were kinsmen to Jonah through the tribe of Asshur of the Genesis 10 nations. Of the line of Shem, Noah's son. These were white Adamites. At first unwilling to make the journey northeast to deliver God’s message, Jonah turned and aimed for the farthest westward point known to him—Tarshish, located in modern-day Spain. After God eventually turned Jonah in the right direction, the prophet obediently prophesied to the people of Nineveh while Ashurdan III (772–754 BC) sat on the throne of Assyria. Though Assyria had been in a politically weakened state for some time, by the time of Jonah their cruelty to captives and other undesirables was well-known in Israel, creating an obvious need for Jonah’s message of repentance.
Why is Jonah so important?
Jonah was one of only four writing prophets that Jesus mentioned by name during His earthly ministry (Isaiah, Daniel, and Zechariah were the others). But Jonah received more than a mere mention. Jesus actually identified Himself with the prophet’s three-day sojourn in the belly of the great fish, noting it as a foreshadowing of His own death, when Jesus would spend three days “in the heart of the earth,” before His resurrection (Matthew 12:39–41). Jesus’s identification with the prophet at the lowest point of Jonah’s life finds echoes in the book of Hebrews, where it teaches that Jesus “had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17). The book of Jonah stands as an important link in the prophetic chain, giving readers a glimpse of Christ’s death and resurrection hundreds of years before they actually occurred.
What's the big idea?
When the call of God came to him, Jonah could not see beyond his own selfish desire for God to punish the Assyrians. How could God want him to take a message of mercy to such people? The Assyrians were the empire that took over his lands, that's why Jonah despised them. Before Jonah could relay God’s message, he had to be broken. He had to learn something about the mercy of the Lord. Through his flight to Tarshish, his shipwreck, and his time in the great fish, Jonah was convinced in a powerful way that all salvation comes from the Lord (Jonah 2:9). And because of God’s supreme power, only God decides where to pour out His salvation and His mercy (4:11).
How do I apply this?
Do you ever find yourself fighting God—your desires pulling you one way, God’s desires pulling you another? Jonah found himself in that very position, but his own desire won out over God’s for a time. Or so he thought. As we often see in our own lives, God accomplished His purposes through Jonah even though it meant God doling out a heavy dose of humility on a prideful and unwilling heart.
While Jonah eventually departed and proclaimed God’s message, the lesson of his story does not end there. Jonah prophesied to Nineveh but he wasn’t happy about it (Jonah 4:1). Herein we find another touchstone for our lives: aligning our desires with God’s is always a process. Just because we go through the motions of following God’s will does not mean our hearts are aligned with His. God wanted Jonah’s actions and his heart. He wants ours as well.