Note: We kick off our Saturday Series on Jonah! But before I go verse by verse in my studies, I typically like beginning any study of a Book of the Bible with what they call Introductory discussion (Purpose of the Book, authorship, date, themes, general observation of the Book as a whole). These are my rough notes.
Introductory question: When I say “Jonah” what do you guys think about?
Establish the need: What is and why cover the Book of Jonah?
Purpose of covering Jonah: See that even though Jonah is a small book in the Bible, it covers important themes for us living out our Christian lives today.
1.) Jonah is a small book
- Part of the Minor prophets in the Old Testament.
- Minor prophets were often called “The Twelve”
- “The Twelve” was so small that it usually fit in one scroll.
- Four short chapters.
- The book is divided into forty eight sentences, 688 words.
- Make up only one percent of the whole Bible.
2.) Purpose of the book of Jonah: God’s mercy upon us, and upon others, so that we can live a life out telling others about God.
- Other smaller themes: God is Sovereign.
- Other smaller themes: God is not only about the Jews—even in the Old Testament
- Other smaller themes: God as Savior.
2 Kings 14:27 is the key to knowing the time of this book.
It is embedded in 2 Kings 14:23-27,
23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke [i]through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. 26 For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, which was very bitter; for there was neither bond nor free, nor was there any helper for Israel. 27 The Lord did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.
Historical note: God’s people were split now into two kingdom, the northern kingdom of Israel and southern king of Judah.
During this time the reign was of Jeroboam II of Israel, who reigned from 793 to 753 B.C. (Kohlenberger, 16).
Jeroboam II was militarily stronger than some of the previous kings according to verse 25.
Assyria was just a rising world power and Nineveh was a great world city (Limburg, 22).
Flow of the Book
- Called and runaway (1:1-3)
- Ship at sea (1:4-16)
- Inside the great fish (1:17-2:10)
- Jonah given assignment once more (3:1-3a)
- Jonah at Nineveh (3:3b-10)
- Jonah’s prayer in Nineveh (4:1-3)
- Jonah’s conversation with God outside the city (4:4-11)
Assorted notes and observation
Exodus 34:6-7 as the foundation for Jonah and Nahum (Kohlenberger, 12).
Jonah 4:2 mentions about God as compassionate, merciful, slow to anger, filled with love…we expect it of God towards the Jews but here it’s for Gentiles!
NT reference to Jonah in Matthew 12:39-41, 16:4, Luke 11:29-32 and OT reference in 2 Kings 14:25.
Only prophetic book that is primarily a story of a prophet (Limburg, 21). The mention of God’s actual word is short (3:4b) and there is a prayer that makes the bulk of Jonah 3, but the rest is about the prophet’s story (Limburg, 21).
Only prophet to have gone to a foreign land and preach to them (Limburg, 22).
Use of questions is profound in Jonah: 14 of them, and often the way of bringing Jonah to the scene by means of questions in Jonah 1:6, 8, 11; 4:4, 9, 11 (Limburg, 25).
First part of the book, all questions (seven of them) are directed towards Jonah.
Second part is Jonah to God (Jonah 2:4)
Then rhetorical question in Jonah 3:9
Jonah’s angry question towards God (Jonah 4:2)
Yahweh’s three questions back in Jonah 4:4, 9, 11.
Lots of dialogues
UP AND DOWN
UP: Jonah commanded to: “Arise” (v.3a) Same verb as below.
UP: Jonah: “Rose up” (v.3a) Same verb as above.
Down: Jonah “went down to Joppa” (v.3b)
Down: Jonah “went down into” the hold of the ship (v.3b)
Down: The LORD hurl a big wind (v.4)
Down: Sailors hurl cargoes into the sea (v.5)
Down: Jonah slept down in the hold of the ship (v.5)
Down: Jonah suggest they hurl him into the sea (v.12)
Down: They do hurl Jonah into the sea (v.15)
- Root “gdl” for “big” is seen 14 times with city (1:2), wind, storm (1:4), fear (1:10), storm (1:12), fear (1:16), fish (1:17), city (3:2), city (3:3), biggest (3:5), king’s “big ones” (3:7), anger (4:1), gladness (4:6), city (4:11).
- Hurl, by the Lord of a big wind (1:4), sailors hurl cargoes into the sea (1:5), Jonah suggest they hurl him into the sea (1:12), they do hurl him (1:15).
- “Go down” to Joppa (1:3), down into the ship (1:3), into the hold (1:5), down to the bottom of mountains (2:6).
Amazing increase of details to dramatize the storm in chapters 1 (1:4, 11, 13).
When wind calmed down in 1:16, details get shorter and shorter in the following three clauses (Limburg, 27).
Ship “thought” about breaking (1:4)
Sea raging (1:15)
Sea and dry land (1:9)
Day and night (1:17)
Jonah is a prophet, but in the beginning is being asked more questions of him than he is preaching (Limburg, 25).
- Yahweh sends a wet wind upon the sea (1:4), then sends a warm wind against Jonah (4:8).
- Uses at first a big fish (1:17) but also a tiny worm to teach a lesion (4:6-7).