Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Jonah 1:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I fear the Lord - In this Jonah was faithful. He gave an honest testimony concerning the God he served, which placed him before the eyes of the sailors as infinitely higher than the objects of their adoration; for the God of Jonah was the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land, and governed both. He also honestly told them that he was fleeing from the presence of this God, whose honorable call he had refused to obey. See Jonah 1:10.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

I am an Hebrew - This was the name by which Israel was known to foreigners. It is used in the Old Testament, only when they are spoken of by foreigners, or speak of themselves to foreigners, or when the sacred writers mention them in contrast with foreigners. So Joseph spoke of his land Genesis 40:15, and the Hebrew midwives Exodus 1:19, and Moses‘ sister Exodus 2:7, and God in His commission to Moses Exodus 3:18; Exodus 7:16; Exodus 9:1 as to Pharaoh, and Moses in fulfilling it Exodus 5:3. They had the name, as having passed the River Euphrates, “emigrants.” The title might serve to remind themselves, that they were “strangers” and “pilgrims,” Hebrews 11:13. whose fathers had left their home at God‘s command and for God, “passers by, through this world to death, and through death to immortality.”

And I fear the Lord - , i. e., I am a worshiper of Him, most commonly, one who habitually stands in awe of Him, and so one who stands in awe of sin too. For none really fear God, none fear Him as sons, who do not fear Him in act. To be afraid of God is not to fear Him. To be afraid of God keeps men away from God; to fear God draws them to Him. Here, however, Jonah probably meant to tell them, that the Object of his fear and worship was the One Self-existing God, He who alone is, who made all things, in whose hands are all things. He had told them before, that he had fled “from being before Yahweh.” They had not thought anything of this, for they thought of Yahweh, only as the God of the Jews. Now he adds, that He, Whose service he had thus forsaken, was “the God of heaven, Who made the sea and dry land,” that sea, whose raging terrified them and threatened their lives. The title, “the God of heaven,” asserts the doctrine of the creation of the heavens by God, and His supremacy.

Hence, Abraham uses it to his servant Genesis 24:7, and Jonah to the pagan mariners, and Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar Daniel 2:37, Daniel 2:44; and Cyrus in acknowledging God in his proclamation 2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2. After his example, it is used in the decrees of Darius Ezra 6:9-10 and Artaxerxes Ezra 7:12, Ezra 7:21, Ezra 7:23, and the returned exiles use it in giving account of their building the temple to the Governor Ezra 5:11-12. Perhaps, from the habit of contact with the pagan, it is used once by Daniel Daniel 2:18 and by Nehemiah Nehemiah 1:4-5; Nehemiah 2:4, Nehemiah 2:20. Melchizedek, not perhaps being acquainted with the special name, Yahweh, blessed Abraham in the name of “God, the Possessor” or “Creator of heaven and earth” Genesis 14:19, i. e., of all that is. Jonah, by using it, at once taught the sailors that there is One Lord of all, and why this evil had fallen on them, because they had himself with them, the renegade servant of God. “When Jonah said this, he indeed feared God and repented of his sin. If he lost filial fear by fleeing and disobeying, he recovered it by repentance.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Jonah gave an account of his religion, for that was his business. We may hope that he told with sorrow and shame, justifying God, condemning himself, and explaining to the mariners what a great God Jehovah is. They said to him, Why hast thou done this? If thou fearest the God that made the sea and the dry land, why wast thou such a fool as to think thou couldst flee from his presence? If the professors of religion do wrong, they will hear it from those who make no such profession. When sin has raised a storm, and laid us under the tokens of God's displeasure, we must consider what is to be done to the sin that raised the storm. Jonah uses the language of true penitents, who desire that none but themselves may fare the worse for their sins and follies. Jonah sees this to be the punishment of his iniquity, he accepts it, and justifies God in it. When conscience is awakened, and a storm raised, nothing will turn it into a calm but parting with the sin that caused the disturbance. Parting with our money will not pacify the conscience, the Jonah must be thrown overboard.