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Jonah 1:15

Context
1:15 So they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped raging.

Jonah 2:2-3

Context
2:2 and said,

“I 1  called out to the Lord from my distress,

and he answered me; 2 

from the belly of Sheol 3  I cried out for help,

and you heard my prayer. 4 

2:3 You threw me 5  into the deep waters, 6 

into the middle 7  of the sea; 8 

the ocean current 9  engulfed 10  me;

all the mighty waves 11  you sent 12  swept 13  over me. 14 

1 sn The eight verses of Jonah’s prayer in Hebrew contain twenty-seven first-person pronominal references to himself. There are fifteen second- or third-person references to the Lord.

2 tn Tg. Jonah 2:2 renders this interpretively: “and he heard my prayer.”

sn The first verse of the prayer summarizes the whole – “I was in trouble; I called to the Lord for help; he rescued me; I will give him thanks” – before elaborating on the nature and extent of the trouble (vv. 3-7a), mentioning the cry for help and the subsequent rescue (6b-7), and promising to give thanks (8-9). These elements, as well as much vocabulary and imagery found in Jonah’s prayer, appear also in other Hebrew psalms. With Jonah 2:1 compare, for example, Pss 18:6; 22:24; 81:7; 116:1-4; 120:1; 130:1-2; Lam 3:55-56. These references and others indicate that Jonah was familiar with prayers used in worship at the temple in Jerusalem; he knew “all the right words.” Consider also Ps 107 with Jonah as a whole.

3 sn Sheol was a name for the place of residence of the dead, the underworld (see Job 7:9-10; Isa 38:17-18). Jonah pictures himself in the belly of Sheol, its very center – in other words he is as good as dead.

4 tn Heb “voice” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); NIV “my cry.” The term קוֹל (qol, “voice”) functions as a metonymy for the content of what is uttered: cry for help in prayer.

5 tn Or “You had thrown me.” Verse 3 begins the detailed description of Jonah’s plight, which resulted from being thrown into the sea.

6 tn Heb “the deep” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NLT “into the ocean depths.”

7 tn Heb “heart” (so many English versions); CEV “to the (+ very TEV) bottom of the sea.”

8 tc The BHS editors suggest deleting either מְצוּלָה (mÿtsulah, “into the deep”) or בִּלְבַב יַמִּים (bilvav yammim, “into the heart of the sea”). They propose that one or the other is a scribal gloss on the remaining term. However, the use of an appositional phrase within a poetic colon is not unprecedented in Hebrew poetry. The MT is therefore best retained.

9 tn Or “the stream”; KJV, ASV, NRSV “the flood.” The Hebrew word נָהָר (nahar) is used in parallel with יַם (yam, “sea”) in Ps 24:2 (both are plural) to describe the oceans of the world and in Ps 66:6 to speak of the sea crossed by Israel in the exodus from Egypt.

10 tn Heb “surrounded” (so NRSV); NAB “enveloped.”

11 tn Heb “your breakers and your waves.” This phrase is a nominal hendiadys; the first noun functions as an attributive adjective modifying the second noun: “your breaking waves.”

12 tn Heb “your… your…” The 2nd person masculine singular suffixes on מִשְׁבָּרֶיךָ וְגַלֶּיךָ (mishbarekha vÿgallekha, “your breakers and your waves”) function as genitives of source. Just as God had hurled a violent wind upon the sea (1:4) and had sovereignly sent the large fish to swallow him (1:17 [2:1 HT]), Jonah viewed God as sovereignly responsible for afflicting him with sea waves that were crashing upon his head, threatening to drown him. Tg. Jonah 2:3 alters the 2nd person masculine singular suffixes to 3rd person masculine singular suffixes to make them refer to the sea and not to God, for the sake of smoothness: “all the gales of the sea and its billows.”

13 tn Heb “crossed”; KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV “passed.”

14 sn Verses 3 and 5 multiply terms describing Jonah’s watery plight. The images used in v. 3 appear also in 2 Sam 22:5-6; Pss 42:7; 51:11; 69:1-2, 14-15; 88:6-7; 102:10.



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