1:3 Instead, Jonah immediately 1 headed off to Tarshish 2 to escape 3 from the commission of the Lord. 4 He traveled 5 to Joppa 6 and found a merchant ship heading 7 to Tarshish. 8 So he paid the fare 9 and went aboard 10 it to go with them 11 to Tarshish 12 far away from the Lord. 13
1:9 He said to them, “I am a Hebrew! And I worship 14 the Lord, 15 the God of heaven, 16 who made the sea and the dry land.” 1:10 Hearing this, 17 the men became even more afraid 18 and said to him, “What have you done?” (The men said this because they knew that he was trying to escape 19 from the Lord, 20 because he had previously told them. 21 )
1 tn Heb “he arose to flee.” The phrase וַיָּקָם לִבְרֹחַ (vayyaqam livroakh, “he arose to flee”) is a wordplay on the
2 tn The place-name תַּרְשִׁישׁ (tarshish, “Tarshish”) refers to a distant port city or region (Isa 23:6; Jer 10:9; Ezek 27:12; 38:13; 2 Chr 9:21; 20:36, 37) located on the coastlands in the Mediterranean west of Palestine (Ps 72:10; Isa 23:6, 10; 66:19; Jonah 1:3; see BDB 1076 s.v. תַּרְשִׁישׁ; HALOT 1798 s.v. תַּרְשִׁישׁ E.a). Scholars have not established its actual location (HALOT 1797 s.v. B). It has been variously identified with Tartessos in southwest Spain (Herodotus, Histories 1.163; 4.152; cf. Gen 10:4), Carthage (LXX of Isa 23:1, 14 and Ezek 27:25), and Sardinia (F. M. Cross, “An Interpretation of the Nora Stone,” BASOR 208 : 13-19). The ancient versions handle it variously. The LXX identifies תַּרְשִׁישׁ with Carthage/Καρχηδών (karchdwn; Isa 23:1, 6, 10, 14; Ezek 27:12; 38:13). The place name תַּרְשִׁישׁ is rendered “Africa” in the Targums in some passages (Tg. 1 Kgs 10:22; 22:49; Tg. Jer 10:9) and elsewhere as “sea” (Isa 2:16; 23:1, 14; 50:9; 66:19; Ezek 27:12, 25; 38:13; Jonah 4:2). The Jewish Midrash Canticles Rabbah 5:14.2 cites Jonah 1:3 as support for the view that Tarshish = “the Great Sea” (the Mediterranean). It is possible that תַּרְשִׁישׁ does not refer to one specific port but is a general term for the distant Mediterranean coastlands (Ps 72:10; Isa 23:6, 10; 66:19). In some cases it seems to mean simply “the open sea”: (1) the Tg. Jonah 1:3 translates תַּרְשִׁישׁ as “[he arose to flee] to the sea”; (2) Jerome’s commentary on Isa 2:16 states that Hebrew scholars in his age defined תַּרְשִׁישׁ as “sea”; and (3) the gem called II תַּרְשִׁישׁ, “topaz” (BDB 1076 s.v.; HALOT 1798 s.v.) in Exod 28:20 and 39:13 is rendered “the color of the sea” in Tg. Onq. (see D. Stuart, Hosea-Jonah [WBC], 451). The designation אֳנִיּוֹת תַּרְשִׁישׁ (’oniyyot tarshish, “Tarshish-ships”) referred to large oceangoing vessels equipped for the high seas (2 Chr 9:21; Ps 48:8; Isa 2:16; 23:1, 14; 60:9; Ezek 27:25) or large merchant ships designed for international trade (1 Kgs 10:22; 22:49; 2 Chr 9:21; 20:36; Isa 23:10; HALOT 1798 s.v. E.b). The term תַּרְשִׁישׁ is derived from the Iberian tart[uli] with the Anatolian suffix –issos/essos, resulting in Tartessos (BRL2 332a); however, the etymological meaning of תַּרְשִׁישׁ is uncertain (see W. F. Albright, “New Light on the Early History of Phoenician Colonization,” BASOR 83 : 21-22 and note 29; HALOT 1797 s.v. I תַּרְשִׁישׁ A). The name תַּרְשִׁישׁ appears in sources outside the Hebrew Bible in Neo-Assyrian KURTar-si-si (R. Borger, Die Inschriften Asarhaddons [AfO], 86, §57 line 10) and Greek Ταρτησσος (tarthssos; HALOT 1797 s.v. C). Most English versions render תַּרְשִׁישׁ as “Tarshish” (KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NIV, NEB, NJB, JPS, NJPS), but TEV, CEV render it more generally as “to Spain.” NLT emphasizes the rhetorical point: “in the opposite direction,” though “Tarshish” is mentioned later in the verse.
3 tn Heb “Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish away from the
4 tn Heb “away from the presence of the
sn Three times in chap. 1 (in vv. 3 and 10) Jonah’s voyage is described as an attempt to escape away from the
5 tn Heb “he went down.” The verb יָרַד (yarad, “to go down”) can refer to a journey that is physically downhill. This suggests that Jonah had started out from Jerusalem, which is at a higher elevation. He probably received his commission in the temple (see 2:4, 7 for mention of the temple).
sn The verb יָרַד (yarad, “to go down”) is repeated four times in chs. 1-2 for rhetorical effect (1:3a, 3b, 5; 2:7). Jonah’s “downward” journey from Jerusalem down to Joppa (1:3a) down into the ship (1:3b) down into the cargo hold (1:5) and ultimately down into the bottom of the sea, pictured as down to the very gates of the netherworld (2:7), does not end until he turns back to God who brings him “up” from the brink of death (2:6-7).
6 sn Joppa was a small harbor town on the Palestinian coast known as Yepu in the Amarna Letters (14th century
7 tn Heb “going to” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); NIV “bound for”; NLT “leaving for.”
8 tn See note on the phrase “to Tarshish” at the beginning of the verse.
9 tn Heb “its fare.” The 3rd person feminine singular suffix on the noun probably functions as a genitive of worth or value: “the fare due it.” However, it is translated here simply as “the fare” for the sake of readability. On the other hand “bought a ticket” (CEV, NLT) is somewhat overtranslated, since the expression “paid the fare” is still understandable to most English readers.
11 tn “Them” refers to the other passengers and sailors in the ship.
12 tn See note on the phrase “to Tarshish” at the beginning of the verse.
14 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
15 tn Heb “The
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
16 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.
17 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.
18 tn Heb “The men feared a great fear.” The cognate accusative construction using the verb יָרֵא (yare’, “to fear”) and the noun יִרְאָה (yir’ah, “fear”) from the same root (ירא, yr’) emphasizes the sailors’ escalating fright: “they became very afraid” (see IBHS 167 §10.2.1g).
19 tn Heb “fleeing.”
20 sn The first two times that Jonah is said to be running away from the
21 tn Heb “because he had told them.” The verb הִגִּיד (higgid, “he had told”) functions as a past perfect, referring to a previous event.