God Calls and Jonah Runs

The Lord spoke to Jonah[a] son of Amittai: “Nineveh[b] is a big city. I have heard about the many evil things the people are doing there. So go there and tell them to stop doing such evil things.”

But Jonah tried to run away from the Lord. He went to Joppa[c] and found a boat that was going to the faraway city of Tarshish. Jonah paid money for the trip and went on the boat. He wanted to travel with the people on this boat to Tarshish and run away from the Lord.

The Great Storm

But the Lord brought a great storm on the sea. The wind made the sea very rough. The storm was very strong, and the boat was ready to break apart. The men wanted to make the boat lighter to stop it from sinking, so they began throwing the cargo[d] into the sea. The sailors were very afraid. Each man began praying to his god.

Jonah had gone down into the boat to lie down, and he went to sleep. The captain of the boat saw Jonah and said, “Wake up! Why are you sleeping? Pray to your god! Maybe your god will hear your prayer and save us!”

What Caused This Storm?

Then the men said to each other, “We should throw lots to find out why this is happening to us.”

So the men threw lots. The lots showed that the troubles came to them because of Jonah. Then the men said to Jonah, “It is your fault that this terrible thing is happening to us. Tell us, what have you done? What is your job? Where do you come from? What is your country? Who are your people?”

Jonah said to them, “I am a Hebrew. I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the land and the sea.”

10 Jonah told the men he was running away from the Lord. The men became very afraid when they learned this. They asked Jonah, “What terrible thing did you do against your God?”

11 The wind and the waves of the sea were becoming stronger and stronger. So the men said to Jonah, “What should we do to save ourselves? What should we do to you to make the sea calm?”

12 Jonah said to the men, “I know I did wrong—that is why the storm came on the sea. So throw me into the sea, and the sea will become calm.”

13 Instead, the men tried to row the ship back to the shore, but they couldn’t do it. The wind and the waves of the sea were too strong—and they were becoming stronger and stronger.

Jonah’s Punishment

14 So the men cried to the Lord, “Lord, please don’t say we are guilty of killing an innocent man. Please don’t make us die for killing him. We know you are the Lord, and you will do whatever you want.”

15 So the men threw Jonah into the sea. The storm stopped, and the sea became calm. 16 When the men saw this, they began to fear and respect the Lord. They offered a sacrifice and made special promises to the Lord.

17 When Jonah fell into the sea, the Lord chose a very big fish to swallow Jonah. He was in the stomach of the fish for three days and three nights.


  1. Jonah 1:1 Jonah This is probably the same prophet mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25.
  2. Jonah 1:2 Nineveh The capital city of the country of Assyria. Assyria destroyed Israel in 722–721 B.C.
  3. Jonah 1:3 Joppa A town on the coast of Israel by the Mediterranean Sea.
  4. Jonah 1:5 cargo The Hebrew word can mean “dishes,” “jars,” or “tools.” Here, this could mean all the jars and boxes the boat carried on its way to Tarshish or the rigging and other heavy tools on the boat.