Jonah runs away
1 The Lord spoke to Jonah, Amittai's son. 2 He said, ‘Go to the large, important city called Nineveh. Tell the people in the city that they do wrong things. I have seen what the cruel people there are doing. Lots of really bad things happen there.’
1:2Nineveh was a city north east of Israel. Nineveh was in the country that today people call Iraq. The people in Nineveh were very powerful. They were happy about this. They thought that they were very important. At one time, Nineveh was the most powerful place in all the countries in the East. It became a capital city.
1:2The countries near Nineveh joined into one group. They were powerful and they ruled together.
1:2But the people in Nineveh and in this group did very wrong things. The people did cruel things to each other. They had many troubles. It was a dangerous place to live.
1:2In the 8th century BC, this group of people had fought the Israelites who lived in the north of Israel. They had become the rulers of the north part of Israel. They had made the people in north Israel leave their country. So Jonah thought about the people in the group as the enemy.
1:2This book's writer may not have written down all the words that God spoke to Jonah. God may have said that it would be bad news for the people in Nineveh. Jonah knew that God had thoughts to punish them.
3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord. He went towards Tarshish. He went down to Joppa. There he found a ship that was ready to sail to that port. After he had paid for the journey, he got into the ship. He sailed to Tarshish to run away from the Lord.
1:3Jonah went in a different direction from Nineveh.
1:3Joppa was a small town near the Mediterranean Sea. People kept boats and ships there. Tarshish was also a place near the Mediterranean Sea. It was south west of Israel. We do not know quite where it was. Maybe it was near Spain. Or it was somewhere where there were not many people. Sometimes a writer uses the word Tarshish to mean any place far away. A person would have to go there by ship. It was certainly not in the direction of Nineveh!
A big storm
4 Then the Lord sent a strong wind on the sea. There was a powerful storm. The storm almost broke the ship into pieces. 5 All the sailors were afraid. Each of them shouted in a loud voice to his own god. They threw the things that the ship carried into the sea. They made the ship's weight as light as they could. But Jonah had gone below deck. He lay down and he slept. He slept in a way that it would be difficult for anyone to wake him up.
6 The ship's captain went to Jonah. He said, ‘You should not be sleeping! Get up and speak in a loud voice to your god! Maybe he will listen to us and we will not die.’ 7 Then the sailors said to each other, ‘We will throw dice to find out who has caused this trouble.’ They threw dice. And they found out that Jonah had caused the storm.
8 So they asked Jonah, ‘Who has caused all this trouble for us? What is your job? Where do you come from? What country do you live in? Where were you born?’
9 Jonah explained. He said, ‘I am a Hebrew person. I worship the Lord, the God of heaven. He made the sea and the land.’ 10 This made the sailors really afraid. They asked Jonah, ‘What have you done?’ They knew that he was running from the Lord. He had already told them that.
1:10People believed that there were gods for each person, gods for each family and gods for each country. The country's god was the most important god. So they wanted to know who Jonah was. They wanted to know which country he lived in.
1:10Jonah said that he worshipped the Lord. That name for God was the name that the Israelites called God.
11 The water in the sea was moving up and down. It was so high now that water sometimes came into the ship. So the sailors asked Jonah, ‘What should we do to you? The water is coming into the ship. How can we stop that?’ 12 Jonah replied, ‘Lift me up and throw me into the sea. The sea will not move up and down any longer. It will become flat again. I have done something wrong. So you are in a storm.’
13 But the men did not throw Jonah into the sea. They rowed and they tried to return to the land. But they could not do that. Still the water in the sea moved up and down. It was even higher than before.
14 Then the men spoke in a loud voice to the Lord. They said, ‘This man has done nothing wrong. But we will have to kill this man. But Lord, please do not let us die because of this. Do not say that we have done something wrong. Lord, you have sent this storm for your own reasons.’
1:14When the sailors spoke in a loud voice to the Lord, they used the name that Jonah used for God.
15 Then the sailors took Jonah and they threw him over the side of the ship. The water in the sea did not continue to move up and down. It became flat. 16 When they saw this, the men were afraid of the Lord. They respected him and they offered a sacrifice to him. And they promised God that they would do certain things. This was a serious promise.
17 But the Lord had made a very large fish or sea animal. The fish caught Jonah in its mouth. God had chosen the fish to take the whole body of Jonah. Jonah went down immediately from the mouth into the fish's stomach. Jonah was inside the fish's stomach for three days and three nights.