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Jonah 2:2

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 

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.



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