Contact Us

The Book of Jonah

The Book of Jonah

 Email

Chapter One

Now the word of G‑d came to Jonah the son of Amitai saying: "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me."

But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of G‑d, and went down to Jaffa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish, so he paid the fare of it, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of G‑d.

And G‑d hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship seemed likely to be wrecked. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man to his god, and threw out the articles that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them. But Jonah was gone down into the recesses of the ship; and he lay down, and was fast asleep.

So the shipmaster came to him, and said to him: "What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon your god, perhaps G‑d will think upon us, that we perish not!"

And they said, each 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.

Then they said to him: "Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; what is your occupation? and where do you come from? what is your country? and of what people are you?"

And he said to them: "I am a Hebrew; and I fear G‑d, the G‑d of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land." Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and they said to him: Why have you done this? For the men knew that he had fled from the presence of G‑d, because he had told them.

Then they said to him; "What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm for us?" For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. And he said to them; "Take me up, and cast me into the sea, so shall the sea be calm for you; for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you."

The men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not; for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. So they cried to G‑d, and said: "We beseech You, O G‑d, we beseech You, let us not perish for this mans life, and lay not upon us innocent blood; for You, O G‑d, have done as it pleased You."

They took up Jonah, and cast him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared G‑d exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to G‑d, and made vows.

Chapter Two

And G‑d appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

Then Jonah prayed to G‑d his G‑d out of the fish's belly, and said:

I cried to G‑d out of my distress, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell I cried, and You did hear my voice.

For You did cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods compassed me about; all Your billows and all Your waves passed over me.

Then I said: I am cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again towards thy holy temple.

The waters compassed me about, to the point of death; the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains, the earth with her bars closed on me forever; yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O G‑d my G‑d.

When my soul fainted within me I remembered G‑d; and my prayer came in to You, into thy holy temple.

They that guard lying vanities forsake their loyalty. But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation belongs to G‑d.

And G‑d commanded the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

Chapter Three

And the word of G‑d came to Jonah the second time, saying: "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I bid you." So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of G‑d.

Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city a days journey, and he cried, and said: "Another forty days, and Nineveh shall be overturned!"

And the people of Nineveh believed G‑d, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. And word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying: "Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing; let them not feed, nor drink water; but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to G‑d; and let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their lands. Who can tell? G‑d may turn and relent, and turn away from his fierce anger, so that we perish not."

And G‑d saw their deeds, in that they turned from their evil way; and G‑d repented of the evil, which He had said that he would do to them; and He did not do it.

Chapter Four

It displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was vexed.

And he prayed to G‑d, and said: "I pray thee, O G‑d, was not this my saying, when I was still in my own country? Therefore I fled beforehand to Tarshish; for I knew that You are a gracious G‑d, and merciful, slow to anger, and great in love and repentest of the evil. Therefore now, O G‑d, take my life from me, I pray thee; for it is better for me to die than to live." And G‑d said: "Are you so greatly vexed?"

Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city; and there he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would come to pass in the city.

And G‑d appointed a castor oil plant (kikayon), and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to deliver um from his distress. And Jonah was exceeding glad of the plant.

Then G‑d appointed a worm when the dawn came up the next day, and it attacked the plant, so that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that G‑d prepared a vehement east vind, and the sun beat down upon the head of Jonah, so that he fainted; so he asked that he might die, and he said: It is better for me to die than to live.

And G‑d said to Jonah: "Are you so greatly vexed on account of the plant?" And he said: "I am greatly vexed to death"

And G‑d said: "You are concerned about the castor oil plant, for which you have not labored and which you did not rear, which came up in a night, and perished in a night; and should I not be concerned for Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons that cannot discern between your right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?"

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
10 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous IN February 5, 2015

I'm disturbed by the verse in chapter3 "G-d repented of the evil which He said that he was going to do to them ..." I didn't think G-d was capable of evil. Can anyone explain? Reply

Anonymous Boston, MA October 4, 2014

Yes. Jonah was literally in the belly of a fish. If you will do a search online, you will see that other humans have been swallowed by fish and lived. They often become white from the acid in the fish's stomach, particularly a whale's stomach. We can choose to doubt anything that happens, but our doubt does not negate its happening. We could say, Did the four Hebrew children really walk around in an oven that was heated seven times hotter than normal? It must not have been that hot. Okay, so, then, how did the men who threw them in die from the heat and flames as they leapt from the oven? The men on the ship who threw Jonah overboard experienced violent and stormy seas. When they threw Jonah overboard, the sea was calm, and God still needed to get Jonah to Ninevah to warn the people, so He sent a fish. It might sound unlikely, but it equally unlikely for an axe head to float or for the Red Sea to part. People also suggest the Red Sea had a low tide. If that's true, then it was a bigger miracle that pharaoh and his army drowned in it. Reply

sophia ny May 19, 2013

Fish So what literally was the fish? Are we to think he literally was in the belly of a fish from the water? What do we believe of this? Reply

Todd Long Beach, CA September 20, 2010

Jonah the goat Jonah is like the goat upon whom the lot of life is cast. Jonah cannot choose this fate. Note he is cast away by the other humans in the story, and that they immediately offer a sacrifice to G-d afterwards. Jonah is not a character to be admired -- he is filled with the sins of other humans: he runs from G-d, he does not care for the suffering of the others on the boat, he prays (falsely) only when faced with death, and does not rejoice in helping save Nineveh. Instead he sits on the hill and wants only his own entertainment (the end of Nineveh), and is sad when it is denied. I find the vine story portion unusual, as if taken from another story, but it still illustrates that Jonah possesses many other sins which we seek to cast away on Yom Kippur.

I am always surprised that people find Jonah an inspiring character; I suppose people like this story because it tells a tale that we hope is true: that G-d is a forgiving and gentle father to those in big cities and to the goats too Reply

Elisha Benjamin Ankri/Benjilini Brooklyn, NY September 17, 2010

Feeling Alone But Remaining Strong! For many years, I have been asked to read to the "Book of Jonah" on Yom Kippur. I believe G-D is telling me "Not to give up" on myself, my dreams, and to remember the power of "Teshuva!" As the only Jewish male in my public school over the course of a 25 year span, I TRULY believe the ALMIGHTY is protecting me from the negative elements outside of my gymnasium. I am better off here away from the negativity that permeates our non-Jewish and Jewish brothers and sisters. I have seen so much hardship from my childhood and thru adulthood, However, I have NEVER lost focus to continue my task of self improvement, serve our youth as their physical education and health ed. teacher. Indeed, their shining love towards to me and my deep caring attitude towards them, has taught me to truly LOVE all people regardless of the color of their skin or the beliefs of their faith!. There are good and bad people in all cultures but most people are good! I may be physically alone but never spiritually! PEACE! Reply

Ria Coral Springs October 29, 2009

Running Away Every time I think about running away from it all & living in a cottage at the edge of a cliff near the sea, where no one can find me: I am led to the book of Jonah... My bible literally falls open to it!

The story illustrates how we try to run from who we're meant to be... who the Lord means us to be.

We look for meaningless escapes instead of meaningful vocation, then run at the first site of stress and trouble, often ending up in the "belly" of the very "beast" we're trying to avoid.

We pray for a bail-out, thrilled when it comes, mostly because we didn't have to work for it! However, when the time comes to stand on our own two feet we complain bitterly that there's nothing left to lean on, even though there was no attempt on our part to nurture the longevity of the situation.

We then continue avoiding the Lord's leading & alloting more value to the things around us, rather than the people starving for the Lord's word & salvation we're meant to be a blessing to. Reply

Nada Littleton, nc usa January 27, 2008

Jonah is like the castor oil plant; he was "raised up" to protect Ninevah but tried to wither and not do what he was appointed to do. The castor oil plant withered causing Jonah to suffer, which was what he preferred for Ninevah rather than be proven wrong. Reply

Anonymous boston, ma September 23, 2007

the point of the story I think the point of the story is to show, that Jonah was "running" from God and what God had asked Jonah to do (self will vs. God's will.) There was a consequence for trying to "sail away" -- the storm. Jonah was thrown overboard to stop the consequence that affected his shipmates. When swallowed by a fish, he had time to reflect on his wrongs... he prayed to God, asked for forgiveness and was set free after he repented.
It's a metaphor for life's struggles... Reply

matt January 10, 2007

the point Repentance and teshuva. Reply

Anonymous pj, ny October 2, 2006

what is the point of the story? I do not understand the point or meaning of this story??

Can anyone put it simply for me to undestand?

Thank you Reply

Related Topics