Jonah 1

Recalcitrant Prophet[a]

Chapter 1

1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai: 2 “Go immediately to the great city of Nineveh and denounce it, for their wickedness has revealed itself to me.” 3 But Jonah decided to run away from the Lord and flee to Tarshish.[b] He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship that was about to sail to Tarshish. He paid his fare and boarded the ship to journey with the sailors to Tarshish, and away from the presence of the Lord.

4 However, the Lord caused a violent wind to stir up the sea, and such a furious storm arose that the ship seemed to be on the verge of breaking up. 5 The sailors were terror-stricken, and each of them cried out to his god. They also lightened the weight of the ship by throwing the cargo overboard.

Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship and was lying there fast asleep. 6 The captain found him there and said, “What are you doing there, sound asleep? Get up and call upon your God. Perhaps he will take pity on us and not allow us to perish.”

7 The sailors then said to each other, “Let us cast lots so that we can discover who is to blame for bringing us this bad luck.” Therefore, they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us why this calamity has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? What is your nationality?” 9 Jonah replied, “I am a Hebrew. I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 On hearing this, the sailors were even more terrified, and they said to him, “How could you have done this to us?” For they knew that he was fleeing from the Lord because he had told them so. 11 Then they said, “What shall we do with you to make the sea calm down for us?” For the sea was becoming increasingly more turbulent. 12 Jonah replied, “Pick me up and throw me overboard. Then the sea will calm down for you. I know it is my fault that this great storm has struck you.”

13 Even so, the sailors rowed with all their might to reach the shore, but they were unable to do so inasmuch as the sea was becoming increasingly turbulent. 14 Finally they cried out to the Lord, “Do not allow us to perish, Lord, for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us responsible for causing the death of an innocent man. For you yourself, O Lord, have brought this all about.” 15 Then they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the raging of the sea subsided. 16 On witnessing this, the men were seized by a great fear of the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.


  1. Jonah 1:1 The story of the whale resembles stories told among all the coastal peoples of the Mediterranean basin. It serves simply to end the whole episode, in the atmosphere of the marvelous, that pervades the entire account. Jesus will use Jonah’s experience with the whale as an image of his own burial and resurrection (see Mt 12:39-40; Lk 11:29-30).
  2. Jonah 1:3 Tarshish: perhaps Tartessos in Spain, a seaport that marked the outer limits of communication. Joppa: the Mediterranean port for Jerusalem.

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