1 Now the word of the LORD 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.
3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
4 But the LORD 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 god, 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 meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God 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 thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?
9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, 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 the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.
15 So they look up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.
17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
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Chapter 1 of the Book of Jonah in the King James Version (KJV) Holy Bible is a profound narrative of God's call, human disobedience, divine chastisement, and the interplay of human and divine will. This chapter, which forms the introductory part of the four-chapter book, sets the stage for a profound exploration of God's mercy, the universality of His love, and the potential consequences of disregarding His directives. This narrative is centered around Jonah, a prophet who is called upon by God to prophesy against the wicked city of Nineveh, but who in fear and defiance, attempts to flee from God's presence.
The chapter begins with God's command to Jonah, instructing him to go to the city of Nineveh and cry against it due to its wickedness before Him (Jonah 1:2). This divine directive sets the stage for the ensuing drama. Jonah, however, instead of obeying God's command, decides to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He goes down to Joppa and finds a ship going to Tarshish, pays the fare, and goes down into it to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord (Jonah 1:3). This act of disobedience illustrates the theme of human will in conflict with divine will, a recurring motif in Biblical narratives.
As Jonah is on his way to Tarshish, God sends a great wind upon the sea, causing a mighty tempest that threatens to break the ship. The sailors, fearful for their lives, each cry out to their gods and throw the ship's cargo into the sea to lighten the load. Meanwhile, Jonah has gone down into the lower parts of the ship, where he lies down and falls into a deep sleep. The shipmaster finds him and admonishes him for his indifference, urging him to call upon his God for help (Jonah 1:4-6). This series of events introduces the theme of divine chastisement and highlights the futility of attempting to escape from God's presence.
The sailors, desperate to understand the cause of the storm, cast lots to determine who is to blame for their predicament. The lot falls on Jonah, and they interrogate him, asking about his occupation, where he comes from, and the nature of his God. Jonah confesses that he is a Hebrew and that he fears the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land. The sailors are exceedingly afraid upon learning that Jonah is fleeing from the presence of such a powerful God (Jonah 1:7-10). This scenario underscores the theme of divine providence and justice, demonstrating that God's will cannot be thwarted by human actions.
Upon realizing the cause of their plight, the sailors ask Jonah what they should do to him to calm the sea. Jonah, recognizing his culpability, tells them to throw him into the sea. Initially, the sailors attempt to row back to land, but the sea grows more tempestuous against them. Finally, in desperation, they pray to the Lord, asking for forgiveness for taking Jonah's life, and then they throw him into the sea. The sea immediately ceases from its raging, leaving the sailors in awe of God's power, prompting them to offer a sacrifice to the Lord and make vows (Jonah 1:11-16). This part of the narrative emphasizes the theme of repentance and sacrifice, illustrating the power of acknowledging one's wrongs and making amends.
The chapter concludes with God preparing a great fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah remains in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17). This miraculous event showcases the theme of divine preservation and foreshadows the resurrection of Christ, as later referenced by Jesus Himself in Matthew 12:40. It also serves as a testament to God's omnipresence and His ability to deliver His servants from seemingly hopeless situations.
The first chapter of the Book of Jonah presents a compelling narrative of divine-human interaction. It explores the consequences of disobedience to God's commands, the futility of attempting to flee from His presence, and the inevitability of His justice. The chapter also underscores the mercy and preservation of God, even in the face of human defiance. Ultimately, Chapter 1 of Jonah teaches us that God's will is unassailable and that obedience to His commands, though sometimes difficult and challenging, is the path to divine favor and preservation.