Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
Read Chapter 1
Cyril of Alexandria
The Divinely inspired Jonah was the son of Amittai, and came from Gath-hepher, a little city or town of the land of the Jews, so the story goes.
You could find Jonah uttering a great number of oracles to the Jewish people, transmitting the words from God on high and clearly foretelling the future. Though no other prophetic text from him is extant than this one, though, the divinely inspired Scripture confirms that he continued predicting to the Jewish masses what would happen in the future times.
Jonah knew better than anyone the purpose of his message to the Ninevites and that, in planning his flight, although he changed his location, he did not escape from God. Nor is this possible for anyone else, either by concealing himself in the bosom of the earth, or in the depths of the sea, or by soaring on wings, if there be any means of doing so, and rising into the air, or by abiding in the lowest depths of hell, or by any other of the many devices for ensuring escape. For God alone of all things cannot be escaped from or contended with. If he wills to seize and bring them under his hand, he outstrips the swift. He outwits the wise. He overthrows the strong. He cuts down the lofty. He subdues rashness. He resists power.
What then is the story, and wherein lies its application? For, perhaps, it would not be amiss to relate it, for its general validation. Jonah also was fleeing from the face of God, or rather, thought that he was fleeing. But he was overtaken by the sea, and the storm, and the lot, and the whale’s belly, and the three days’ entombment. All this is a type of a greater mystery. He fled from having to announce the dread of the awful message to the Ninevites and from being subsequently, if the city was saved by repentance, convicted of falsehood. It was not that he was displeased at the salvation of the wicked, but he was ashamed of being made an instrument of falsehood and exceedingly zealous for the credit of prophecy, which was in danger of being destroyed in his own person. Indeed most would be unable to penetrate the depth of the divine dispensation in such cases.
But there Jonah calls upon God, and marvelous as it is, on the third day, he, like Christ, is delivered…. In my own case, what could be said? What defense could be made if I remained unsettled and rejected the yoke of ministry, which, though I know not whether to call it light or heavy, had at any rate been laid upon me…. On this account I had much toilsome consideration to discover my duty, being set in the middle between two fears, of which the one held me back and the other urged me on. For a long while I was at a loss between them. After wavering from side to side, and, like a current driven by inconstant winds, inclining first in this direction then in that, I at last yielded to the stronger. The fear of disobedience overcame me. In Defense of His Flight to Pontus, Oration
The Hebrews say that Jonah was the son of a widow in Zarephath; Elijah raised him from the dead, and when he had been returned to his mother, she gave thanks, and said, "Now by this I know that you are a man of the Lord, and the word of the Lord in your mouth is true." (1Kings 17:24)
HAIMO They say that Jonah's grave is in Geth, which is in Ophir. Others speak of his birth and burial in Lydda, that is, Diospolis.
About three years have now passed since I first started writing the commentaries on the five Prophets, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Haggai. Detained by another work, I was not able to finish what I had undertaken. For I was writing a book on famous men and two volumes against Jovinian, an apology and an essay on 'the best way to translate', which was addressed to Pammachius, two books to or about Nepotian, and other works which it would be lengthy to recount. Therefore I retake up my commentaries with Jonah after such a long absence. Jonah, a type of Saviour, who prefiguring the resurrection of the Lord by spending "three days and three nights in the belly of a whale", was able to attain the first ardour so that we might deserve the arrival of the Holy Spirit to us. If indeed Jonah is to be translated as 'dove', and if the dove can be seen as the Holy Spirit, then we can also interpret the Dove as signifying the dove's entrance into us. I know that some classical authors, bot...
The Hebrew tradition is that Hosea, Amos, Isaiah and Jonah prophesied at the same time. This is historical tradition.
he book of Tobit, though not in the canon of the Hebrews, is surely used by the men of the Church, and he mentions Jonah when Tobit says to his son, "my son, I am old and ready to leave this life. Take your sons and go to Media, my son. For I know what the prophet Jonah has said about Nineveh: she will be destroyed"(Tob. 14, 3.).
The prophet knows, the Holy Spirit teaching him, that the repentance of the Gentiles is the ruin of the Jews. A lover, then, of his country, he does not so much envy the deliverance of Nineveh as will that his own country should not perish. Seeing too that his fellow prophets are sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel to excite the people to repentance, and that Balaam the soothsayer too prophesied the salvation of Israel, he grieves that he alone is chosen to be sent to the Assyrians, the enemies of Israel, and to that greatest city of the enemies where there was idolatry and ignorance of God. Even more, he feared that Israel might be wholly forsaken due to the conversion of the Ninevites through repentance by his preaching. For he knew by the same Spirit whereby the preaching to the Gentiles was trusted to him that the house of Israel would then perish, and he feared that what was at one time to be would take place in his own time. :.
The history of Jonah contains a great mystery. For it seems that the whale signifies Time, which never stands still, but is always going on, and consumes the things which are made by long and shorter intervals. But Jonah, who fled from the presence of God, is himself the first man who, having transgressed the law, fled from being seen naked of immortality, having lost through sin his confidence in the Deity. And the ship in which he embarked, and which was tempest-tossed, is this brief and hard life in the present time; just as though we had turned and removed from that blessed and secure life, to that which was most tempestuous and unstable, as from solid land to a ship. For what a ship is to the land, that our present life is to that which is immortal. And the storm and the tempests which beat against us are the temptations of this life, which in the world, as in a tempestuous sea, do not permit us to have a fair voyage free from pain, in a calm sea, and one which is free from evils....
In trying to run away from the Lord, you show up the fickleness of all who plan flight. A certain headstrong prophet also had run away from the Lord, crossing the sea from Joppa to Tarsus, as if he could escape from God. But God found him not on land or on sea but in the belly of a beast, where for three days he could not die or even in that way escape from the eyes of God. Is that man not better off who, though he fears the enemy of God, does not flee from but despises him? Who trusts in the protection of God or, if you will, has an even greater fear of God, having stood the longer in his eyes? He says, “He is the Lord, he is mighty, all things are his, and wherever I shall be I am in his hands. Let him do what he will, I shall not run away. If he wishes me to die, let him destroy me, as long as I faithfully serve him. Much would I rather bring odium on him, by dying according to his will, than to live by my own cowardice.”