A story considered by some to be fiction. This commentary holds that it, instead, shows the providence of a loving God. You may wish to begin in chapter 1 and just read the story.

 1  Jonah runs away and is swallowed by a fish
 2   Prayer of thanksgiving
 3   Jonah preaches; people of Nineveh repent
 Jonah is angry with God
 Notes: Christ's in the heart of the earth
 Commentary home
Next book (Micah)
Reasons to trust the book of Jonah
 - It contains verifyable geographical and historical data.
 - Jonah said that "the word of the Lord" came to him.
 - Miracles are also seen in many other credible Bible books.
 - The book was placed among other prophetic books.
 - God does not act like a contemporary pagan deity.
 - He does not require mindless obedience.
 - Jonah is not what we expect for a writer of Jewish fiction.
The time of Jonah
Jonah is usually dated by conservatives in the time of Jeroboam II (ca. 793-753 B.C.; cf. 2 Kings 14:25 for this linkage).  The Assyrian king Adad-nirari III (810-782 BC) gives evidence of a monotheistic religious revolution at this time (see SDA BC 4:996).  

It is true that the cruel Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (859-824 BC) did come into contact with Israel’s rulers during the previous century, fighting King Ahab in 853 BC at the Battle of Qarqar, and receiving tribute from king Jehu  12 years later (see SDABD 93).  King Adad-nirari III also is said to have received tribute from King Joash of Israel, but Assyria was relatively weak at this time, and during the period of Jonah’s ministry, Israelite king Jeroboam II restored the territories in Israel that had been lost in the previous centuries. 

So, yes, Jonah in the early 8th century BC could have had some first-hand knowledge of the cruel practices and military incursions of Assyria (of the previous century), although the actual conquering of Israel did not take place till the time of Tiglath-pileser (745-727 BC) and culminated in the sack of Samaria in 722 B.C.   Of course, Assyria itself was destroyed (its city of Asshur in 6 14 BC and Nineveh its capitol in 612 BC), and this is described in the book of Nahum.

From Richard M. Davidson, Ph.D.
Adventist seminary OT chairperson