Introduction to Jonah (1993)

Study notes 1993
Tags: Jonah
Related Resources: Introduction to Jonah (2017)

Book Title



Jonah, son of Amittai. He is identified as a prophet from Gath-hepher, a town of Zebulun (due west of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee). Gath-hepher was only three miles from Nazareth, and some 30-35 miles north of Samaria, capital of the kingdom of Israel. (See Jon 1.1; 2 K 14.25.)

Date of Authorship

Jonah prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II, king of Israel (Northern Kingdom), which places his message around 780 BC. According to 2 K 14.26-27, Jonah prophesied to Israel of God’s sovereign power in preserving Israel amidst the nations. Apparently, Jonah foretold that a major portion of land would be restored to Israel, which happened during the reign of Jeroboam II (2 K 14.25, 28).


Jonah has been much attacked by critics because of the supposed fabulous nature of the story of the great fish. It is of utmost importance to realize that Christ regarded the prophecy of Jonah—in its historical and spiritual aspects—to be fully authoritative. He even cites Jonah’s experience in the belly of the great fish as being pictorial of His own death and resurrection (Mt 12.38-41; Lk 11.29-30, 32).

Historical Background

The city of Nineveh was founded by Nimrod (Gen 10.8-12). It became one of the royal residences of Assyria after the twelfth century BC. It was eventually made the capital of the Assyrian Empire. The actual walled city of Nineveh was only three miles by less than a mile and and a half. Greater Nineveh was made up of four cities: Nineveh, Resen, Calah, and Rehoboth-Ir (Gen 10.11-12). Nineveh and Calah were 18 miles apart, lending significance to the Biblical description of Nineveh as a “great city” (Jon 1.2; 3.2; 4.11). Also, this greater Nineveh concept enables us to understand why Nineveh was a city of three days’ journey (3.3-4).

Spiritual Lessons

  1. Jehovah is a holy God: He cannot tolerate evil (1.2).
  2. Jehovah is omnipresent: His presence cannot be eluded (1.3ff; cf. Ps 139.9-10).
  3. Jehovah is omnipotent: He controls the forces of nature as well as the animals (1.4, 17; 2.10; 4.6-9).
  4. Jehovah uses men to proclaim His message of righteousness and repentance. He calls His man and empowers His message (1.1-2; 3.1-2, 4ff).
  5. Jehovah is sovereign: He works in mysterious ways to bring glory to Himself. In this story, God used the rebellion of the prophet to demonstrate His power and His righteousness to those aboard the ship (Gentiles), and as a result they were confronted with the reality of the one and only true God (1.4-16). Note: The seamen were so amazed by God’s display of power that they sacrificed to Him and made vows (1.16)!
  6. Jehovah is attentive: He hears the humble cries of His servants (2.1-10).
  7. Jehovah is creative: He uses all sorts of instruments to accomplish His purposes. In the story, He used a storm (1.4), a fish (1.17; 2.10), a prophet (3.4ff), an evil king (3.6), a gourd (4.6), a worm (4.7), and an east wind (4.8).
  8. Jehovah is merciful: He is characterized as “gracious, merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness, repenting of evil” (4.2). This is truly the great message of Jonah. God used Jonah’s displeasure with the wilting of an insignificant gourd to show His love and concern for innocent, undiscerning children and livestock (4.9-11).

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Study notes (2 pages)  45k v. 1 Sep 1, 2011, 5:43 AM Greg Smith