The Book of Jonah

I. Title

          The title is the same in Hebrew as it is in English and Greek translations. The name Jonah means "dove" in Hebrew.

II. Author and Setting

          Jonah was the son of Amittai, and according to 2 Kings 14:25, he prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II. Jonah was raised in Galilee, in the city of Gath-hepher, which is located just a few miles north of Nazareth. The book dates to between 775 and 750 BC, and it describes how his special message to Nineveh was finally delivered.
          There is a Jewish tradition that states that Jonah was the son of the widow of Zarephath, the same child that Elijah raised from the dead. There is no hard evidence to prove this, however.
          Since the days of Omri in 885, the Northern Kingdom had suffered sporadic attacks by both Assyria and Syria. During the reign of Jeroboam II, Israel was living in relative peace and prosperity.
          Assyria, during Jonah's day, was on the rise as a world power. Nineveh, its capital, had a population of around 600,000. The king of Assyria when Jonah showed up with his message of repentance was either Shalmanezer IV (783-773 BC) or Ashurdan III (773-755 BC).

III. An Outline of Jonah

I. Jonah runs away 1:1-17
II. Jonah prays 2:1-10
III. Jonah obeys 3:1-10
IV. Jonah complains 4:1-11

Questions on Jonah

1. When did Jonah prophesy?
2. What great lesson was the book of Jonah intended to convey to Israel?
3. Why did Jonah flee to Tarshish?
4. Why didn't God just find another prophet to go to Nineveh?
5. What lesson does the book teach regarding God's sovereign purposes?