Archive for the ‘Jonah’ Category


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

  1. Part of the Minor prophets in the Old Testament.
  2. Minor prophets were often called “The Twelve”
  3. “The Twelve” was so small that it usually fit in one scroll.
  4. Four short chapters.
  5. The book is divided into forty eight sentences, 688 words.
  6. 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.

  1. Other smaller themes: God is Sovereign.
  2. Other smaller themes: God is not only about the Jews—even in the Old Testament
  3. 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

Seven scenes

  1. Called and runaway (1:1-3)
  2. Ship at sea (1:4-16)
  3. Inside the great fish (1:17-2:10)
  4. Jonah given assignment once more (3:1-3a)
  5. Jonah at Nineveh (3:3b-10)
  6. Jonah’s prayer in Nineveh (4:1-3)
  7. 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: 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)

Greatest/least (3:5)

Humans/animals (3:7-8)

Persons/animals (4:11).



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).


Next: Exposition of Jonah Part 1

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Jonah and the Whale Carlo Antonio Tavella

The staple for a Christian’s reading “diet” ought to be the Word of God.

It’s because of this conviction that God’s Word is important that I am compelled to do a special Bible expositional outline series through the Book of Jonah every week on Saturday for the next two months or so.  Jonah is one of my favorite books.

Stay Tune!


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Jonah and Nahum by John R. Kohlenberger III

Purchase: Amazon

I’m reviewing this commentary in mind for the exegete rather than the person who’s looking for a devotional read through Jonah. For a volume in the Everyman’s Bible Commentary series, this was surprisingly good for both a devotional read and also insights for the expositor. There’s enough insight of the Hebrew in terms of lexical materials and structural observations to compete with other technical commentaries as well. The author writes from a conservative Biblical stance, and there’s nothing really doctrinally that I would have to say is concerning. The second half of the portion of this book I read as a personal devotional through the book of Nahum. This volume inclusion of the book of Nahum balances out Jonah, in which we see the response of people’s repentance in Nineveh, while Nahum came sometime later and God did destroyed Nineveh for their sins. I learned many new things through this book. It’s unfortunate that it’s published 1984–I think it should still be in use more popularly today.

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Purchase: Amazon

I’m reviewing this commentary in mind for the exegete rather than the person who’s looking for a devotional read through Jonah. To that end, it was surprisingly good and I thought this volume was the best critical commentary on the book of Jonah. Plenty of insights that are given above the usual obvious observation, especially at the greater syntactical and structural level of the book. It is part of the Old Testament Library commentary series, and my previous exposure to some of the volumes in this set has made me biased against this particular volume. However, this is a good example of why exegetes must weigh each individual commentary on it’s own merit rather than the series as a whole–for even good series have it’s weak volumes, and vice versa. The author James Limburg clearly loves the story of Jonah, who have even made it a hobby of his to visit different locations of Europe with artistic references to Jonah. This passion spills over into his commentary. Some notes of caution about this volume for the conservative expositor: Limburg believes that Jonah was written long after Nineveh was destroyed (Limburg, 78). That might be a rather trivial point compared to the fact that Limburgh does not believe the events of Jonah ever happened (Limburgh, 24). Yet despite this problem, he manages to draw out very good exegetical insight of the text itself. Ironically, Limburg does a good job defending the prayer of Jonah 2 as being part of the original composition of the text rather than the liberal game of redaction criticism, etc. I’ve also appreciated his appendix that provided a survey of the impact and references to it historically in the Apocrypha, first century literature (Josephus), Rabbinic Judiasm, Islam and the Protestant reformation. The most intriguing survey in the appendix for me personally was seeing just how whacky Rabbinic hermeneutics and embellishment can get.

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I’ve seen translator handbook on the Bible for different books of the Bible, and always thought about it employing it so this was my first time using it for exegetical studies. I was expecting it to be a handbook summarizing exegetical problems and decisions, but this was not what it really was. The work was more of a recommendation of possible risks and suggestions in translating into English or various languages, especially with difficulties in the language the text is being translated into. The book was more dynamic equivalence driven than formal equivalence in terms of translation philosophy. Not much syntactical/grammatical/lexical insight, and the few offered can be gleamed from most commentaries. This particular edition did have a good summary of the structure of the book of Jonah in the beginning of the book. I think the best thing an expositor might get out of it is that it allows the readers to be aware of how various Bible version went about with their translation decisions, or phrasing things.

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