The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4

Jonah 2

Jon 2:1

Vv 1-9: Jonah's familiarity with the Psalms:

Jonah 2
2. I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD
Psa 120:1
3. All thy billows and thy waves passed over me
Psa 42:7
3. Thou hast cast me into the deep
Psa 88:6
4. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight
Psa 31:22
4. I will look again toward thy holy temple
1Ki 8:48
5. The waves compassed me about, even to the soul
Psa 69:1
6. Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption
Psa 16:10
7. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD
Psa 42:6
8. Lying vanities
Psa 31:6
9. I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving, I will pay what I have vowed
Psa 50:14; 116:17,18

FROM INSIDE THE FISH JONAH PRAYED TO THE LORD HIS GOD: This is the first mention of Jonah praying. Until now he had been fleeing from God and hiding from Him. Now in his great distress he finally sought the Lord. Being willing to die by drowning was one thing (v 12), but death by gradual digestion was something Jonah had not anticipated. We do not know how long Jonah struggled in the sea before the fish swallowed him. Perhaps that terror contributed to his repentance also.

Jon 2:2

Jon 2:2-9: Jonah's psalm of thanksgiving.

GRAVE: Cp Psa 18:5; Act 2:30,31.

Jon 2:3

Jonah saw God's disciplinary hand behind the sailors who had only been His tools in casting the prophet into the sea (cf Psa 88:6-7). He also acknowledged that the sea belonged to God (cf Jon 1:9). Evidently the waves overwhelmed him many times before the fish swallowed him (cf Psa 42:7).

Jon 2:4

I HAVE BEEN BANISHED FROM YOUR SIGHT; YET I WILL LOOK AGAIN TOWARD YOUR HOLY TEMPLE: This condition made Jonah believe that God had turned His back on him (cf Psa 31:22). Nevertheless he determined to seek God in prayer (cf Psa 5:7). Looking toward God's holy temple is a synonym for praying, the temple being the place of prayer in Israel.

Reference to God's holy temple suggests that Jonah -- though a native of Israel in the north -- was a frequent supplicant at the true temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem.

Jon 2:5

Vv 5,6: These vv demonstrate that "Jonah died in stormy seas, drowned in violent waters in which the strongest of swimmers would have had no chance of even a few minutes' survival. And Jonah was given his life back again after being swallowed by the whale" (WJon).

SURROUNDED ME: KJV "even to my soul". Jonah died!

Jon 2:6

YOU BROUGHT MY LIFE UP FROM THE PIT, O LORD MY GOD: Sheol's "pit" (cf Psa 49:15; 56:13; 103:4).

Jon 2:7


Jon 2:8

THOSE WHO CLING TO WORTHLESS IDOLS FORFEIT THE GRACE THAT COULD BE THEIRS: "Jonah proceeded to philosophize a bit. Everyone who makes an idol his or her god abandons the source of his or her loyal love (Heb 'hesed') by doing so. The source of loyal love is Yahweh. This is true of pagans, but the prophet himself had done the same thing. The idols (lit 'empty vanities') in view are things that one puts in God's rightful place in his or her life (cf Psa 31:6; 1Jo 5:21)" (Const).

Jon 2:9

WHAT I HAVE VOWED I WILL MAKE GOOD: "The obvious intention behind these words is a firm resolution to make good his earlier deficiencies: 'Lord, I will go to Nineveh and preach, little as I like the task!'

"Nor must the further implication be overlooked. Jonah, finding himself alive again, although still inside the great fish, now leaped to the splendid logical conclusion that God would give him a new life and new opportunity to witness as he had been bidden formerly.

"The other remarkable thing to notice here is the evident allusion in Jeremiah's prophecy to Jonah's experience: 'Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me... he hath swallowed me up like a dragon (sw also translated: whale, sea monster), he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out' (Jer 51:34).

"The resemblance to Jonah's experience is not to be missed. Why, it may well be asked, should Jeremiah harness it in his lament of the fate of Judah in his time? There can be no doubt that Jeremiah knew that that captivity would last only seventy years and that then Judah would be 'vomited up' with a further undeserved opportunity to serve Jehovah. So it would seem that Jonah's 'death and resurrection' was intended by God to be an acted parable and prophecy of the nation's experience at the hands of the men of Nineveh. Jonah had refused his commission, hoping thereby to save his people from the rising tide of Assyrian power. Indeed, what happened to him, enacted beforehand, was this very thing that he feared. In the later days of Sennacherib God's people were drowned by the Assyrian flood: two hundred thousand of them (Taylor prism) were swallowed up in a mighty captivity (actually greater than Nebuchadnezzar's) and were promptly vomited up by a miraculous deliverance. The details of this are worked out at length in WIsa" (WJon).

Did Jonah return to the Temple at Jerusalem -- where he had first received his commission from Yahweh to preach to Nineveh? If so, did he encounter the sailors again, coming there to fulfill their own vows (Jon 1:16)?

" 'The narrator by his inclusion of the psalm immediately after Jon 1 slyly intends his audience to draw a parallel between Jonah's experience and that of the seamen. Both faced a similar crisis, peril from the sea; both cried to Yahweh, acknowledging his sovereignty. Both were physically saved; both offered worship. Ironically Jonah is at last brought to the point the Gentile seamen have already reached. In his supreme devotion he is still only following in the wake of the heathen crew. He who failed to pray, leaving it to the pagan sailors, eventually catches up with their spirit of supplication and submission" (Const).

Jon 2:10

"When Jonah sunk beneath the wave,
He thought to rise no more;
But God prepared a fish to save,
And bear him to the shore.

"Blest proofs of power and grace divine,
That meet us in His Word!
May every deep-felt care of mine
Be trusted with the Lord.

"Wait for His seasonable aid,
And though it tarry, wait;
The promise may be long delayed,
But cannot come too late" (Cowper).

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