Bible Query from
Jonah

Q: In Jon 1, what do we know about Jonah?
A: Jonah is also mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25. Jonah was from Gath-Hepher, which was actually very close to Nazareth in Galilee. There were two years where the Assyrians did not fight (about 758-757 B.C.), and presumably Jonah came then. 2 Kings 14:25 places Jonah about this time, around the time of the reign of the Assyrian kings Ashur-dan III (about 772-754 B.C.) and Ashur-nirari V (about 754-746 B.C.).
 

Q: In Jon, what lessons can we learn here?
A: Jonah teaches at least three lessons concurrently. Very simply, they are:
1. God wants complete obedience, not partial obedience. No one, not even a true prophet, is exempt from continuing to press on in obedience.
2. You can run from God, but you cannot hide. God's will is never thwarted.
3. God loves the lost, even wicked people. We should too.
 

Q: Why is Jon in the Bible?
A: Jonah is a fascinating book with at least three main themes that weave together.
God's compassion on all: God did not only love the Jews. He loved the Gentiles and even the wicked.
Obedience: Jonah was only disobedient in one area, but God wants complete obedience. If you think disobeying God is worthwhile, make sure you can stomach the consequences.
Our love: We should not only seek the knowledge of God, and the holiness of God, but also the heart of God. Our lives should be characterized first by our love for God, and then by our love for others, even people as wicked as the Ninevites.
 

Q: In Jon what are similarities with Psalms?
A: Apparently Jonah knew Psalms well. Here are the similarities.

Jonah Psalms  
Jonah 2:2a Psalm 3:4; 120:1  
Jonah 2:2b Psalm 18:4-5; 30:3  
Jonah 2:3a Psalm 88:6-7  
Jonah 2:3b Psalm 42:7  
Jonah 2:4a Psalm 31:22  
Jonah 2:4b Psalm 5:7  
Jonah 2:5a Psalm 69:1-2  
Jonah 2:6b Psalm 49:15; 56:13; 103:4  
Jonah 2:7a Psalm 107:5; 142:3  
Jonah 2:8a Psalm 31:6a "cling to worthless idols"
Jonah 2:9a Psalm 50:14; 69:30; 107:22  
Jonah 2:9c Psalm 3:8; 37:39  

See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol. 7 p.364 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 1, is this book fictional because of its elements of fantasy, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.642 claims?
A: No. Asimov did not list any elements of fancy, so it is hard to answer a vague objection. Here are the possible points Asimov might have seen, along with answers.
Swallowed by a great fish: While this could have been a miraculously-created fish, there is no reason to require that it be so. There have been a number of other cases of men being swallowed by a great fish (called a Jewfish), being vomited out, and living to tell about it. See the discussion on Jonah 1:17 for more info on this.
Going to Tarshish: Tarshish (Tartessus) in Spain was founded by the Phoenicians around the ninth or tenth century B.C., so there is no problem trying to travel to Tarshish, since it already existed for a century or two before Jonah.
Great Storm: The eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea often has violent and sudden storms. Another storm you can read about is documented in Acts 27:13-38.
Nineveh's existence: According to archaeologists, Nineveh existed as early as 5000 B.C. Nineveh was mentioned in cuneiform tablets of King Gudea (about 2200 B.C.) and Hammurapi (c.1700 B.C.). Therefore, it is expected that Nineveh was prominent enough in early times to be mentioned in Genesis 10:11.
Nineveh' s size: Nineveh was a great city from before the time of Jonah, so there is no problem here. As evidence, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1208 mentions that Calah was a city less than half the size of Nineveh, and it had 69,574 people in 879 B.C.
The King in Nineveh: Nineveh was not the capital of Assyria until King Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.), which was soon after the time of Jonah. Nevertheless, Ashurbanipal II (884/883-859 B.C) and Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C.) were among the kings who lived in Nineveh part of the time. Harper's Bible Dictionary p.493 says that Nineveh was one of the royal residences from 1100 B.C. onward. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1208-1210 for more info.
King of Nineveh vs. Assyria: The Empire was called Assyria, not Nineveh, but was not uncommon to call the king of a nation as the king of where he stayed. For example, Ahab is called the king of Samaria (not Israel) in 1 Kings 21:2, Ahaziah is also called king of Samaria (not Israel) in 2 Kings 1:2), and Ben-Hadad is called the king of Damascus (not Aram/Syria) in in 1 Kings 15:18 and 2 Chronicles 16:2. See the New International Bible Commentary p.925 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1463 for more info.
The rapidly-growing gourd plant: It is true that this was probably a miraculous plant. The faster growing plant naturally is a bamboo, which can grow up to 91 cm (36 inches) per day.
The east wind: There is nothing fantastical about an east wind coming down off the mountains.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.301-302 and When Critics Ask p.307 for more on taking Jonah as literal history. As Walter Kaiser summarizes in Hard Sayings of the Bible p.332-333, "Thus, the objections to the book come down to this: it has too many miracles!"
 

Q: In Jon 1:2 exactly why did God say he wanted Jonah to preach against it? What do you think are two reasons behind this reason?
A: The Bible states is was because its wickedness has come up before God. There are three ways to take this observation.
1) Some might hear Jonah's preaching and repent and continue to follow God after that.
2) Others Ninevites would clearly hear that God was displeased with their wickedness, and have more basis for judgment because they were warned.
3) Other non-Assyrians would hear and see that the destruction of the virtually invincible Assyrians was God's doing.
In general, when God warns people or a person that is a good thing if the person repents. But that is a calamity for that person if they heard the warning and disobey it. See Jeremiah 42, especially 42:19-22 for more on this concept.
 

Q: In Jon 1:3, to which Tarshish was Jonah fleeing?
A: There are three cities named Tarshish, which gives three possibilities.
Unlikely: Tarshish (Tarsus) in Asia Minor: This was a medium-sized port city about ten miles (16 kilometers) from the Mediterranean Sea. Centuries later, Paul the apostle came from here. It would not make sense for Jonah to travel south to take a boat to this inland city, when he could have just walked there.
Most likely: Tarshish (Tartessus) in Spain: This is the more likely location. Tarshish, mentioned in Herodotus 4:152, was probably west of Gibraltar, in modern-day Spain or Portugal. It was the farthest west civilized city at that time, short of the Olmec civilization in Mexico. Tarshish was founded by the Phoenicians in the ninth or tenth century B.C. The New International Bible Dictionary p.987 says this was the Tarshish to which Jonah was fleeing. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1662 says that the gold, silver, and copper mined there make this one of the richest mining districts in the Mediterranean today. This would be as far from Nineveh as Jonah could reasonably get.
Unlikely: Tarshish in Sardinia: According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1662, the Phoenician word Tarshish comes from the Akkadian word for "to melt" or "to be smelted". In the ninth century the Phoenicians captured a smelting town in Sardinia which they also called Tarshish. We know this because of the inscription on the Nora stone. However, besides the name, there is no other reason to link this city to Jonah. It was not as famous as the Tarshish in Spain, though this was probably the Tarshish that provided silver to King Solomon in later times.
See Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.54-55 for more info.
 

Q: In Jn 1:1-3, it never said that Jonah told God "no" in words. How can a person be defiant in actions without using words?
A: A person does not have to say anything; they can simply do actions against what God wants, and continue doing them. Whether defiance is loud or quiet, it is still defiance.
 

Q: In Jon 1:3, Jonah found an "open door" in the form of a ship he could sail aboard. But who gave the open door? When we encounter an open door, how do we know if it was God or Satan that provided it?
A: As Satan gave Jesus an "open door" for an easier way to be ruler of the world, Satan can facilitate for us open doors to try to escape obeying God. When you see an open door, don't necessarily go through it. First check scripture and then ask God if that is what He wants you to do.
 

Q: In Jon 1:3, why did Jonah try to run away from God?
A: Scripture does not say, but we can speculate. Jonah believed in God, wanted to worship and serve God, and undoubtedly wanted to obey God in general. However, Jonah did not want to obey God in this specific area; Jonah gives us a glimpse as to his reason in Jonah 4:2.
Jonah was not disbelieving in God's power, knowledge, or love. Rather, Jonah did not love the cruel Assyrians and God did love them. Jonah did not like that characteristic of God, that God still loved the cruel and wicked. Curiously, one cannot excuse Jonah by saying he did not have all the facts, or that he did not know enough about God.
Rather, Jonah chose to hate the cruelty of the Assyrians, and knowingly turned his back on the fact that God loved them. Today, if there is something about God that you do not like, it is OK to be honest about your shortcoming. However, remember that it is you who need to change, and all that live in Heaven will be changed, and there is no point in running away from your ultimate sanctification.
 

Q: In Jon 1:3,10 why did Jonah go down to Joppa (by modern Jafneh and Tel Aviv today)? Why would he not care if he kept the reason a secret?
A: While there were many Phoenician ports in modern day Lebanon and the coast of Syria, there was almost no place that was suitable for a port youth of Joppa, until the Romans built a man-made part at Caesarea centuries later. Jonah would not need to travel to Joppa to a land journey, but it was the closest port for a sea voyage.
 

Q: In Jon 1:3-10, Jonah probably figured that if he went far enough in the opposite direction, it would be more efficient for God to use someone else, instead of him. Do we ever think that way?
A: It is all too easy to think the God has the same limitations and ways of working that we do. But Isaiah 55:8-11 says that God's thoughts and ways are not like ours. His word will accomplish what He intended for it.
 

Q: In Jon 1:3-10, very few people in Old Testament times had the Spirit of God where they could prophesy, but since Jonah did, how could even he be disobedient and turn his back on God?
A: Just ask Balaam. If God gives you a special gift, whatever it might be, your requirement to obey God's commands is not any less. Your need for vigilance, to examine yourself that you are still walking in the Lord, has not been removed for you any more than it was removed for Paul and his initial readers in 2 Corinthians 13:5-6.
 

Q: In Jon 1:3-10, today do we sometimes consider God's will for us a smorgasbord of many dishes, and we pick and chose which ones appeal to us?
A: A smorgasbord is a banquet with more choices or food than one person can possibly eat. So a person takes a little bit of what they prefer, and nothing of what they don't like. Do you want more desert, more meat, more of your favorite fruit, the choice is all up to you. But effectively serving God is more like being in the army, where you eat everything that is given to you.
Sometimes people want to serve God "in their own special way". Why not rather serve God in His way? Now God's way of serving God is not identical for everyone, because we have different spiritual gifts. But common to serving in God's way for everyone, is obedience to what He desires, not what we desire. Sometimes we desire to do godly ministries, but our priorities in our life are not God's priorities. Pray that God would show you His priorities for your life, and commit to following God's priorities over your own.
 

Q: In Jon 1:4-7, since God does not want us to follow superstition of luck, why did casting lots work for the sailors? In general, is casting lots a good thing to do?
A: Casting lots is not necessarily good for finding out information. In general, when non-believers do something in the Bible, even when God blesses their [possibly] misguided efforts, that is not an endorsement for believers to do so.
In the Bible, believers sometimes cast lots, too. For example, the apostles cast lots, and this was recorded, without either endorsement or criticism, in Acts 1:24-26.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.331-332 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 1:5, what was the main point of the voyage? Why would they throw the cargo into the sea?
A: Large ships could transport a few passengers, but they main point of the bustling Mediterranean shipping was cargo. When they were throwing the goods to be sold at their destination overboard, they were throwing away the main point of sailing in the first place. Financially this would be disastrous for the owner. Throwing away the cargo would lighten the ship, which would make it ride up higher on the water, which would give them more of a safety margin if the boat started filling up with water. It would also slightly reducing the chance it would be hit by submerged rocks.
 

Q: In Jon 1:6, how was this prophet asleep here?
A: Jonah apparently was not too concerned about being out of God's will. Jonah was sound asleep in at least three ways.
Physically: Either Jonah was physically exhausted to sleep through this heavy storm, or God gave him a deep sleep to rest, because this would be the most comfortable sleep he would have for a while.
Spiritually: Jonah was a believer whose will was in open rebellion against God. Ephesians 5:14 also talks about the importance of believers not being asleep spiritually.
Intelligence: If God directly commands you to do something, any child who follows God knows that God is capable of stopping you if you disobey. Perhaps Jonah thought that God would just ignore him if he "got out of range" of Nineveh.
 

Q: In Jon 1:6 was the captain hostile to the True God. since the captain apparently did not believe in the One True God, why would the captain want Jonah to pray to his God? Do some people today have this attitude?
A: Many people's beliefs are "eclectic". The captain thought it could not hurt, and might help. Some people don't outright reject God, but rather merely want to add the one True God alongside their other deities. Many early Christians were killed, not for worshipping God, but rather for refusing to worship anyone besides God.
 

Q: In Jon 1:7, how is this similar to the wise men in Mt 2:1-3?
A: God can us any means for non-believers to find out information. For example, when the Magi followed the star, that does not mean Christians should be looking to the stars to find the Messiah.
God never said He was restricted to using only good means to draw people to Himself. Sometimes God uses truly wicked means, such as the Babylonian army (Habakkuk 1:6,13). God can use disease, evil people, and even unintentional sin (as with the Magi) to draw people to Himself.
Most strange of all, is that God has used deliberate, willful sin by believers to rescue those same believers. You can read all about this in the narrative of Joseph and his brothers, in Genesis 37 and 50, and especially Genesis 50:20. As a matter of fact, God can work all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and for His purposes (Ephesians 1:11)
In conclusion, as God using kidnapping of Joseph for his purposes does not justify kidnapping, God using astrology for his purposes does not justify astrology.
 

Q: In Jon 1:8, what does "what do you do" mean?
A: It might mean "what do you do (as an occupation)", or it could mean "what are you doing (on this ship)". See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.37 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 1:8-10, why would they be afraid when Jonah said he worshipped the One who made the sea and the land? They did not worship One True God anyway.
A: The did not believe the One True God, but apparently they did not rule Him out either. Pagans tended to be accepting of new deities, and if there was the claim that He made the sea, then that God would be one to be reckoned with in these circumstances. Some people are like this today. They don't accept the One True God, but they don't rule Him out either. They like to sit on the fence.
 

Q: In Jon 1:11-15 were the men right to throw Jonah overboard, to what seemed to be certain death?
A: Normally no. But they were desperate, and when Jonah told them to, they did what they felt they had to do.
 

Q: In Jon 1:16, did the sailors become believers in the true God?
A: Scripture does not explicitly say. Either:
a) the did convert and worship only the true God,
b) they merely now greatly respected the true God, and sacrificed to him as well as continuing to sacrifice to their idols.
 

Q: In Jon 1:16, how could the sailors be led to reverence the true God through Jonah's disobedience?
A: God sometimes works wonders in strange ways, doesn't He? God not only can use good things to work out good things, but Romans 8:28 says that God works out all things together for the good for those who believe. Ephesians 1:11 even goes so far as to say that God works out all things according to the counsel of His will. Even the things God did not desire, God is still powerful enough to work out as a part of His plan.
 

Q: In Jon 1:16-17, what happens, when a godly man, or godly nation, no longer wants to do what God wants?
A: It can vary. God can choose to take action, to show the person how important their work is in the Lord. Or God can take unpleasant action, and rebuke a person so that they will come back to Him. Or God can be through with them, and not use them anymore, like a useless tool. Of God can do all of the above, in a sequence, depending on our response
 

Q: In Jon 1:17-2:1, why do you think God does not always do what is not efficient?
A: God does not need to hurry; He has all the time in the world. God does not need to gather power; He is already all-powerful. God does not need to find out more information; He already knows everything. God is interested in the process, and not only the end result.
 

Q: In Jon 1:17-2:1, was the great fish the answer to Jonah's prayer?
A: No, because Jonah was already inside the fish when he started praying, according to Jonah 2:1.
 

Q: In Jon 1:17 and Mt 12:40, how could this be a whale, since only sperm whales have throats large enough to swallow a man whole, and sperm whales do not live in the Mediterranean Sea, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.647 says?
A: There are four possibilities.
1. Jewfish are various species of large sea bass. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica vol.12 1972 p.1040, many of them reach 500 to 700 pounds and 7 to 12 feet long.
2. Whale sharks (Rhineodon typicus) have swallowed men who were later found alive in their stomachs.
3. Sperm whales can swallow large objects whole. One even swallowed a 15-foot shark. This was documented by Frank T. Bullen, in Cruise of the Cachalot Round the World after Sperm Whales. (1898).
In 1771 Marshall Jenkins was swallowed by a sperm whale. James Bartley also was swallowed by a sperm whale in 1891. The October 1928 issue of the Princeton Theological Review shows that some details of Bartley's story are inaccurate, but that the evidence of inaccuracy on some details does not disprove it. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.95 for more on these two occurrences.
While sperm whales are not normally found in the Mediterranean, they can swim great distances, and God could have one swim to the Mediterranean. Asimov's dismissal of a sperm whale in the Mediterranean presupposes there is no God who causes events to occur.
4. It was a unique fish, especially prepared by God for this purpose. However, perhaps this was unnecessary, as there are three other types of fish that not only are theoretically capable of swallowing a man alive, but they have actually done so.
There have been other accounts of men swallowed alive by some great fish and living to tell about it. One was a sailor off the New England coast in the 1800's. A more recent one is in The Dallas Morning News in the 1970's in the Gulf of Mexico.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1462-1463 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 2, how might Jonah's experience be similar to Paul handing an immoral brother over to Satan in 1 Cor 5:4-5?
A: Paul handed an immoral brother over to Satan as an instrument of discipline. Satan can be thought of as the unwilling servant of God Most High here. This would be unpleasant for the immoral brother, but might shake him up so that he would want to repent.
Being under God's discipline can be like going fishing, when you are the bait. Scripture is silent on whether or not Jonah ever wanted to go fishing again after that.
 

Q: In Jon 2, how would you share with a wicked or immoral non-believer (or believer), the importance of obeying God?
A: The great Bible teacher Chuck Swindoll remarked that of the people in immorality that he counseled, many of them were focused exclusively on the pleasure of the present. You might want them to see the present consequences of those around them, both those who know and those will likely find out later. Ask them to think about the future, and how they will answer for that before God. Ask them to think about their rewards in heaven, or the loss of rewards. Is an eternity of a reward in heaven worth less than the pleasures of sin for a short season, followed by the guilt? But if they do not care about these things at all, perhaps they don't have to be concerned about rewards in heaven. they should instead be concerned about escaping the eternal flames of the Lake of Fire in the second death. If they have no concern about these eternal things, then perhaps they never had eternal salvation in the first place.
 

Q: In Jon 2, what is one key advantage when you are laid low and flat on your back? Was there a time in your life you were flat on your back, and God used it?
A: One key advantage is that you have no where to look but up. Sometimes God has to get people flat on their back before they will look up to Him.
 

Q: In Jon 2:1 (KJV), was Jonah really in Hell?
A: The Hebrew word here is sheol, which more generally means "grave", not Hell. See the next question for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 2:1, did Jonah really die?
A: No he did not die. Some Christians, such as J. Vernon McGee, say that this indicates Jonah really did die in that fish, and God raised Him from the dead. R.A. Torrey in Difficulties in the Bible p.115-116 also thinks it likely that Jonah was allowed to die.
But Jonah did not die, because if he had died, then where did he go? If Jonah went to paradise where the righteous went, he would be happy there, and he would not want to leave. If for some reason he went to prison where the unrighteous went, then cold, wet water would be the last of his worries. The phrase "going down to sheol" as a poetic metaphor for literally being buried at sea. Jonah recognized that this fish was going to be Jonah's literal coffin unless God rescued him. The NIV Study Bible p.1367 gives this view.
Regardless, all Christians agree that if God had wanted to, He could have preserved Jonah alive in that fish, or God could have let Jonah die and then be brought back to life in that fish.
 

Q: In Jon 2:3 (KJV), what is a billow?
A: This poetic English word means a wave of water, usually on the ocean.
 

Q: In Jon 2:4,6,7-8, what enduring quality did Jonah have? How can we cultivate that quality?
A: For all of Jonah's bad attitude, lack of love, and disobedience, Jonah still had great faith that God would rescue Him and He would see God's temple again, at least in Heaven. Even though Jonah's life was ebbing away, he had hope to see God's template and sacrifice to God again.
 

Q: In Jon 2:6, how did the earth bar Jonah in?
A: Imagine Jonah's predicament, knowing he was deep beneath the land and the sea. He had what you might think of as a deep feeling of claustrophobia. Jonah's poetic language in 2:5-6 mentions that he was lower than the roots of the highest mountains in the sea.
Today, if a person feels the lowest of low, remember there is one virtue to being flat on your back: it is easier to look up. A prophet who knew better was flagrantly disobeying God and running away. Jonah was disciplined strictly, but the time passed, and Jonah was restored and again used by God.
 

Q: In Jon 2:8 (KJV), what are "lying vanities"?
A: The NIV and NET translate this "worthless idols" and the NRSV translates this "vain idols". According to Green's Literal translation, the Hebrew words here are "idolatry" and "vanities".
Even without knowing Hebrew, it is clear in modern translations that it was idolatry Jonah was thinking about, not lesser falsities.
 

Q: In Jon 2:8, should it say forsake "their true loyalty" (RSV,NRSV) or "grace/mercy"?
A: The Hebrew word checed (pronounced KHEH-sed) has a range of meaning of kindness, merciful, pity. But it can also mean reproof, reproach, wicked thing. In this context the RSV and NRSV do not seem to follow the Hebrew so closely as the other translations below.
"forsake the grace that could be theirs" (NIV)
"forsake their faithfulness" (NASB, Updated NASB)
"forsake their own mercy" (KJV, NKJV)
"have forsaken their own mercy" (Septuagint)
"forsake their kindness" (Green)
 

Q: In Jon 2:8, how do people who cling to idols forfeit what could be theirs? What about predestination?
A: Predestined is a biblical word (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:11) but it does NOT mean God has the blame for someone not going to Heaven. People in Hell cannot truthfully say "God forced me", it's "God's fault", or "God gave me no opportunity. They can only say it was their own fault, and even if they did not have all of the knowledge they could have had, they rejected the truth they were given.
 

Q: In Jon 2:8, what are different ways in which idols are worthless?
A: The are worthless physically, spiritually, and contagiously.
Physically idols are worthless; even if a piece of wood is only burned, it serves more of a good purpose than an idol does.
Spiritually they point away from the true God.
Idols are also worthless in a contagious way. People who worship and believe in them become worthless spiritually too.
 

Q: In Jon 2:2-9, how could Jonah pray so eloquently after this traumatic experience?
A: As his skin was being bleached and digested, Jonah had a lot of time, without external distractions, to consider his ways and talk with God. It is easier to compose a prayer, when your life around you is decomposing. Jonah could have "polished his prayer" as the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.946 suggests. However, Jonah's prayer could be both a polished response and a "gut-level" plea. -the fish's gut that is.
 

Q: In Jon 2:9-10, do you think God was patiently waiting for something here? Do you think God is waiting for something in your life?
A: God showed no indication that he would do anything "if" Jonah did something. When Jonah showed sorrow for being in the belly of the great fish, God listened. When Jonah "renewed is vow" and told God he would honor what he should do, the next thing scripture tells us is that Jonah was out of the fish on dry ground.
 

Q: In Jon 3-4, why did God have Jonah prophecy the Ninevites would be destroyed, and then they were spared?
A: God's character does not change, and God's ultimate will does not change. However, God's revealed will towards a person or people does change when the people change and repent, as Jeremiah 18:1-11 shows.
There are numerous other examples of this in the Bible, including Genesis 20:3-7, 2 Kings 20:1-6, and even a prediction that God's revealed will toward them will change in Deuteronomy 28:68.
A historical note is that this question was apparently first answered around 207 A.D. by Tertullian in Against Marcion book 2 ch.23 p.315.
See the discussion on Genesis 20:3-6; Exodus 33:5-6; Deuteronomy 20:17; Jeremiah 15:6; Jonah 3:10; and Jonah 4:1-2 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 3-4, why did the Ninevites repent?
A: In more modern accounts of people swallowed by a jewfish that have survived, their skin looks very bleached. Undoubtedly Jonah must have had a strange appearance when he came to Nineveh.
In addition, God might have used a few other factors prior to Jonah's coming around 758-757 B.C.
Plague in Nineveh 765 B.C. The mightiest army in the world was powerless before a plague.
Eclipse in 6/15/763 B.C. The ancient people were afraid of eclipses, and the Assyrians as well as others saw a solar eclipse in 763 B.C. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.636 also accepts the fact of an eclipse occurring then.
Another plague in Assyria 759 B.C. This was just one to two years prior to Jonah.
 

Q: In Jon 3:1-2, Jonah disobeyed and failed God, apparently in what God thought was a big way. How could someone who disobeyed God like that every serve Him again, especially telling others they need to repent and turn to God?
A: The power of the message was not with Jonah's obedience, or with anything about Jonah. The power of the message was with God. Jonah could no longer do anything about his past disobedience that he had repented of. Now was the time to pick himself up and keep on going, only this time in God's direction, not his own.
Jonah knew about repenting, and he could tell others how to do it too, though perhaps with less hardship that Jonah had.
 

Q: In Jon 3:1, should Jonah have waited for God to commission him again?
A: In general yes, because we should be in constant communication with God and always ask Him to show us if we are going not the best way. We might not be going the wrong way, but we also might not be going in the way God wants us to go.
However, in Jonah's case this is a moot point, because God apparently spoke right away. It is possible, after turning away from God, that a servant of God such as Jonah would need a confirmation from God before continuing in the ministry God had him in before his time of turning away. God provided that.
 

Q: In Jon 3:2, did Jonah seem particularly concerned that he did not yet have the message he was supposed to proclaim? Should we be concerned if God calls us to a ministry and things are not all mapped out for us?
A: Not at all. God apparently wanted Jonah to talk to the Ninevites more than Jonah wanted to talk to the Ninevites. The God who carried Jonah this far, who cared so much for the Ninevites that he would sent a big fish rather than let Jonah go AWOL, was not going to fail to give Jonah the words to say, when the time came that they were needed.
 

Q: In Jon 3:3 and Jon 4:11, how was Nineveh such a great city, with 200,000 people?
A: According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1208, the city of Calah was less than half as large as Nineveh, and in 879 B.C. it had 69,574 inhabitants. (This is based on an inscription by Asurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C., where he invited 69,574 people of Nimrod to a feast according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1472.)
As Geisler and Howe say in When Critics Ask p.308, three days does not refer to a straight walk through open territory, but the time to go in and around through the city. A city 16 miles (26 kilometers) in diameter would be about 50 miles (80 kilometers) in circumference, and could be about 600,000 people.
 

Q: In Jon 3:3-4, Do you think Jonah felt safe going to such a blood-soaked city?
A: Jonah probably felt safer among the wicked Ninevites, who enjoyed torture, being in God's will, than Jonah would feel alone with God when God was angry towards him. So on going to Nineveh Jonah probably felt safer, and possibly drier too. Likewise we, and our heavenly rewards, are safer going into a dangerous place, following God's will, than we are playing it safe by trying to run away from God. Hopefully we can digest this lesson faster than Jonah did.
 

Q: In Jon 3:5, what is interesting about God's name here?
A: Up through Jonah 3:4, the only name for God used was the LORD (Yahweh), except for the sailors who used elohim when speaking of gods in general. From Jonah 3:5 it uses Elohim to refer to the True God. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary p.382 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 3:5,6,8, what is sackcloth?
A: Sackcloth was coarse cloth that was uncomfortable to wear. People wore that as a sign of deep mourning and repentance.
 

Q: In Jon 3:6, why is the king called the King of Nineveh?
A: He was the King of Assyria, not just Nineveh. We can speculate on two reasons.
Jonah's perspective: Jonah came to Nineveh, a residence of the Assyrian king. Regardless of the lands that Assyria conquered, which were contesting its rule, he was king of Nineveh.
Jonah's readers: Since he was king of Assyria, he was king of the cities of Assyria. It was simpler, and still correct, just to call him the king of the place to where Jonah went.
When Critics Ask p.309 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1463 both mention that it was not uncommon to mention a king by his capital city. In 1 Kings 21:1, Ahab the King of Israel, is called the king of Samaria. Likewise, Ahaziah, king of Israel, is also called the king of Samaria in 2 Kings 1:3, and Ben-Hadad King of Aram is referred to as the king of Damascus in 2 Chronicles 24:23.
 

Q: In Jon 3:6, what do you see as the very first step of repentance here?
A: As a sign of his humility before God, the king rose up off his throne. The first step in repentance is to rise up off our throne, acknowledge that we are not, and don't want to be the lord of our own lives, and instead will do what God wants, and stop doing what God does not want.
 

Q: In Jon 3:7, why would the decree be by the king and his nobles, and why would the nobles want fasting?
A: Assyria was a military state, and his nobles were military commanders. If the king lost the support of his military commanders, he would not be alive long. The nobles would want to avoid the plague, because if word got out that the army ranks were decimated by many dying and sick soldiers, that might provide the spark of a reason for the many people who wanted revenge on Assyria to march against her. According to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.361 the people of Urartu, along with the Mannai and the Madai had combined to push their border to less than a hundred miles from Nineveh, between 782 and 745 B.C.
 

Q: In Jon 3:7, how do you get other people to repent?
A: For the Assyrian king it was easy, he could issue a proclamation, followed by punishment for any who disobeyed. That does not work for us today. But in addition to that, the king rose up off his throne, and set an example by fasting and putting on sackcloth himself. Today we can tell people they need to repent, set an example, and provide encouragement to others to repent.
 

Q: In Jon 3:7, how could we metaphorically put on sackcloth today?
A: We could dress in mourning, with a black armband, or give up something that is ordinarily fine to do, as a sign of our mourning for a person or a people. Both God and other people hear our communication, and we communicate not just with words.
 

Q: In Jon 3:7, why would the Assyrians make the animals have to show repentance too?
A: While the animals obviously would not know what was going on, this was a desperate attempt the Assyrians thought of to show their mourning and appease God. Historically they had already had two plagues, and the superstitious Assyrians had seen a solar eclipse. This is not the only time people in that region mourned with animals. The historian Herodotus in Histories book 9 ch.24 p.292-293 tells of a later time when the Persians shaved their heads and cut the manes of their horses and mules after Masistius, a cavalry commander, died in battle against the Greeks. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.383 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 3:8 did God listen to the prayer/call of these non-believers? Were they praying for salvation?
A: While we do not know what all they prayed for, we know that they prayed that God would turn the impending disaster away from them.
 

Q: In Jon 3:9, how certain were they that their repentance would have any effect on their future outcome at all?
A: The Ninevites had no certainty, only hope. They knew that God was angry at them because of their violent wickedness, and they knew that God wanted them to stop and repent. Today we have far more certainty. God will save us when we repent and come to Him. However, sometimes we might still suffer consequences in this life for our sins.
 

Q: In Jon 3:9 is it good to tell non-believers about the fierce anger of God?
A: Yes, in this case it helped them repent.
 

Q: In Jon 3:10, why did God have Jonah prophecy the Ninevites would be destroyed, and then they were spared?
A: God's character does not change, and God's ultimate will does not change. However, God's revealed will towards a person or people does change when the people change and repent, as Jeremiah 18:1-11 shows.
There are numerous other examples of this in the Bible, including Genesis 20:3-7, 2 Kings 20:1-6, and even a prediction that God's revealed will toward them will change in Deuteronomy 28:68.
 

Q: In Jon 3:10, why did the Ninevites repent?
A: In more modern accounts of people swallowed by a jewfish that have survived, their skin looks very bleached. Undoubtedly Jonah must have had a strange appearance when he came to Nineveh. God might also have used a few other factors prior to Jonah's coming around 758-757 B.C.
Plague in Nineveh 765 B.C. The mightiest army in the world was powerless before a plague.
Eclipse in 6/15/763 B.C. The ancient people were afraid of eclipses, and the Assyrians as well as others saw a solar eclipse in 763 B.C. The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.636 also accepts the fact of an eclipse occurring then.
Another plague in Assyria 759 B.C. This was just one to two years prior to Jonah.
 

Q: In Jon 3:10, how did God repent of the evil he said he would do?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. The word "evil" in Hebrew has two meanings: moral evil, and physical harm and pain.
2. While God does not change His mind (Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:24), God's revealed will towards a people changes when their attitude changes. See the discussion on Jonah 3-4 for more examples of this.
Muslims should not be surprised that the term "evil" can mean harm, and not just moral evil. The term is used in this way in their own writings, in the Bukhari Hadith volume 3 book 29 ch.7 no.56 p.35.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.333-334 for more info on two meanings of the word evil.
 

Q: In Jon 3:10b, why would God have compassion on such an evil people, and why would Jonah not?
A: While God made them, and God sustained them, as He does all people, those are not the root reasons. The root reason is that God loved them, cared for them, and God has compassion on all He has made, according to Psalm 145:13b,17.
 

Q: In Jon 3:10b, when our heart is not aligned with God's, how can our heart be changed?
A: The Holy Spirit can work to change our hearts; however, as believers we have a responsibility to be pliant and responsive to God too.
 

Q: In Jon 4:1-2, exactly why was Jonah so angry that the Ninevites were spared? Was it primarily because his words did not come to pass, or because he wanted to see the Ninevites destroyed?
A: It might have been both. The idea that his prophetic words would come to pass was more important to him than the lives of the Ninevites. On the other hand, knowing how cruel and warlike the Ninevites were, and perhaps knowing it was only a matter of time before they attacked Israel, he did not want them spared for that reason.
 

Q: In Jon 4:1-2, regardless of the reason Jonah was angry, did Jonah value is words coming to pass more of the lives of the Ninevites more. Are there any examples in the Bible or today where we care more about our words than about people?
A: Jephthah was wrong in caring more about keeping his rash vow than his own daughter. Herod cared more about fulfilling his promise to Salome than the life of John the Baptist.
 

Q: In Jon 4:1-2, do true prophets sometimes make false prophecies?
A: No. In Jonah 3:4-10 Jonah prophesied that Nineveh would be destroyed within forty days because of their wickedness. When they repented en masse, God did not bring on them the disaster He threatened. When a people's will changes, God revealed will towards that people change.
This prophesied destruction was due to their not repenting of their wickedness. It is implicitly conditioned on their non-repentance. When they decided to repent, God did not see the need to destroy Assyria at this time. Likewise, when God prophesies destruction, we can learn the judgment can be delayed or removed if the people repent. This principle, of allowing repentance in the face of judgment, is spelled out in Jeremiah 18:7-8.
See When Cultists Ask p.88 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 4:1-2, why was Jonah wrong to hate the Assyrians, since David also said he hated those who hated God in Psalm 139:21-22?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. The Assyrians did not have much hatred for the true God; they barely knew who he was. In Jonah 4:11 God speaks of the Ninevites as not knowing their right hand from their left, or in other words, scarcely even knowing right from wrong.
2. There is an important concept to learn about interpreting the Bible. The Psalms are collections of prayers and songs preserved by God as examples for us. While everything God says in Psalms (as well as the rest of the Bible) is true, not everything people (not to mention Satan) says in the Bible is true. Rather, the Bible is truthfully recording what they said. For example, if Ahab said "1 + 1 = 3", and the Bible recorded that "Ahab said 1 + 1 = 3", the Bible would be truthfully and inerrantly recording a false statement Ahab made.
3. Psalm 139 speaks of hatred of God's enemies, and the New Testament says we are to love people. (Remember, Saul of Tarsus was once an enemy of God.) Thus David prayed a prayer that was not God's perfect will. As shown in the New Testament, we are to love even God's enemies.
4. There is a lesson we can learn from this prayer in Psalms. Do not be afraid to pray whatever you feel to God. God will change our hearts. Even in the last verse of Psalm 139, David asked God to "see is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (NIV)
 

Q: In Jon 4:1-2, since Jonah had a bad attitude, why wasn't he correct in going somewhere else, rather than minister with a bad attitude?
A: In Jonah's case, the problem was that he needed a change in attitude. God certainly wanted Jonah to change his attitude, but God commanded him to go anyway, regardless of his attitude. Sometimes people's hard attitudes can soften when they choose to obey God regardless of their feelings.
In Philippians 1:15-18 Paul speaks of people who preached the [true] Gospel out of envy and rivalry, and not sincerely. Even though those people were against Paul, Paul still praised God for their preaching, because they were still preaching the true Gospel, even though from bad motives.
 

Q: In Jon 4:3,8-9, 1 Sam 16:30, and 1 Ki 19:4, should believers ever pray for God to take away their life?
A: The Bible does not directly answer this question, but it does give some good and bad examples.
1. No obedient believer in the Bible ever committed suicide. Saul was not obedient in 1 Samuel 16:30. Ahithophel was not an obedient believer after betraying David in 2 Samuel 17:1-23.
2. Samson asked God to take away his life in Judges 16:30, however, while Samson performed a "suicide mission", Samson did not do anything else to take his own life.
3. Elijah was so exhausted that he prayed God to take away his life in 1 Kings 19:4. Jonah was so bitter against God he asked God to kill him. However, neither were approved by God for their request.
 

Q: In Jon 4:1,4,9b why would Jonah both have and keep his anger at what God did?
A: Jonah did not just momentarily get angry; Jonah felt he somehow had the right to hold on to his anger. As Ephesians 4:26 shows, we never have the right to hold on to our anger.
 

Q: In Jn 1:1,4,9, when (if ever) do we have a right to be angry at what God did? What does it mean when we are angry at what God did?
A: Jonah had no more right than we have a right to be angry at how another person chooses to spend their money. Ultimately our anger is that God is not acting like a team player, playing on our team as we think He should. We forget that God is not on our team, and God is not on our side. We are supposed to be on God's team, and on God's side.
 

Q: In Jon 4:1,4,,9 what happens when we are angry at God? (You might think back to Job).
A: God can take it. Keep talking with God, and ask God to change your heart to align with His. God can take our other sins too.
 

Q: In Jon 4:2, many people are angry at God because they have a wrong view of God. Was this the case with Jonah here?
A: No. Jonah had a correct view of God's power, and God wanting to relent and spare. Jonah had no love for the Ninevites, whom God created. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.385 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 4:3, how is Jonah saying he is angry enough to die similar to what Elijah said in 1 Ki 19:4?
A: No. In both cases they thought they were serving God faithfully, and they felt alone. However, Elijah suffered from exhaustion, and was depressed (not angry) because Jezebel was trying to get him and he was in danger. Jonah was angry because the Ninevites were spared, and God showed his displeasure with Jonah. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.386 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 4:5-6, why would Jonah get sun, if he had built a shelter?
A: It said he built the shelter east of the city, so he would probably get the afternoon sun.
 

Q: In Jon 4:6, why would Jonah be happy about the miraculously-growing vine?
A: Of course he would be happy it provided him shade. But more than that, it would seem to be a sign that God paid special attention to him, he was in God's favor, and God would make his words come true. When someone gives you a nice little gift, you are happy about the usefulness of the gift, but you are typically more happy that the person especially thought about you to give you a gift at all. Despite all he went through, Jonah could feel happy about this sign that he was vindicated and in God's will now.
 

Q: In Jon 4:7, after all Jonah went through, why would God provide a small worm to destroy the vine? Does God ever want to destroy things, or take them away, just because they make us happy?
A: It would feel like someone gave you a nice gift, and after you had it for an hour or so, they came and deliberately destroyed it in front of your eyes. Jonah's attitude and smoldering anger became visible, and that was the point. Jonah was not lukewarm any more.
 

Q: In Jon 4:8, what do we know about east winds in this part of the world?
A: A strong, hot east wind today in Palestine and Mesopotamia is called a sirocco. It can raise the temperature by 16 to 22 degrees F. The sirocco is very dry, drying up both skin and vegetation. When a sirocco comes, people will run to shelter. The sirocco came upon Jonah, but we don't know that it even affected Nineveh or not. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.387 for more info.
 

Q: In Jon 4:8-9, why would Jonah think he had a right to be angry about the vine?
A: Jonah might have thought that he had endured so much with God in the fish, and he had done so much for God, that God had the obligation to keep that vine that God had already provided. Jonah might have ignored the idea that God wants obedience more than sacrifice. God is not under obligation to us for anything. We are here to serve and please God, not the other way around.
 

Q: In Jon 4:10-11, God's main point was not about vines or Jonah's anger about vines? What was the whole point God was trying to communicate to Jonah about the vine?
A: Jonah could have gotten some materials and made his own shade. The vine only served to reveal to Jonah what was in Jonah's heart.
God was basically calling Jonah a hypocrite. Jonah cared about that vine, though Jonah had not cared for or tended it. Yet Jonah was made to know that God cared about these Ninevites, whom God had created.
 

Q: In Jon 4:11, a vine is different than an idol. This kind of vine is a good thing God gives us, then once we are used to it God takes it away, to teach us something. Were there any examples of vines in your life or in the lives of people you know?
A: It could be in school, jobs, or business opportunities. For a single person it could be romantic relationship.
 

Q: In Jon 4:8-11, even if God is firmly the most important in your life, are there other things that are more important to you than other people, and their salvation?
A: Sometimes people can let hobbies, entertainment, family, or even church and God's work be more important to them than God.
 

Q: In Jon 4:11, if God is number 1, but you love other things rather than other people, can you still be right in your love for God? (See 1 Jn 3:17; 4:12,20-21)
A: No. 1 John 3:17; 4:12,20-21 shows us that we are not really loving God when we do not love others. John tells us that love is bound up in obedience to God, and God commands us to love others. This is regardless of whether we feel like it or not.
 

Q: In Jon 4:5, why would this prophet go east of Nineveh to sit down?
A: The Khosr River was on the west side of Nineveh. An army invading Nineveh would likely come from the east side, and Jonah would first see it by sitting on the east side. Perhaps Jonah had "enough faith" to see Nineveh's destruction. However, God's working does not depend on our faith, but on His will.
 

Q: In Jon 4:6, what kind of gourd was this?
A: Scripture does not say if it was a normal type of plant that miraculously grew, or a species of plant that did not otherwise exist on earth. The skeptic Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.648 guesses that it was a castor-oil plant, which can grow to the size of a tree.
 

Q: In Jon 4:8, why would God bring an east wind to irritate Jonah?
A: Jonah was sitting east of the city to see the scourge that would come and destroy Nineveh. God did send a "scourge", but it was not to destroy Nineveh, but to bother Jonah. This seems to be rather fitting discipline for a believer whose attitude was irritating to God.
 

Q: In Jon 4:10, how did the population of Nineveh compare with other cities of that time?
A: Nineveh was very large for its time. Samaria had about 30,000 people, and Samaria was larger than Jerusalem according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.7 p.380. Now this large population of Nineveh at that time probably would not be able to sustain itself just by farming. It was a city that lived on conquest and tribute.
 

Q: In Jon 4:11, why did God mention the cattle to Jonah?
A: Most people with any compassion whatsoever would at least have some kindness towards animals, even though animals do not know right from wrong. People (including Ninevites), are more important than animals. The Ninevites were almost as ignorant of God's ways as the animals were. Since God cares about what he has made, shouldn't God care for the Ninevites, too?
 

Q: In Jon 4:11, did Jonah ever change his attitude and love the Assyrians?
A: It could have gone either way. The story leaving us hanging, and probably deliberately so. However, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1472, points out that the person who wrote down the book certainly shared God's heart on this matter. Since it is likely that either Jonah wrote this down himself, or Jonah dictated this to a scribe, perhaps Jonah did learn his lesson eventually.
 

Q: In Jon, do we have any extra-Biblical evidence of the Assyrians repenting?
A: Perhaps so. While the skeptical work Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.647 says no, there actually is evidence. The Assyrian army fought every single year, except that, strangely there were two years, around 758-757 B.C., where apparently they did not fight at all. While it cannot be proved that Jonah came during either of these two years, he came at approximately that time, and Jonah's preaching makes a good explanation for why a whole nation of career soldiers chose not to fight for two years. This was either under Ashur-dan III (about 772-754 B.C.) or else his successor Ashur-nirari V (about 754-647 B.C.).
Later the Assyrians went back to their old ways, and they were destroyed in 612 B.C., as Nahum 2:1-3:9 and Zephaniah 2:13-15 prophesied.
 

Q: In Jon, where was Jonah buried?
A: We do not know. But there is a tradition that Jonah was buried in northwest Iraq, close to the city of Nineveh. Muslims built a mosque over his tomb, and Sunni Muslims with ISIS destroyed in on July 25, 2014.
 

Q: In Jon, is this the reverse of the primitive concept of God wanting to exterminate non-Jews such as the Amalekites, as Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.648 claims?
A: No. Three points to consider in the answer.
The Assyrians were not yet enemies of God's people. In contrast, the Amalekites specifically tried to fight God's people and kill the stragglers.
Later prophets, including Jonah, were never critical of the earlier killing of the Canaanites and Amalekites.
God said through Moses that non-Canaanite peoples, including those who lived far away, were eligible to be friends and have a treaty with the Israelites.
Thus, Asimov wrote about an alleged "reversal of concept", when in reality there is complete harmony here between both the spirit and letter of the writings of Moses and Jonah.
 

Q: In Jon, what key questions can we ask ourselves as well as Jonah, after reading the book of Jonah?
A: Recognize that you are never too mature to stop guarding your faith. There are four key questions we could ask about Jonah. But when we ask about Jonah, we can also ask about ourselves.
Can Jonah travel far away enough from God's will for God to forget him?
Can Jonah sink down enough for God to abandon him?
Was it too late for Jonah to effectively server God again?
Could Jonah's heart have God's compassion for the lost?
 

Q: In Jon 4, why does the ending still leaving you guessing?
A: At the end of Jonah we are not given the resolution, as to whether Jonah softened his heart towards God or not. While this seem unsatisfying, I think this is deliberately so. If our heart turns cold towards God, and we become a bit like Jonah, it is up to us to write the ending; whether our heart will soften or not.
I would love to read the ending of Jonah, and there is not one given. I do not claim any gift of prophecy here, but just speculating there are two possible endings.
A) Jonah's heart stayed the way it was. He might have told others what God did in the past, but people were not very attracted to hearing about His faith now. He was dry and dusty once the worm ate the plant and he remained that way, spiritually , the rest of this life.
B) Jonah, laughed, when he realized that the miraculous plant, the miraculous worm, and the miraculous big fish all showed how much God cared for him to single him out these three times. He saw that his own plans, his own pride, and his own sense of what ought to be done, were insignificant compared to God and His love. He told God, it's been kind of embarrassing when I kept trying to take control; from now on, let's do things your way.
But as one person said, we have the book of Jonah today, so unless someone else observed Jonah's story, Jonah wrote or told it himself, which indicates he finally understand and his heart saw things God's way.
 

Q: In Jon, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (c.1 B.C.) There are 3 copies of Jonah among the Dead Sea scrolls, called 4Q76 (=4QXIIa), 4Q81 (=4QXIIf) AND 4Q82 (=4QXIIg). (The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated p.479). You can see a photocopy of Jonah 3:2-41 in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.540, dated about 100 A.D.
4Q76 contains Jonah 1:1-5,7-10,15-16; 2:1,7; 3:2.
4Q81 contains Jonah 1:6-8, 10-16.
4Q82 contains Jonah 1:1-9; 2:3-10; 3:1-3; 4:5-11.
However, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated p.478 mentions this scroll of the minor prophets contains Hosea and Nahum, but does not say it contains Amos and Jonah.
Nahal Hever is a cave near Engedi, that has a fragment of the twelve prophets in Greek (8 Hev XIIgr). According to Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.34, it is thought to have been written between 50 B.C. and 50 A.D.. It was hidden during the Bar Kokhba revolt against Rome. It is a revision of the Septuagint, made in Judea, and almost identical to the Masoretic text. It contains Jonah 1:14-16; 2:1-7; 3:2-5,7-10; 4:1-2,5
The wadi Murabb'at scroll (Mur XII) is from c.132 A.D. It contains Jonah 1:1-16; 2:1-11; 3:1-10 to 4:1-11. A photograph of Jonah 3:2-4:11 from the Murabba'at is in The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.540. It dates the scroll as c. 100 A.D.
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea scrolls, Nahal Hever, and wadi Murabb'at are the following verses of Jonah: 1:1-16; 2:1-10; 3:1-10; 4:1-11. Every verse has been preserved except Jonah 1:17. See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more details.
Christian Bible manuscripts, from about 350 A.D., contain the Old Testament, including Jonah. Two of these are Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) and Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) also has the entire book of Jonah. It start on the same page as Obadiah ends. It ends on the same page as Nahum starts.
Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.), where the books of the twelve minor prophets were placed before Isaiah. Jonah is complete in both Vaticanus and Alexandrinus.
 

Q: Which early writers referred to Jonah?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in Jonah are:
The apocryphal Ecclesiasticus 49:10 (before 190 B.C.) indicates that Jonah was present as part of the Book of the Twelve.
Clement of Rome (96-98 A.D.) "Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God." 1 Clement (vol.1) ch.7 p.7
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.)
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) quotes Jonah 1:9 and 2:2 as Jonah speaking. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.20.2 p.450
Clement of Alexandria
says, "And Jonah himself a prophet, intimates the same thing in what he say: 'And the shipmaster came to him, and said to him,
Why doest thou snore? Rise, call on thy God, that He may save us, and that we may not perish." The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 5 ch.141 p.474-475
Tertullian (207/208 A.D.) "In Jonah you find the signal act of His mercy, which He showed to the praying Ninevites." (Jonah 3:9) Five Books Against Marcion book 5 ch.11 p.452
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) "Was that, then, the reason why Jonah thought not repentance necessary to the heathen Ninevites, when he tergiversated in the duty of preaching? or did he rather, foreseeing the mercy of God poured forth even upon strangers, fear that that mercy would, as it were, destroy (the credit of) his proclamation?" On Modesty ch.10 p.84
Origen (225-254 A.D.) mentions Jonah in Against Celsus book 7 ch.57 vol.4 p.634
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) mentions Jonah "Water received Jonah into its depth for three days and nights, and then restored him quite sound." Dialogue on the True Faith Fifth part p.172 (Adamantius is speaking)
Methodius of Olympus and Patara (270-311/312 A.D.)
After Nicea (325 A.D.):
Athanasius of Alexandria
(367 A.D.) (Implied because mentions the twelve prophets) "There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; ... then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book...." Athanasius Easter Letter 39 ch.4 p.552.
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) quotes Jonah 2:2,6,8 as Jonah in Lecture 14.20 p.99
John Chrysostom (-407 A.D.) mentions Jonah the Prophet in vol.9 Concerning the Statues Homily 20.21 p.480
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) discusses the books of the Old Testament. He specifically discusses Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch, Job, Jesus son of Nave [Joshua], Judges, Ruth, Samuel Kings (2 books), twelve prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai,, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Letter 53 ch.7-8 p.99-101.
Sulpitius Severus (363-420 A.D.) refers to Jonah as Jonah in History book 1 ch.48 p.94
Augustine of Hippo (338-430 A.D.) mentions the prophet Jonah in The City of God book 18 ch.44 p.387
Among heretics and spurious books
Tatian's Diatessaron (died 170 A.D.) section 16 p.68 quotes Matthew 12:41 and Luke 11:24 about Jonah.
Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423.429 A.D.) quotes from Jonah 3:4 Commentary on Jonah ch.1 p.193
After Nicea there are other writers too.
 

Q: In Jon, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: Here are a few of the translation differences from chapter 3, the first being in Hebrew and the second being from the Greek Septuagint translation.
Jon 1:9 "I am a Hebrew" (Masoretic), vs. "I am a servant of the Lord" (Septuagint, Theodore of Mopsuestia in Commentary on Jonah ch.1 p.197)
Jon 2:4 "Surely I shall look" (Masoretic) vs. "How shall I look" (Theodotion)
Jon 3:2 "the proclamation that I am declaring to you" vs. "according to the former preaching which I spoke to thee of."
Jon 3:3 "great city to God" vs. "great city"
Jon 3:4 "40 days" (Masoretic) vs. "3 days" (Septuagint, Theodore of Mopsuestia in Commentary on Jonah ch.1 p.193)
Jon 3:6 "touched even the kings" vs. "reached the king"
Jon 3:6 "arose from his throne" vs. "rose from off his throne"
Jon 3:6 "robe" vs. "raiment/clothing"
Jon 3:7 "And he cried and said in Nineveh by the decree of the king and of his great ones" vs. "And proclamation was made, and it was commanded in Nineveh by the king and by his great men"
Jon 3:7 "men or beast, herd or flock" vs. "men, or cattle, or oxen, or sheep"
Jon 3:8 "But let man and beast" vs. "So men and cattle"
Jon 3:8 "And let them each one turn" vs. "and they turned every one"
Jon 3:10 "evil way" vs. "evil ways"
Jon 3:10 "was compassionate" vs. "repented"
Jon 4:1 "But it was a great calamity to Jonah's eye, and it kindled anger in him." vs. "But Jonas was very deeply grieved, and he was confounded."
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Green's Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton's translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositor's Bible Commentary and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.

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