Jonah 2:10

The LORD commands the fish to bring Jonah to shore and deposit him safely there.

Jonah disobeyed the LORD’s command to go to Nineveh and took a ship to Tarshish, in the opposite direction from Nineveh. The LORD frustrated Jonah’s plan by sending a great storm on the sea. When the sailors cast lots to determine the guilty party, the lot fell on Jonah. He asked them to throw him into the sea so that the sea may calm down. The sailors tried their best to return to dry land without having to toss Jonah overboard, but could not because the sea became increasingly stormy. Finally, they cast Jonah overboard, and the sea stopped raging.

The prophet Jonah experienced great distress in the sea and was about to die by drowning. He felt that he was in a watery prison because he could not save his life. But when he cried out to the LORD, he found relief and deliverance. The LORD commissioned a great fish to swallow Jonah to preserve him from drowning. Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. Afterward, the LORD commanded the fish to deposit Jonah onto the dry land.

The verb for command here is “amar” in the Hebrew language. It means to say or to speak to someone. It denotes communication between two entities. In this instance, one person speaks and expects the other one to hear, understand, and reply. Here in the book of Jonah, the LORD addressed the fish as if it were a human being. He commanded the fish to get Jonah to shore and deposit him safely there. The fish obeyed the voice of the LORD: It vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

The verb vomit means “to spew out”. Vomiting is often a gesture of disgust, as when the LORD promised to reject the Israelites if they defiled the land with their sins (Leviticus 18:28; 20:22). The use of the term here likely suggests that the LORD caused Jonah to be disgusting to the fish. As a result, the fish spewed him out.

The actions of the fish demonstrate that the LORD has complete control over His creation. In the previous chapter, the LORD “appointed” the fish to “swallow Jonah” (1:17). The fish obeyed the LORD’s voice and swallowed the prophet to save him from death. Now the LORD commanded the fish to return Jonah safely to dry land. The fish obeyed the LORD and vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

Biblical Text:

10 Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

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