A map of where Nineveh is.
A much loved story of the Bible.
Jonah and the whale is a much loved and famous Bible story, told in Sunday School classes all around the world. Although the book of Jonah is a short book in the Bible, at only 4 chapters long, it is one of the most famous stories to be told. But aside from Jonah going inside the belly of a whale, there is so much more to this man. A short book it may be, but it is jam packed with adventure.
The Book of Jonah was written approximately 785 - 760 BC. Jonah was a prophet, albeit a reluctant one. He was sent by God to preach in Nineveh. Nineveh is the most important city in Assynia. Although Jonah does not say much about Nineveh, Nahum does tell us a little bit more about its wickedness.
Nahum 1:9 - Why are you scheming against the Lord? He will destroy you, with one blow, he will strike you twice!
Nahum 2:13 - "I am your enemy!" says the Lord of Heaven's armies. "Your chariots will soon go up in smoke. Your young men will be killed in battle. Never again will you plunder conquered nations. The voices of your proud messengers will be heard no more."
Nahum 2:12 - The lion tore up meat from his cubs and strangled meat for his mate. He filled his den with prey, his cavern with his plunder.
Jonah is also mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25 - Jeroboam II recovered the territories of Israel between Lebo-Harrath and the Dead Sea, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had promised through Jonah, son of Amitta, the prophet from Gath-hepher.
At the beginning of the book God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh to announce his judgement to them as the people have been so wicked. But Jonah was afraid. Instead, he boarded a ship in Joppa where he set sail to Tarshish. H was afraid and ran from God. Jonah knew how evil and wicked the people of Nineveh was, and was afraid to go. But as the ship set sail, a storm broke out. The crew of the ship was afraid of this. The sailors started throwing stuff into the sea to lighten the load on the ship. Surprisingly, Jonah slept right through it. When the Captain woke him, he asked how he could have slept through such a raging storm. He instructed him to pray for their lives.
As the storm raged, the sailors decide to throw Jonah into the sea. At this point the storm stopped straight away. In Jonah 1:17 it states that God arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And he was inside the fish for 3 days and 3 nights.
Chapter 2 is a prayer that Jonah says to God. This is more of a prayer of thanksgiving whilst inside the fish. He thanks God for not letting him die, but for sparing his life. This may seem strange, considering the situation he's in. But on the other hand, he could have so easily died!
Jonah & the whale
Miracles in the book of Jonah
|The Miracle||The Bible Passage|
God sent a violent storm.
God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah
God ordered the fish to spit up Jonah
God made a leafy plant to shade Jonah
God arranged for a worm to eat the plant.
God arranged for a scorching wind to blow on Jonah.
God gives Jonah a chance
In Chapter 3 we read how God gives Jonah a second chance and instructs him to go to Nineveh and deliver the message he had given him. In verse 4 Jonah enters Nineveh and told the crowd of people that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days. Although there was a lot of wickedness here, we see in verse 10 how the people listened to Jonah and repented. When God saw this, he changed his mind about what he said.
In Chapter 4 we read how Jonah becomes angry with God. He thinks that God should not of spared the people of Nineveh. He could not understand why God was being merciful and forgiving. It's interesting to read how Jonah was angry at God for sparing the people of Nineveh, yet God saved him from the fish, sparing his life.
In chapter 4 verse 4 Jonah left Nineveh to see what would happen in the city. Whilst he waited, God arranged for a plant to grow. The leaves grew large enough to shade Jonah. God is, indeed, a miraculous God, even if we are angry with him.
The book of Jonah
At just 4 chapters long, this is a relatively short book in the Bible. But, it is still packed with highs and lows. We see how God, in the beginning, wants to destroy the people of Nineveh for the wickedness that has been in this vast city. But when they repent after Jonah tells them what God is going to do, God spares them. This disappoints Jonah greatly and he leaves the city to see what will happen. Even though he is angry with God, God still gives him a plant to shade under. God is still an all loving God. And this has been proven in the book of Jonah. He survives in the big fish for 3 days and 3 nights, thanks to God.
The Bible verses I gave are from the Life Application Study Bible. I particularly like this Bible. I find it very helpful with parts of the Bible I struggle to understand. Jonah was certainly a troubled man. He did, however, did what God told him to and went to the people of Nineveh and told them what God said.
Robert Sacchi on August 26, 2018:
Louise Powles (author) from Norfolk, England on August 26, 2018:
Robert, thankyou for the lovely comment. Interesting points you've made there, especially about the Bible using the term, big fish. Good point, thankyou.
Robert Sacchi on August 25, 2018:
I heard a homily from a priest who described Jonah as an anti-prophet. He asked us to picture Homer Simpson as Jonah, complete with the "dohs". Yes, it is an interesting read. Technical point: The Bible doesn't say "whale" but a big fish. The Koran does say he was swallowed by a whale,
Jose Rizal Reyes from Tabing Dagat, Odiongan, Romblon, Philippines on August 03, 2017:
This is a great write, Louise. So aside from sipping coffee and sharing your knowledge about films, you are also into Bible study and theology?
Lori Colbo from United States on April 30, 2017:
I love the book of Jonah. Reluctant indeed. The last chapter where he's pouting and throwing a tantrum because God did what He said by saving Nineveh and the subsequent lesson with the bush and the worm are funny, but also pathetic. I recently heard a funny joke about the story of Jonah:
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales and how she had heard in Sunday School about how a whale had swallowed Jonah.
The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small.
The little girl remained steadfast in her position and reiterated that indeed, a whale had swallowed Jonah.
Irritated, the teacher again stated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, "I'm not sure how it happened, but when I get to heaven I will ask Jonah."
The teacher replied smugly, "What if Jonah isn't in heaven?"
The little girl replied, "Then you ask him."
FlourishAnyway from USA on March 22, 2017:
I was intrigued by your map and can't help but wonder what if anything remains today to designate the historical and cultural significance of this place. It may have been obliterated in the war.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 22, 2017:
This bible story brought me back to a time when I was teaching a class of teenagers the books of the bible in summer bible school. They were having trouble learning the book of Jonah, and I said, " Who was it that swallowed the whale? " The kids laughed so hard, and so did I. I certainly meant to say what was the name of the man who got swallowed by a whale? Thanks for the clear analysis of the book of Jonah, and the map of the area...
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 22, 2017:
Jonah's prayer in Chapter 2 is my favorite part of the book. "“I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. . . But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!" It reminds me that God gives second chances even when we are foolish enough to create our own tragedy. Thanks for the synopsis of this miracle.