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The Book of Jonah

This paper is an examination of the book of Jonah, which is part of the last books of the Old Testament that are known collectively as the Twelve. These are the writings of the so-called minor prophets, and scholars have long debated the reasons for grouping them in the order in which they appear. Jonah is a concise accounting of a prophet who tries to disobey God's command to warn the people of the non-Hebrew city of Nineveh of their impending destruction. The book appears between the accounts of Obadiah and Micah, and this placement has been chosen primarily for literary reasons. In its present place, Jonah's curious little tale stands as part of a larger story, warning the people of Israel of their obligations to the world as a whole. Although written at different points in history by different authors using different styles, these three books create an interesting literary trilogy that continues to fascinate scholars and readers alike.

Jonah is a deceptively simple book. Composed of just four chapters, it begins immediately with God's command to the title character, "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me" (Jon. 1:2). The outline of the four chapters shows the book's structure:

I. Jonah tries to run away from God's command

A. God commands him to go to Nineveh

B. Jonah boards a boat for Tarshish

C. God creates a huge storm at sea

D. The men on the boat accuse him of causing the storm

E. He tells them to throw him overboard; they do

F. God has him swallowed by a great fish

II. Inside the fish, Jonah prays to God

A. He recounts the troubles that led him here

C. God commands the fish to deliver him to land

III. Jonah agrees to go to Nineveh

A. He enjoins the city to repent its evil

A. Jonah tells God of his anger about Nineveh

B. God provides him with shelter, then takes it away


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The Book of Jonah. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:25, October 15, 2019, from