Jonah 1:9
And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
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(9) And he said . . .—“The emergency recalls Jonah to his true self. All the better part of his character now comes out. His conduct throughout the remainder of the chapter is dignified and manly, worthy of a servant and prophet of Jehovah” (Perowne).

I am a Hebrew.—The original order is more striking, A Hebrew I. The LXX. read, “a servant of the Lord.”

Which hath made . . .—These words mark the great change that has already come upon the prophet. He feels now how futile it was to try to hide or fly from the Creator of all the universe. But he speaks also for the sake of the crew, who, though recognising the existence of Jehovah as the tribal God of Israel, had never realised His relation to themselves as Creator of the world in which they lived, and of the sea on which they sailed. The storm preached the omnipotence of God.

Jonah 1:9-10. And he said, I am a Hebrew — One descended from Heber, whose offspring by Abraham are well known. And I fear the Lord — Or rather JEHOVAH, the God of heaven, Jehovah being the peculiar name of the true God, by which he was distinguished from those who had the name of gods and lords among the heathen. Which hath made the sea and the dry land — These words, as Mr. Locke observes, are a further distinction between the true God and the gods of the heathen; as if he had said, I worship and serve the one living and true God; that eternal and almighty Being, who made and ruleth the heavens and the earth, and all creatures therein. Then were the men exceedingly afraid — And with good reason, for they perceived that God was against them, even the God that made the world and governs all things, and that this tempest proceeded from his offended justice. Hence they inferred that their case was perilous in the extreme. And having learned from Jonah that he had disobeyed this Almighty God, and fled from his presence, they said unto him, Why hast thou done this? — How couldst thou dare to behave in such a manner, or disobey his commands, whom thou acknowledgest to be so great and powerful a Being, and Lord of all?

1:8-12 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.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 Dan 2:18 and by Nehemiah Neh 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."

9. I am an Hebrew—He does not say "an Israelite." For this was the name used among themselves; "Hebrew," among foreigners (Ge 40:15; Ex 3:18).

I fear the Lord—in profession: his practice belied his profession: his profession aggravated his guilt.

God … which … made the sea—appropriately expressed, as accounting for the tempest sent on the sea. The heathen had distinct gods for the "heaven," the "sea," and the "land." Jehovah is the one and only true God of all alike. Jonah at last is awakened by the violent remedy from his lethargy. Jonah was but the reflection of Israel's backsliding from God, and so must bear the righteous punishment. The guilt of the minister is the result of that of the people, as in Moses' case (De 4:21). This is what makes Jonah a suitable type of Messiah, who bore the imputed sin of the people.

And he said unto them; Jonah freely and readily gives account of himself.

I am a Hebrew; one that am descended from Heber, whose offspring by Abraham are well known, and probably to these mariners: he saith not, a Jew, because he was not in strictness of speech, for he was of the tribe of Zebulun; nor an Israelite, distinguished from the Jew, lest he should seem to own himself of that idolatrous faction.

I fear; I worship and serve the true God only; or possibly it may imply that his employment was in the immediate. service of God, as a religious person that had abdicated the world, and dedicated himself to God.

The Lord; the eternal and almighty God; yours are upstart gods, and have no power or might, nor can they do any thing.

The God of heaven; who first made, now ruleth, and ever will rule the heavens, which none of your gods can pretend to, those heavens from whence you see this storm falleth.

Which hath made the sea; that sea which now threatens you for my sake, and threatens me for my sin; my God hath raised the sea in his quarrel to contend thus furiously, and he can, and none but he can, command it to be still. And the dry land; a description of the earth: you would get thither, but all your gods cannot bring you thither, or give you to set one foot upon it, if my God say no. This is the sum of what Jonah declares, by which he intimateth his innocency from any flagitious crime, as they might imagine him guilty, and yet confesseth the greatness of his sin, which he had before told them, though they understood it not, or thought light of it, he fled from the presence of the Lord.

And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew,.... He does not say a Jew, as the Targum wrongly renders it; for that would have been false, since he was of the tribe of Zebulun, which was in the kingdom of Israel, and not of Judah; nor does he say an Israelite, lest he should be thought to be in the idolatry of that people; but a Hebrew, which was common to both; and, besides, it not only declared what nation he was of, but what religion he professed, and who was his God:

and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land; this answers to the other question, what was his occupation or business? he was one that feared the Lord, that served and worshipped him; a prophet of the great God, as Josephus (g) expresses and so Kimchi; the mighty Jehovah, that made the "heavens", and dwells in them; and from whence that storm of wind came, which had so much distressed the ship, and still continued: and who made the "sea", which was now so boisterous and raging, and threatened them with ruin; and "the dry land", where they would be glad to have been at that instant. By this description of God, as the prophet designed to set him forth in his nature and works, so to distinguish him from the gods of Heathens, who had only particular parts of the universe assigned to them, when his Jehovah was Lord of all; but where was the prophet's fear and reverence of God when he fled from him, and disobeyed him? it was not lost, though not in exercise.

(g) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 10. sect. 2.

And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
9. The emergency recalls Jonah to his true self. All the better part of his character now comes out. His conduct throughout the remainder of the chapter is dignified and manly, worthy of a servant and prophet of Jehovah.

a Hebrew] This is the name by which the Jews were known to foreigners (comp. the use of it by Juvenal and other classical writers). It is quite in keeping with Biblical usage that Jonah employs it in describing himself to the heathen sailors. Had he been addressing one of his own countrymen, he would have spoken of himself as an Israelite.

I fear the Lord] Rather, I fear Jehovah. They knew already (Jonah 1:10) that he was a worshipper of Jehovah, and that he had offended Him, and was fleeing from His presence. But hitherto they had only looked upon Jehovah as a god, one of many, with whom they had no concern. Comp. Pharaoh’s contemptuous question, “Who is Jehovah, that I should obey his voice, to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2. Now, however, when Jonah added that Jehovah was the God of heaven, who had made the sea and the dry land, while the tempest raged still to confirm his words, “The men were exceedingly afraid.”

Verse 9. I am an Hebrew. This is the name used by foreigners in speaking of Israelites, or by Israelites in speaking of themselves to Gentiles (see Genesis 14:13; Genesis 39:14; Genesis 41:12; Exodus 1:16; 1 Samuel 4:6, for the former use; and for the latter, Genesis 40:15; Exodus 2:7; Exodus 3:18). Convinced that God had miraculously pointed him out as the culprit on whose account the storm was sent, and goaded by the stings of conscience, Jonah loses all his previous indecision and spiritual stupor, and in a manly and straightforward way confesses the truth without disguise. The LXX., reading differently, renders, Δοῦλος Κυρίου εἰμὶ ἐγώ, "A servant of Jehovah am I." This makes a tautological statement with the next words, and leaves one of the sailors' questions unanswered. I fear the Lord. I worship, reverence (σέβομαι, Septuagint) Jehovah, who is not a local deity like the false gods whom you adore, but the Creator of heaven and earth, the Maker and Ruler of sea and dry land. So Abraham calls the Lord the God of heaven (Genesis 24:7), and Daniel (Daniel 2:37, 44) uses the same expression (comp. Psalm 96:5; Jeremiah 10:11). Jonah 1:9Jonah begins by answering the last question, saying that he was "a Hebrew," - the name by which the Israelites designated themselves in contradistinction to other nations, and by which other nations designated them (see at Genesis 14:13, and my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, 9, Anm. 2) - and that he worshipped "the God of heaven, who created the sea and the dry" (i.e., the land). ירא has been rendered correctly by the lxx σέβομαι, colo, revereor; and does not mean, "I am afraid of Jehovah, against whom I have sinned" (Abarbanel). By the statement, "I fear," etc., he had no intention of describing himself as a righteous or innocent man (Hitzig), but simply meant to indicate his relation to God - namely, that he adored the living God who created the whole earth and, as Creator, governed the world. For he admits directly after, that he has sinned against this God, by telling them, as we may see from Jonah 1:10, of his flight from Jehovah. He had not told them this as soon as he embarked in the ship, as Hitzig supposes, but does so now for the first time when they ask about his people, his country, etc., as we may see most unmistakeably from Jonah 1:10. In Jonah 1:9 Jonah's statement is not given completely; but the principal fact, viz., that he was a Hebrew and worshipped Jehovah, is followed immediately by the account of the impression which this acknowledgement made upon the heathen sailors; and the confession of his sin is mentioned afterwards as a supplement, to assign the reason for the great fear which came upon the sailors in consequence. מה־זּאת עשׂית, What hast thou done! is not a question as to the nature of his sin, but an exclamation of horror at his flight from Jehovah, the God heaven and earth, as the following explanatory clauses כּי ידעוּ וגו clearly show. The great fear which came upon the heathen seamen at this confession of Jonah may be fully explained from the dangerous situation in which they found themselves, since the storm preached the omnipotence of God more powerfully than words could possibly do.
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