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Bible Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4

Book Overview - Jonah

The Prophet. His name means "done," and he is the son of Amittai. His home was Gath-hepher, a village of Zebulun, and he, therefore, belonged to the ten tribes and not to Judah. He is first mentioned in 2 Kings 14:28, where he prophesied the success of Jeroboam II, in his war with Syria, by which he would restore the territory that other nations had wrested from Israel. He very likely prophesied at an early date, though all attempts to determine the time of his prophecy or the time and place of his death have failed.

The Prophecy. It differs from all the other prophecies in that it is a narrative and more "the history of a prophecy than prophecy itself". All the others are taken up chiefly with prophetic utterances, while this book records the experiences and work of Jonah, but tells us little of his utterances. The story of Jonah has been compared to those of Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17-19, and 2 Kings 4-6).

Although full of the miraculous element, the evident purpose is to teach great moral and spiritual lessons, and it is unfortunate that its supernatural element has made this book the subject of infidel attack. But the facts, though extraordinary, are in no way contradictory or inconsistent. Indeed, Mr. Driver has well said that "no doubt the outlines of the narrative are historical." Christ spoke of Jonah and accredited it by likening his own death for three days to Jonah's three days in the fish's belly.

It is the most "Christian" of all the Old Testament books, its central truth being the universality of the divine plan of redemption. Nowhere else in the Old Testament is such stress laid upon the love of God as embracing in its scope the whole human race.


  1. Jonah's First Call and Flight from Duty, Chs. 1-2.
    1. The call, flight and punishment, 1:1-16.
    2. The repentance and rescue, 1:17-2:10 (end).

  2. Jonah's Second Call and Preaching at Nineveh, Ch. 3.
    1. His second call. 1-2.
    2. His preaching against Nineveh. 2-4.
    3. Nineveh repents, 5-9.
    4. Nineveh is spared, 10.

  3. Jonah's Anger and God's Mercy, Ch. 4.
    1. Jonah's anger, 1-4.
    2. The lessons of the gourd. 5-11.

For Study and Discussion. (1) The different elements of character noticeable in Jonah. (2) The dangers of disobedience, to self and to others. (3) The possibilities of influence for the man commissioned of God. Jonah's influence on the sailors and on Nineveh. (4) God's care for heathen nations (4-11), and its bearing upon the Foreign Mission enterprise. (5) The nature of true repentance and God's forgiveness. (6) The prophet, or preacher-his call, his message and place of service.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, May 21st, 2018
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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