Jonah runs away
1 The Lord spoke a message to Jonah, Amittai's son. 2 He said, ‘Go now to the great city of Nineveh. Tell the people in the city that I know how wicked they are. Tell them that I will punish them because of their sins.’
1:1When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there.
3 But Jonah did not want to obey the Lord's command. He decided to run away to Tarshish. He went down to Joppa. There he found a ship that was ready to sail to Tarshish. After he had paid for the journey, he got into the ship. He wanted to go on the ship to Tarshish, to get far away from the Lord.
1:3Tarshish was a port that was far away to the west.
1:3Joppa was a port in Israel, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea.
A big storm
4 Then the Lord sent a strong wind on the sea. The storm was so powerful that it almost broke the ship into pieces. 5 The sailors were very frightened. Each of them called out to his own god for help. They threw into the sea all the things that the ship carried. They wanted to make the ship as light as they could. Jonah had gone down into the bottom of the ship. He was lying down and he was asleep.
6 The ship's captain went to Jonah. He said, ‘Why are you sleeping like that? Get up now! Call to your god for help! Maybe he will listen to us and we will not die.’
7 Then the sailors said to each other, ‘We should throw dice to find out who has brought all this trouble to us.’ So they threw dice. The dice showed that Jonah had caused the storm.
8 So they said to Jonah, ‘Tell us, who has caused all this trouble for us? What is your job? Where do you come from? What country do you live in? Who is your family?’
1:8The sailors were very afraid. They wanted to know who Jonah was. They wanted to know which gods he worshipped.
9 Jonah answered them, ‘I am a Hebrew man. I worship the Lord who is the God of heaven. He made the sea and the land.’ 10 This made the sailors even more afraid. Jonah had already told them that he was running away from the Lord. So they said to him, ‘Why did you do a thing like that?’
11 The waves in the sea were becoming bigger because of the storm. So the sailors asked Jonah, ‘What should we do to you so that the sea becomes quiet?’ 12 Jonah replied, ‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become quiet. It is because of me that you are in danger from this great storm.’
13 But the sailors did not do what Jonah said. Instead, they tried to use oars to drive the ship back to the land. But the storm was too strong and they could not do that.
14 So the sailors called aloud to the Lord. They prayed, ‘Lord, please do not punish us with death if we have to kill this man! Do not say that we are guilty because we have killed someone who has done nothing wrong. Lord, we know that you have sent this storm because you wanted to do it.’
15 Then the sailors took hold of Jonah and they threw him into the sea. The storm stopped and the sea became quiet. 16 When they saw what had happened, the sailors became very afraid of the Lord's power. They offered a sacrifice to him and they promised that they would serve him.
17 But the Lord sent a great fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah was inside the fish's stomach for three days and three nights.
1:17The great fish may have been what we call a whale. The Hebrew word could include whales as well as fish. ‘Swallow’ means that the fish took Jonah down into its stomach but it did not bite him.