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Jonah was a prophet who despised the people who lived in Nineveh. Nineveh was an ancient city of Assyria on the Tigris River - opposite the site of present-day Mosul, Iraq. As capital of the Assyrian Empire, it enjoyed great influence and prosperity, especially under Sennacherib and Ashurbanipal (seventh century B.C.). The city was captured and destroyed by Babylonia and its allies in 612 B.C.

When God told him to go to Nineveh and preach to them, he ran the other way. Jonah ended up in the belly of a fish and repented. God then explained that Nineveh had to repent or would be destroyed. Jonah liked that idea so did go to Nineveh. But, they responded! And, there was a great spiritual revival in Nineveh.

Chapter 1

1 Now the word/'doctrinal communication' {dabar} of Jehovah/God
came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, 2
"Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city,
and cry against it . . .
for their wickedness is come up before Me."

3a But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish
from the presence of Jehovah/God,
and went down to Joppa.

{Note: Tarshish was a city of the Phoenicians in a distant part of the Mediterranean Sea - in the opposite direction from Nineveh. The city was most likely in Spain.}

3b And he found a ship going to Tarshish.

3c So he paid the fare thereof,
and went down into it,
to go with them unto Tarshish
from the presence of Jehovah/God.

4 But Jehovah/God sent out a great wind into the sea,
and there was a mighty tempest in the sea,
so that the ship was like to be broken.

5 Then the mariners were afraid,
and cried every man unto his gods/ 'elohiym,
and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea,
to lighten it of them.

But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship;
and he lay, and was fast asleep.

6 So the shipmaster came to him,
and said unto him,
"What do you mean, O sleeper?

Arise, call upon your 'Elohiym/Godhead,
if so be that 'Elohiym/Godhead
will think upon us, that we perish not.

7 And they said every one to his fellow,
'Come, and let us cast lots,
that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.'

So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

8 Then said they unto him,
'Tell us, we pray you, for whose cause this evil is upon us.

What is your occupation?

And from where do you come?

What is your country?

And of what people are you?"

9 And he said unto them,
"I am an Hebrew.

And I fear/respect Jehovah/God,
the 'Elohiym/Godhead of heaven,
Who has made the sea and the dry land."

10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him,
"Why have you done this?"

For the men knew that he fled from the presence of Jehovah/God,
because he had told them.

11 Then said they unto him,
"What shall we do unto you,
that the sea may be calm unto us?"

For the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

12 And he said unto them,
"Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea
so shall the sea be calm unto you
for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you."

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land;
but they could not
for the sea wrought,
and was tempestuous against them.

14 Wherefore they cried unto Jehovah/God, and said,
"We beseech you, O Jehovah/God, we beseech you,
let us not perish for this man's life,
and lay not upon us innocent blood
for you, O Jehovah/God, have done as it pleased you."

15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea
and the sea ceased from her raging.

16 Then the men feared Jehovah/God exceedingly,
and offered a sacrifice unto Jehovah/God, and made vows.

17 Now Jehovah/God had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.

And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.