JONAH: Fifth of the Minor Prophets in the arrangement of the English version. He is called the son of Amittai, and, according to II Kings xiv. 25, uttered a prophecy concerning Jeroboam II. The book is distinguished from other prophetical books by the fact that it is not the prophecy, but the personal experiences of the man, in which the interest seems to center. To escape the divine summons to preach repentance to Nineveh, Jonah embarked from Joppa for Tarshish, but during a storm was, at his own advice and by the issue of a lot, thrown overboard, and swallowed by a great fish (i. 17). Three days afterward he was thrown up upon the land, and, after a second summons, began preaching to the Ninevites. When both king and people began to repent, Jonah became indignant at the divine compassion, but was convinced by God of his foolishness through a gourd (iv.). Many have regarded the book as an allegory or a poetic myth, while others hold that it was a national prophetic tradition designed to serve a didactic aim, and contained some elements of historic truth. Those who regard the book as history appeal to the geographical and historical notices in the prophecy; for example, the accuracy of the description of Nineveh and the fitness of Jonah's mission at that


particular period, when Israel was coming into contact with Assyria. Those who deny the credibility make much of the abundance of the miraculous, especially of the story of the great fish; but this incident is consistent with our Lord's use of it (Matt. xii. 39 sqq.) to illustrate his own resurrection by the use of material gathered from folk-lore. The central purpose of the book is to teach that the heathen world is called to the knowledge of Yahweh to take its place in his kingdom (iv. 10-11).

That the Jonah of II Kings xiv. 25 has set down in this book his experiences is nowhere indicated. The narrative at beginning and end is so abrupt that it has probably come out of a cycle of narratives like those which center about Elisha; indeed, an old Haggadah calls Jonah a prophet of Elisha's school. There is much difference about the date. Because of the use of the perfect tense in iii. 3b, the book must postdate the fall of Nineveh (606 B.C.); and linguistic indications agree with this, though it should not be brought below the fifth pre-Christian century. Attempts to find Jahvistic and Elohistic sources in the book are not a success.

(W. VOLCK†.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Commentaries are: Ephraem Syrus, The Repentance of Nineveh, Eng. transl., London, 1853; S. Mitchell, Philadelphia, 1875; M. Kalisch, in Bible Studies, part ii., London, 1878 (gives conspectus of earlier literature); A. E. O'Connor, Geneva, 1883; C. H. H. Wright, Biblical Studies, Edinburgh, 1886; H. Martin, Edinburgh, 1891; C. von Orelli, Munich, 1896, Eng. transl., New York, 1893; J. Kennedy, London, 1895; W. Nowack, Göttingen, 1897; G. A. Smith, Book of the Twelve, vol. ii., London, 1898 (best); F. Hitzig, ed. H. Steiner, Leipsic, 1904; E. B. Pussy, Minor Prophets, new issue, London, 1907. Special treatises are: J. Friedrichsen, Uebersicht über die . . . Ansichtenüber Jona, Leipsic, 1841; W. Drake, Notes on Jonah and Hosea, London, 1853; T. K. Cheyne, Theological Review, 1877, pp. 211-219; K. Vollers, in ZATW, iii (1883), 219 sqq., iv (1884), 1 sqq.; W. Böhme, in ZATW, vii (1887), 224 sqq. (on the literary composition); A. Merx, Chrestomathia Targumica, pp 132-139, Berlin, 1897 (gives the Targum on Jonah); H. Schmidt, Jona, Eine Untersuchung zur vergleichenden Religionsgeschicte, Göttingen, 1907; DB, ii. 744-753; EB, ii. 2565-2571; JE, vii. 225-230.


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