INTRODUCTION TO Jonah
AFTER READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS FOR STUDY ONE.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW AN OUTLINE.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR A MAP OF THE KINGDOMS OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR A MAP OF ASSYRIA.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW OLD TESTAMENT BOOKS TIMELINE.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT ISRAEL'S HISTORY.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF MAJOR EVENTS FROM BABYLON TIMES TO ROMAN OCCUPATION OF JUDAH.
BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF ISRAEL'S KINGS AND PROPHETS.
Before analyzing the test of any book of the Bible, it is well to learn the historical background.
Also, it is best to make a "skyscraper" view of its general contents. Accordingly, this introduction is divided into two parts: background and survey.
- Author. Jonah
- Jonah means "dove" in Hebrew. He is the author. His ministry in regard to Nineveh, the Babylonian capital, is the subject. Jonah 1:1 states, "The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai"
- 2 Kings 14:25 further defines him as a prophet. It says, "He (Jeroboam II, King of Samaria) was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, in accordance with the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher."
- Jonah may have been one of the prophets working under Elisha guidance.
- Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea were contemporaries and perhaps Obadiah and Joel were too.
- Jonah's small hometown, Gath Hepher in Zebulun (Jos 19:10, 13), was three miles (5km) north-east Nazareth. The area became known as Galilee.
- Centuries later Nathan, one of Jesus' twelve disciples ask, "Nazareth, can anything good come from there." (John 1:46)
- A Pharisee once told Nicodemus, "Look into it and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee!" (However, two ancient sources says "the prophet".)
- Jesus spoke of the impact of Jonah's ministry. (Matt. 12:41-42)
- Jesus said that he would be in earth as Jonah was three days in the belly of a huge fish. (Matt. 12:40, 16:4; Luke 11:30)
- Date and Place of Writing
- Jonah's ministry was from 784 to perhaps as late as 722 B.C. This was during the reign of Jeroboam II, an evil king in the eyes of the Lord.
- A remarkable event happened in Jonah's lifetime. Jeroboam II extended the boarders of Israel (the northern kingdom) to its size as was during Solomon's reign (past Damascus). The victories the Lord God gave through Jeroboam II came when Damascus was defeated by the Assyrians in 797 B.C. (2 Kings 14:26-27) Damascus had prior to this dominated and controlled the northern kingdom. (2 Kings 13:7) After their victories instead of thanking their God who had given the victory and encouraging words through Elisha and Jonah, Israel and her king became proud and complacent. (Amos 6:1, 5:18-20) They even started to look for the Lord to destroy even more nations and thus make them the world power. Jonah's attitude toward Nineveh may reflect this exclusionary attitude.
- Jonah most likely wrote this account on his return from Nineveh to his hometown.
- Jonah addressed his book to anyone and everyone. However, his mission during the time in this book was to Nineveh an evil city.
- Jonah wanted all to know the love and truth of the Lord. Jonah did not exclude from his account his stubborn heart toward the mission the Lord gave him.
- Occasion and Purpose
Jonah has been serving as a prophet of the Lord when the Lord gave him a mission that he did not want to do. The Lord wanted Jonah to preach to Nineveh. At first Jonah tried to avoid the mission. However, no one can outrun and hide from the Lord. Reluctantly Jonah accepted his mission and performed it. However, Jonah's disdain for the evil people of Nineveh, Babylon's capital, never changed. He was upset when the Lord forgave repentant Nineveh.
- Form and Style
Jonah is a prophetic book written as a historical account.
Unlike most prophetic books in the Bible Jonah is a narrative account of a single prophetic mission. Its treatment of the mission is thus similar to the accounts of the ministries of Elijah and Elisha found in 1 and 2 Kings, and to certain narrative sections of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
- Place Among the Old Testament Books
- Jonah is the smaller of the Old Testament books. Scholars have placed it with the other eleven minor prophets.
- Just because scholars have classified twelve of the prophetic books as minor does not mean that their message is any less important than the four major prophets. In fact the New Testament quotes the minor prophets more than the major prophets.
Jonah has been serving as a prophet of the Lord when the Lord gave him a mission that he did not want to do. The Lord wanted Jonah to preach to Nineveh. At first Jonah tried to avoid the mission. However, no one can outrun and hide from the Lord. Reluctantly Jonah accepted his mission and performed it. However, Jonah's disdain for the evil people of Nineveh, Babylon's capital, never changed. He was upset when the Lord forgave repentant Ninevah.
CLICK HERE TO GO BACK TO Jonah STUDY 1 QUESTIONS
CLICK HERE TO GO BACK TO Jonah STUDY 1 COMMENTS
Click the house to go to the Bible Study HOME Page