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Jonah and the Whale (1621) by Pieter Lastman. Public Domain.
Jonah and the Whale (1621) by Pieter Lastman. Public Domain.

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Introduction to Jonah

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Jonah 1

(Online: ASV WEB)

Jonah Tries to Run Away from God

1:1 Now the word of Yahweh came to Jonah1 the son of Amittai,2 saying, 1:2 "Arise, go to Nineveh,3 that great city, and preach against it, for their wickedness has come up before me."

1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish4 from the presence of Yahweh. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid its fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh. 1:4 But Yahweh sent out a great wind5 on the sea, and there was a mighty storm on the sea, so that the ship was likely to break up. 1:5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it. But Jonah had gone down into the innermost parts of the ship, and he was laying down, and was fast asleep. 1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said to him, "What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God[1]! Maybe your God[2] will notice us, so that we won't perish."

1:7 They all said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is on us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 1:8 Then they asked him, "Tell us, please, for whose cause this evil is on us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? Of what people are you?"

1:9 He said to them, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear Yahweh, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land."

1:10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said to him, "What is this that you have done?" For the men knew6 that he was fleeing from the presence of Yahweh, because he had told them. 1:11 Then said they to him, "What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us?" For the sea grew more and more stormy. 1:12 He said to them, "Take me up, and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will be calm for you; for I know that because of me this great storm is on you."

1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to get them back to the land; but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. 1:14 Therefore they cried to Yahweh, and said, "We beg you, Yahweh, we beg you, let us not perish for this man's life, and don't lay on us innocent blood; for you, Yahweh, have done as it pleased you." 1:15 So they took up Jonah, and threw him into the sea;7 and the sea ceased its raging. 1:16 Then the men feared Yahweh exceedingly; and they offered a sacrifice to Yahweh, and made vows.

1:17 Yahweh prepared a great fish8 to swallow up Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.9

  1. Jonah. Jonah represents a phase of spiritual consciousness which sees the enormity of evil and the dire consequences of evil. Jonah fell short because he allowed himself to be intimidated by the seeming mightiness of evil, and failed to appreciate the redeeming power of eternal Good. So Jonah represents a state of mind without divine love, set in cause and effect, under which error sowing cannot be redeemed or forgiven.
  2. Amittai. Tendency to adhere to Truth but on an intellectual level alone.
  3. Nineveh. Seat of natural, animal forces in man's body consciousness. Ninevehs people, though not willfully wicked, awaited spiritual instruction to turn away from the outer and material.
  4. Tarshish. Unyielding, argumentative, pure intellectual and reasoning nature in man.
  5. Wind. Life currents that come from within and surround the whole being; the executive power of mind clearing the way to higher states of consciousness.
  6. For the men knew. It is evident that Jonah was fully aware of his actions, clearly choosing pure reasoning and intellect away from God, which already was bringing trouble.
  7. threw him into the sea. The sea is the waters of the subconscious mind. "There are two realms of thought; the thoughts of the mind working in the subconsciousthat is called in the Scripture letting the waters bring forth abundantlythat is, in the waters of the mind."
  8. great fish. The great fish (whale) has been interpreted both negatively and positively. The negative view was held by Charles Fillmore and Elizabeth Sand Turner, who viewed the great fish as a disastrous state of affairs into which we fall because of negative thinking. (Charles Fillmore sermon August 20, 1916 and Let There Be Light p.236) In contrast, Ed Rabel spoke of the great fish positively. He says that Jonah requests to be thrown into the sea as a solution to a bad situation resulting from his choice, but God rescues him by sending a fish, or a very great truth idea, which totally consumes Jonah. Despite terrible circumstances, God provides Jonah an opportunity to emerge transformed. Ed Rabel, Old Testament Lectures, Jonah.
  9. three days and three nights. Cf. The Sign of Jonah (12:40): "for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matt. 12:41-42

Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Eddy Rodriguez.

World English Bible Footnotes:

[1] v1:6. or, gods

[2] v1:6. or, gods

Jonah 2

(Online: ASV WEB)

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

2:1 Then Jonah prayed1 to Yahweh, his God, out of the fish's belly. 2:2 He said,

"I called because of my affliction to Yahweh.

He answered me.

Out of the belly of Sheol I cried.

You heard my voice.

2:3 For you threw me into the depths,

in the heart of the seas.

The flood was all around me.

All your waves and your billows passed over me.

2:4 I said, 'I have been banished from your sight;

yet I will look again toward your holy temple.'

2:5 The waters surrounded me,

even to the soul.

The deep was around me.

The weeds were wrapped around my head.

2:6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains.

The earth barred me in forever:

yet have you brought up my life from the pit,2 Yahweh my God.

2:7 "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Yahweh.

My prayer came in to you, into your holy temple.

2:8 Those who regard lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

2:9 But I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving.

I will pay that which I have vowed.

Salvation belongs to Yahweh."

2:10 Yahweh spoke to the fish,3 and it vomited out Jonah on the dry land.

  1. Then Jonah prayed. Jonah's prayer acknowledges his circumstances but then moves into affirmative prayer, detailing that his prayers are heard and answered, followed by thanksgiving for his coming rescue.
  2. Yet hast thou brought up my life from the pit. Jonah's rescue could be safety in the whale or the return to dry land. See 1:17.
  3. And Jehovah spake unto the fish. After Jonahs time in this new truth idea and affirmative prayer, God returns Jonah to dry land, forgiven; a clear change in circumstances.

Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Eddy Rodriguez.

Jonah 3

(Online: ASV WEB)

Conversion of Nineveh

3:1 The word of Yahweh came to Jonah the second time, saying, 3:2 "Arise, go to Nineveh,1 that great city, and preach to it the message that I give you."

3:3 So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of Yahweh. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey across. 3:4 Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried out, and said, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"2

3:5 The people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 3:6 The news reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and took off his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 3:7 He made a proclamation and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, "Let neither man nor animal, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water; 3:8 but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and animal,3 and let them cry mightily to God. Yes, let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in his hands. 3:9 Who knows whether God will not turn and relent, and turn away from his fierce anger, so that we might not perish?"

3:10 God saw their works,4 that they turned from their evil way. God relented of the disaster which he said he would do to them, and he didn't do it.

  1. Nineveh, Jonah. Nineveh (exterior growth, growling vigor) represents the first manifest expression of the truth that the spirit, soul, and body of man are free and are not bound by limitations of matter. Jonah (a dove) represents the prophetic state of mind, which, if used without divine love, fixes a person in bondage to belief in a law of cause and effect, wherein error sowing cannot be redeemed or forgiven.
  2. and Nineveh shall be overthrown. Jonahs message is dogmatic, tempered by no conditions and lightened by no promise of escape. He typifies the natural man, who sees only disaster as the inevitable consequence of sin and is unable to accept the teaching that repentance for sin can alter or wipe out the consequences that would otherwise ensue.
  3. but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and animal. Cattle represent physical strength, and pertain to the animal forces of the organism. These are not necessarily evil. Their unfoldment and expression depend on the understanding and directive thoughts of the individual. They may be elevated to the spiritual expression and may be used constructively, for the good only. Such a large sweeping change occurs throughout the city that even the animals will bear the symbol of repentance.
  4. And God saw their works. Though Jonah preached the citys destruction, upon immediately and completely reversing error habits, they had aligned themselves with divine Truth, which uplifts and redeems, and therefore could no longer be destroyed. This phase of Jonah's spiritual consciousness falls short in allowing itself to be intimidated by the seeming mightiness of evil, and failing to appreciate the redeeming power of eternal Good.

Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Eddy Rodriguez.

Jonah 4

(Online: ASV WEB)

Jonah's Anger

4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly,1 and he was angry. 4:2 He prayed to Yahweh, and said, "Please, Yahweh, wasn't this what I said when I was still in my own country?2 Therefore I hurried to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and you relent of doing harm. 4:3 Therefore now, Yahweh, take, I beg you, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live."3

4:4 Yahweh said, "Is it right for you to be angry?"4

4:5 Then Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made himself a booth, and sat under it in the shade, until he might see what would become of the city.5 4:6 Yahweh God prepared a vine, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the vine. 4:7 But God prepared a worm at dawn the next day, and it chewed on the vine, so that it withered. 4:8 It happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah's head, so that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live."6

  1. it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. Jonah was angry because God did not destroy Nineveh; his prophesy of destruction was not fulfilled. Jonah saw the enormity of evil and its consequences and believed the city should be destroyed; cause and effect.
  2. wasn't this what I said when I was still in my own country? Jonah lashes out at God, saying that he knew this might happen and that it is the reason he tried to flee in the first place. Despite listing qualities of God such as mercy and lovingkindness, Jonah is only thinking with his intellect absent of divine love, failing to understand Gods willingness to forgive. This showcases that without redemptive thoughts through prayer the consciousness becomes negative, rebellious, and focused on fault-finding.
  3. for it is better for me to die than to live. So deep rooted is his belief that the city should be destroyed that Jonah wishes for death.
  4. Is it right for you to be angry? God asks plainly will Jonahs anger do him any good. Jonah walks away, leaving Gods question unanswered.
  5. until he might see what would become of the city. Jonah was determined to see the city destroyed.
  6. It is better for me to die than to live. The symbols and the situations in these verses represent the changing attitudes in the mind of one who is uncertain of his spiritual guidance. The prophetic state of mind, on its highest plane, is a dove, a declarer of ultimate peace and good. When it functions on the intellectual or personal plane, it becomes oppressive, destructive, in that it proclaims evil and disaster continuously, and when this belief in evil becomes intensified on the bodily plane it destroys itself.

Jonah Is Reproved

4:9 God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the vine?"1

He said, "I am right to be angry, even to death."

4:10 Yahweh said, "You have been concerned for the vine, for which you have not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night. 4:11 Shouldn't I be concerned for Nineveh,2 that great city, in which are more than one hundred twenty thousand persons who can't discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much livestock?"

  1. Is it right for you to be angry about the vine? God speaks to Jonah once again, questioning his anger, but Jonah insists on his anger
  2. Shouldn't I be concerned for Nineveh God shows Jonah the folly of his childish anger by comparing his love for the tree to that of an entire city that repents. The same wisdom that made a tree is more than capable of judging an entire city. No man should question divine mercy. God will always redeem and transform those that change their ways.

Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Eddy Rodriguez.

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