The following is an outline of the book of Jonah I used for a Bible study group.
Question: When I say, “Jonah,” what do you think of?
Historical Background: Eighth century B.C.—Jonah was a prophet from Israel (Northern Kingdom) called to preach repentance to Nineveh (Assyrian). Instead, he attempted to flee to Tarshish (Spain?). Jonah had many reasons not to like Nineveh.
- During Assyrian captivity they would torture. Their methods would be cutting the skin on the side of the body and peeling it off a live person.
- They would place bodies on spears for display.
1.1-6: The pagans aboard the ship were better pagans than Jonah was a Jew
- The pagans called on their gods
- They sought help from their gods before help from man
- Jonah could care less about anyone perishing
1.8-17: Jonah is tossed overboard and is swallowed by a big fish
- How could Jonah live?
- Natural: It has been well established that the phrase “three days and three nights” in ancient Hebrew usage was an idiomatic expression meaning simply “three days,” and was applicable even if the beginning and ending days of the period were only partial days. Thus it could refer to a period as short as about 38 hours. There is always some air in the whale’s stomach, and, as long as the animal it has swallowed is still alive, digestive activity will not begin. Thus, Jonah’s experience could possibly have happened entirely with the framework of natural law.
- Miracle: Jesus uses a simile to compare His miraculous resurrection like that of Jonah in the belly of the fish. Its literary comparison likens the Jonah situation to be miraculous, c.f. Mt 12.40.
read more »