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I.

THE HISTORICAL JONAH AND THE STORIES

TOLD OF HIM.

THE Book of Jonah, the fifth of the twelve Minor Prophets, has always been an enigma to Biblical students, conservative and liberal alike. The trusting Christian, whose faith in the truth and infallibility of Scripture is absolute, passes over the book in silence, as if to question its historicity would be sacrilege. Other Christians, with more liberal views, believe that Jonah and his story are creations of legend; or, if Jonah was a historical character, the story related of him is but a nursery tale told by the mothers to the children of more than two millenniums ago.

Between these two extremes every shade of opinion has been expressed. The author, in a most earnest search for the truth, and with all reverence for the sanctity in which the book is held, would first ask what is known of Jonah as a historical personage, and what is told of him in the legends of early times. To refresh the reader's memory, the translation of the book as given in the Revised Version of the Bible is added here; the variants are in parentheses.

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“ Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying: Arise, go to Nineveh, that

great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is 3 come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto

Tarshish from the presence of the Lord ; and he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish : so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go

with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the 4 Lord. But the Lord sent out (hurled) a great wind

into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, 5 so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the

mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god; and they cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it unto them. But Jonah was gone

down into the innermost parts of the ship; and he lay, 6 and was fast asleep. So the ship-master came to him,

and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper?

Arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think 7 upon us, that we perish not. And they said every one

to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.

So they 8 cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. 13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to get them back to

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unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this

evil is upon us ; what is thine occupation ? and whence 9 comest thou? what is thy country? and of what peo

ple art thou? And he said unto them, I am an He

brew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which 10 hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the

men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, What is this that thou hast done? For the men knew that he had fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us ? for the sea grew more and more tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you; for I know

the land; but they could not; for the sea grew more 14 and more tempestuous against them. Wherefore they

cried unto the Lord and said, We beseech thee, Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's

life, and lay not upon us innocent blood : for thou, O 15 Lord, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up

Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea; and the sea 16 ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the Lord

exceedingly; and they offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, 17 and made vows. And the Lord prepared a great fish

to swallow up Jonah ; and Jonah was in the belly of II. the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah

prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly.

the seas,

2 And he said,
I called out by reason (out) of mine affliction unto

the Lord,
And He answered me;
Out of the belly of hell (Sheol) cried I,

And thou heardest my voice. 3 For thou didst cast me into the depth, in the heart of

And the flood was round about me;

All thy waves and thy billows passed over me. 4 And I said, I am cast out from before thine eyes ;

Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. 5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul;

The deep was round about me;

The weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains ;

The earth with her bars closed upon me for ever:

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