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Jonah 1:9-10

Context
1:9 He said to them, “I am a Hebrew! And I worship 1  the Lord, 2  the God of heaven, 3  who made the sea and the dry land.” 1:10 Hearing this, 4  the men became even more afraid 5  and said to him, “What have you done?” (The men said this because they knew that he was trying to escape 6  from the Lord, 7  because he had previously told them. 8 )

1 tn Or “fear.” The verb יָרֵא (yare’) has a broad range of meanings, including “to fear, to worship, to revere, to respect” (BDB 431 s.v.). When God is the object, it normally means “to fear” (leading to obedience; BDB 431 s.v. 1) or “to worship” (= to stand in awe of; BDB 431 s.v. 2). Because the fear of God leads to wisdom and obedience, that is probably not the sense here. Instead Jonah professes to be a loyal Yahwist – in contrast to the pagan Phoenician sailors who worshiped false gods, he worshiped the one true God. Unfortunately his worship of the Lord lacked the necessary moral prerequisite.

2 tn Heb “The Lord, the God of heaven, I fear.” The Hebrew word order is unusual. Normally the verb appears first, but here the direct object “the Lord, the God of heaven” precedes the verb. Jonah emphasizes the object of his worship. In contrast to the Phoenician sailors who worship pagan polytheistic gods, Jonah took pride in his theological orthodoxy. Ironically, his “fear” of the Lord in this case was limited to this profession of theological orthodoxy because his actions betrayed his refusal to truly “fear” God by obeying him.

sn The word fear appears in v. 5, here in v. 9, and later in vv. 10 and 16. Except for this use in v. 9, every other use describes the sailors’ response (emotional fear prompting physical actions) to the storm or to the Lord. By contrast, Jonah claims to fear God but his attitude and actions do not reflect this. It is clear that Jonah does not “fear” in the same way that they do.

3 tn Heb “the God of the heavens.” The noun שָׁמַיִם (shamayim, “heavens”) always appears in the dual form. Although the dual form sometimes refers to things that exist in pairs, the dual is often used to refer to geographical locations, e.g., יְרוּשָׁלַיִם (yÿrushalayim, “Jerusalem”), אֶפְרַיִם (’efrayim, “Ephraim”), and מִצְרַיִם (mitsrayim, “Egypt,” but see IBHS 118 §7.3d). The dual form of שָׁמַיִם does not refer to two different kinds of heavens or to two levels of heaven; it simply refers to “heaven” as a location – the dwelling place of God. Jonah’s point is that he worships the High God of heaven – the one enthroned over all creation.

4 tn Heb “Then the men feared…” The vav-consecutive describes the consequence of Jonah’s statement. The phrase “Hearing this” does not appear in the Hebrew text but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity.

5 tn Heb “The men feared a great fear.” The cognate accusative construction using the verb יָרֵא (yare’, “to fear”) and the noun יִרְאָה (yirah, “fear”) from the same root (ירא, yr’) emphasizes the sailors’ escalating fright: “they became very afraid” (see IBHS 167 §10.2.1g).

6 tn Heb “fleeing.”

7 sn The first two times that Jonah is said to be running away from the Lord (1:3), Hebrew word order puts this phrase last. Now in the third occurrence (1:10), it comes emphatically before the verb that describes Jonah’s action. The sailors were even more afraid once they had heard who it was that Jonah had offended.

8 tn Heb “because he had told them.” The verb הִגִּיד (higgid, “he had told”) functions as a past perfect, referring to a previous event.



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