Jonah 1:10
Then the men were even more afraid and said to him, "What have you done?" The men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
An Effective Hue and CryJ.E. Henry Jonah 1:4-10
Jonah DetectedG.T. Coster Jonah 1:7-10
The Fugitive ConvictedW.G. Blaikie Jonah 1:7-10

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, etc. The prayers of the mariners, and Jonah's prayer, if indeed he tried to pray (although that is hardly likely; see Jonah 4:2, "Then Jonah prayed"), led to no abatement of the storm. God's purpose was not to be accomplished in that way - Jonah was not to be restored in so easy a manner. But prayer may seem to be unanswered while it is answered - it is a link in a chain. A much more profound discipline had yet to be passed through in order that Jonah might be restored and the great purpose of his mission to Nineveh attained. Let us trace the next steps in the development of the providential plan.

I. THE MARINERS RESOLVE TO CAST LOTS. (Ver. 7.) This is a striking step. They might have given themselves up for lost, perhaps drowning their feelings, as sailors have often done, in intoxication (if that be not an exclusively modern practice); but they resolved to make another effort to save their lives and their ship. This proceeded on the belief that this storm was caused by some man's sin; and to find out who was the offender they determined to cast lots. A dangerous generalization, to ascribe a calamity to one man's sin, though in this case correct. Perhaps there were unusual circumstances in the storm that led them to reason thus. "If anything should happen strangely, as while we are in this mortality we may very well expect, we can take no better course than these shipmen presently to fear lest iniquity be the author of it" (Abbot). Casting lots was a peculiar device to ascertain a secret; religious use of lots, however, is very different from the careless appeal to the lot often made (see Joshua 7:16; 1 Samuel 10:21; Acts 1:26), The lot becomes legitimate only when all the ordinary methods of settling a difficulty have failed, and nothing remains but to make a solemn appeal to God.

II. THE LOT FALLS UPON JONAH. Picture his anxiety while the lot was being cast - his despair when it fell on him. This seems to have brought him to a sense of his sin: it was God's voice, "Thou art the man!" Jonah now broke down, prostrated by the little arrow from God's quiver. In walking through a hospital after a battle, two remarks are sometimes made - How easy to kill! and - How difficult to kill! Some bodies almost entire, yet killed; some fearfully shattered, yet alive. So we say - How difficult it is to humble! and How easy it is to humble! difficult for man, easy for God; man may reason, expostulate, apply truth, yet the offender may not in any degree be touched by it. A word, a look, a lot from God, makes one quite prostrate and helpless. What a power of rebuking and prostrating God may use at the last day!

III. JONAH QUESTIONED. All eyes are fixed on Jonah with eager curiosity to ascertain what he had done. The running fire of questions indicates desire for light on the strange transaction. They were chiefly anxious to know his crime, his occupation, and his country; either his personal guilt, or the guilt connected with his occupation, if it was an unlawful one, or with his country, or with his people; for there might be some horrible sin, perhaps committed of old by the people of his country, exposing them and him through them to the wrath of the gods. Why did they not act at once on the decision of the lot, and throw Jonah overboard? Probably they desired confirmation of it; it must be a painful transaction, and. they would like more authority for the step they were to take. It would be satisfactory to get Jonah to confess. It might throw light on the origin of storms, and be a useful hint for the future.

IV. JONAH'S ANSWER. The nobler aspect of Jonah's character now comes out - perfect ingenuousness and honesty; he knows his fate - death stares him in the face - yet there is no shrinking or fencing of any kind. He tells them:

1. He is a Hebrew, a member of the race that had so much to do with the powers above.

2. The God whom he worships is the God that made the sea and the dry land, and has absolute power over both.

3. He has fled from his presence, has offended him, and now God is showing his displeasure. Humiliating position, yet not without a certain grandeur - Jonah under the rebuke of God, his own conscience, and the heathen mariners. In reference to the mariners, he who might have been expected to bring them blessing has brought them trouble. His mouth is shut; he can say nothing for himself. There is something very striking in his undergoing the condemnation of the mariners. He had been afraid, apparently, of the bad opinion of the Ninevites, and had shunned his commission; but now he encounters the bad opinion of the mariners - with nothing to fall back on - his conscience and his God both against him. Yet there is a grandeur in his honest confession, in his attitude of thorough humility; there is a noble truthfulness now about him; he conceals nothing, though he must be the victim.

V. EFFECT ON THE MARINERS. They were exceedingly afraid. They felt a sense of the reality and nearness of a supernatural power - the power of the God who made the sea and now raises it in storm. The supernatural must be always very impressive - must have subduing effect whenever God is felt to be near, as in time of pestilence. The men now felt God near, in character of the righteous, holy Judge, punishing an offender - not like heathen gods, jesting at sin, but in terrible earnest against it. They seemed to have been impressed, and converted to God, for the soul may move very rapidly; deep impressions may be made very suddenly in time of great excitement. A great lesson to Jonah; if these rough heathen sailors were so deeply impressed by the fear of God, might not the Ninevites have been so too? They said to Jonah, "Why hast thou done this?" Strange aspect of sins of God's servants in eyes of world! God's servants have no cloak for their sins. The question must have cut Jonah to the quick. He could only echo it in blank amazement - Why have I done this? Observe the hollowness of all apologies for sin in the hour of judgment; sin, however sweet in the mouth, is bitter in the belly; "lust, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." The horror and misery of the ship's company are a type of the effects of sin, of one sin, by a servant of God. "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins." O sin, what a monster art thou! what tragedies come out of thee I how dost thou involve others in ruin, as the drunkard's family! God give us a true sense of it, and teach us to hate it in every form, and guard against its minutest seeds, lest, like the dragon's teeth, they breed against us hosts of armed men! Let each one often put the question, in reference to his sins, "Why hast thou done this?" Sinned against God and man, and against thine own soul, and against thine own children? Better we should put the question and answer it in time, than wait till God puts it in the day of judgment. - W.G.B.

Now the Word of the Lord came unto Jonah.
The commission may be viewed —


1. Supreme, as the Word of the Lord.

2. Peremptory; it is absolute, imperative, final.

3. Honourable. As associating the commissioned with the commissioner.Investing him with royal rights, privileges, honours.


1. In his filial relationship: the son.

2. In his official capacity: prophet. Learn —(1) That in the economy of moral purposes God makes use of creature agency.(2) That appointments in this economy are specific and sovereign.(3) That the rewards of faithfulness in Christian service will be promotion here, and coronation hereafter.

III. IN ITS PURPORT. "Arise, go to Nineveh." It is —

1. A summons to activity. Shake off dull sloth. Rouse thee from careless ease.(1) The physical plays an important part in the execu tion of Divine purposes.(2) The will too must give its sanction, or all the activ ities will be held in restful subjection. Where there is no will-power a man is a mere tool in the hands of others.

2. A call to arduous duty. Note —(1) Its sphere. "Nineveh, that great city." In God's great busy world there is a definite sphere for everyone.(2) Its spirit. "Cry against it." Energy was to rise to its highest point. To cry requires energy of soul; a vivid realisation of sin, and moral courage.

(J. O. Keen, D. D.)

We are apt to think that this coming of the Word of the Lord to men in ancient times was so special a circumstance that it has no application to ourselves. How rarely it occurs to us that he who spoke to the prophets in times past is now speaking unto us as directly and vividly, by the ministry of the Holy Ghost. How are we to understand that the Word of the Lord has come to us? Have we a strong conviction of duty? That is the Word of the Lord. We should ask, not "what is expedient?" but "what is right?" If a thing is right, then it is a revelation from God; it is a testimony of the Holy Ghost in my heart; and at all risks it must be done. No man knows what he is, and what he can do, until he knows the severity of the behests of God. Our call, like Jonah's, is to go wherever wickedness is, and cry against it. Every child of God is to be a protesting prophet. Every earnest man is to have no difficulty in finding the word of condemnation when he comes into the presence of sin. In Jonah we have a man falling below the great occasions of life. Every man has some great chance put into his hands. How possible it is to be doing instead some little peddling work, to be mistaking fuss for energy, and an idle industry for that holy consecration which absorbs every power. It is said that Jonah "paid his fare." How particular some of us are about these little pedantries of morality! Many of us are making up by pedantries what we are wanting in the principles of our life. We have good points without having a good soul; we have beautiful characteristics without having a solid and undoubted character. Jonah has paid his fare, but he has forsaken God. Can a man like that do anything right? It is said that the mariners " cast forth their wares." The bad man never suffers alone. This bad man causes a loss of property. He paid his fare, but it was taken out again in the loss of the wares. Wickedness is the cause of social loss What a crying out for gods there is in the time of trouble! Note the instinctiveness of the religious element that is in man. We are all religious. What was wrong was found out at last, in the case of Jonah, and they cast him into the sea, which then ceased from its raging. Nothing is ever settled until it is settled right.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

was a man of the northern kingdom, — an Israelite prophet, who had been foretelling the highest prosperity to which the Ten Tribes ever attained, and the widest extension which, under Jeroboam II., their territory ever received. Nineveh was a Gentile, that is to say, a heathen city; the very city, moreover, from which were to come those judgments and the destruction which prophets like Jonah's contemporary, Amos, were about this time beginning to announce as certain to fall upon Israel at no very distant date. Jonah, the Israelite, then, was sent to a heathen city, and — whether he knew it or not — to that particular enemy of his country from which there was most to fear. To an Israelite patriot, with even the smallest intimation of this, how natural to say, "To Nineveh?" No, let Nineveh go on and sin, and perish; the sooner the safer for my country. To warn Nineveh, and so to turn away its doom — what is that but to keep alive the fire which is to consume our Samaria and our national life? In any case, whether Jonah felt any patriotic difficulty or not, the religious difficulty was great enough. To go to heathen people with God's message, one of mercy as he saw clearly, quite as much as of judgment — that alone was repugnant to all his instincts. "No; rather let me no longer be one of the prophets who stand in the presence of Jehovah, ready for any errand, awaiting His commands. Rather let me lay down my office, and go out from before His face. Let me die first!" That is the heart of a good man, but of a narrow one. It is not the heart of the God even of the Old Testament. It is sometimes made matter of reproach to the New Testament, and to Christianity, as it is there expounded, that it makes little or no account of patriot ism. There is some truth in the criticism; but why? Patriotism has often been a noble thing; but it is really a narrow thing, narrower, at any rate, than the heart and view of God. The patriot sees and loves his fellow-countrymen; God only sees man! He loves Israel, even to idolatrous Israel of the Ten Tribes. But God loves the world. God so loved the world that He would have one of the earliest, if not the earliest, of the prophetic writers to go and offer His mercy to a heathen city, the enemy of His people.

(H. J. Foster.)

One of the most remarkable facts about the Book of Jonah is, that while he himself is so prominent in it, yet there is not a word from beginning to end of comment upon his character and conduct. No word is said of his state of mind, his sense of sin, his repentance, his return to the attitude of submission and prompt obedience to the Divine command. The facts are set before us in the barest, most naked simplicity, without one single sentence of reflection. The only probable and consistent view of the work is, that Jonah wrote it himself. He therefore said as little about himself as possible. He told the facts with all their weight of meaning against his own character, just as they were, without a line of exculpation or condemnation.

1. The first point at which the narrative may be said to touch the personal character of the prophet is the flight to Joppa. Here is a man, conscious of special inspiration and authority, doing direct violence to the Word of the Most High! We must begin our study with this conviction — Jonah meant nothing throughout like determined rebellion against God. From the first he seems to have understood the mission to have been one of mercy, and not of destruction. The man had laid hold of the thought of Divine goodness and compassion. Jonah's sin was not apostasy from God. He simply shrunk from the mission. The struggle in Jonah's mind must have been the result either of personal feeling or of mistaken ideas. It may have been personal feeling that lay at the root of his conduct. There was personal danger. He did not care to preach to heathen. But his feelings were founded on false ideas about God, and about the people of God, and their vocation. Another view may be taken of Jonah's mind. He anticipated the result of his mission, and did not like it. His prediction would be falsified in the result. And a mission to the stronghold of heathenism seemed quite a new departure in the religious history of Israel. It seemed to Jonah a change in the Divine action, so stupendous that he could not drive out of his mind doubts as to the authority of the message.

2. Look at another point, — the sleep into which the prophet fell instantly that he went down into the ship is quite consistent with a state of perplexity and fear. He was so wearied with the mental strain and struggle, so burdened with the weight of a reproachful conscience, that he gladly hid himself from the faces of his fellow-men, and sought the darkness and solitude of his sleeping place, where nature asserted its demands, and he was soon wrapt in unconsciousness. When he was awakened he had no crime to confess, such as heathen men would understand, and condemn by the light of moral law. Jonah's character was defective rather than corrupt. Like the Apostle Peter, he needed a great deal of teaching, but the root of his piety was sound and deep. He put himself at once into the hands of the chastising Jehovah.

(R. A. Redford, M. A.)

1. In his solemn discovery and apprehension. Sin hath entered among us, and the Creator is angry. Some victim is awanting to pacify His just indignation; but where is the sacrifice to be found? At length a merciful Heaven interposes, and the sacrifice is revealed.

2. In the generous self-devotement of the prophet. Applied to the doctrine of substitution, everything is plain, everything is instructive.

3. In his descent to the place of the dead. Two circumstances in the descent of Jonah.

(1)His descent to the grave. "Out of the belly of hell."

(2)In the midst of all this suffering the prophet was yet alive.

4. In the doctrine of Messiah's resurrection.

5. In the mission of Jonah to the Gentiles. His was just the commission of Jesus. To the lost sheep of the house of Israel He first turned His eyes; then He sent His disciples to the four winds of heaven, saying, "Preach the Gospel to every creature."

(James Simpson.)

Amittai, Jonah, Tarshish
Joppa, Mount Esau, Nineveh, Tarshish
Afraid, Already, Exceedingly, Extremely, Face, Fear, Fled, Fleeing, Flight, Frightened, Hast, Kept, Presence, Running
1. Jonah, sent to Nineveh, flees to Tarshish.
4. He is betrayed by a great storm;
11. thrown into the sea;
17. and swallowed by a fish.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Jonah 1:10

     5819   cowardice
     8754   fear

Jonah 1:1-10

     5178   running

Jonah 1:3-15

     5517   seafaring

Jonah 1:4-17

     5828   danger

Jonah 1:10-12

     8718   disobedience

Guilty Silence and Its Reward
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
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Christian Graces.
FAITH. FAITH! Peter saith, faith, in the very trial of it, is much more precious than gold that perisheth. If so, what is the worth or value that is in the grace itself? Faith is so great an artist in arguing and reasoning with the soul, that it will bring over the hardest heart that it hath to deal with. It will bring to my remembrance at once, both my vileness against God, and his goodness towards me; it will show me, that though I deserve not to breathe in the air, yet God will have me an heir
John Bunyan—The Riches of Bunyan

Whether Divination by Drawing Lots is Unlawful?
Objection 1: It would seem that divination by drawing lots is not unlawful, because a gloss of Augustine on Ps. 30:16, "My lots are in Thy hands," says: "It is not wrong to cast lots, for it is a means of ascertaining the divine will when a man is in doubt." Objection 2: There is, seemingly, nothing unlawful in the observances which the Scriptures relate as being practiced by holy men. Now both in the Old and in the New Testament we find holy men practicing the casting of lots. For it is related
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

The Careless Sinner Awakened.
1, 2. It is too supposable a case that this Treatise may come into such hands.--3, 4. Since many, not grossly vicious, fail under that character.--5, 6. A more particular illustration of this case, with an appeal to the reader, whether it be not his own.--7 to 9. Expostulation with such.--10 to 12. More particularly--From acknowledged principles relating to the Nature of Got, his universal presence, agency, and perfection.--13. From a view of personal obligations to him.--14. From the danger Of this
Philip Doddridge—The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul

Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12). In our last chapter we considered at some length the much debated and difficult question of the human will. We have shown that the will of the natural man is neither Sovereign nor free but, instead, a servant and slave. We have argued that a right conception of the sinner's will-its servitude-is essential to a just estimate of his depravity and ruin. The utter corruption and degradation of human nature is something which
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God

Sign Seekers, and the Enthusiast Reproved.
(Galilee on the Same Day as the Last Section.) ^A Matt. XII. 38-45; ^C Luke XI. 24-36. ^c 29 And when the multitudes were gathering together unto him, ^a 38 Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. [Having been severely rebuked by Jesus, it is likely that the scribes and Pharisees asked for a sign that they might appear to the multitude more fair-minded and open to conviction than Jesus had represented them to be. Jesus had just wrought
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Nature of Covenanting.
A covenant is a mutual voluntary compact between two parties on given terms or conditions. It may be made between superiors and inferiors, or between equals. The sentiment that a covenant can be made only between parties respectively independent of one another is inconsistent with the testimony of Scripture. Parties to covenants in a great variety of relative circumstances, are there introduced. There, covenant relations among men are represented as obtaining not merely between nation and nation,
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The book of Jonah is, in some ways, the greatest in the Old Testament: there is no other which so bravely claims the whole world for the love of God, or presents its noble lessons with so winning or subtle an art. Jonah, a Hebrew prophet, is divinely commanded to preach to Nineveh, the capital of the great Assyrian empire of his day. To escape the unwelcome task of preaching to a heathen people, he takes ship for the distant west, only to be overtaken by a storm, and thrown into the sea, when, by
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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