Jonah 1:2 and 3:2

וּקְרָ֣א עָלֶ֑יהָ כִּֽי־עָלְתָ֥ה רָעָתָ֖ם לְפָנָֽי׃

וִּקְרָ֤א אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ אֶת־הַקְּרִיאָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י דֹּבֵ֥ר אֵלֶֽיךָ׃

There is a difference in preposition between these two verses. 1:2 uses the preposition עַל whereas 3:2 uses אֶל. Scholars differ about the significance.

In 1:2 we are told the reason for the message – it is because Nineveh’s sin has come up before God, and therefore God’s message is against that sin. (I’m taking the כִי clause as the cause of Jonah’s message (‘because…’) rather than the content of it (‘that…’).)

Whereas in 3:2 there is a parallel going on which isn’t present in 1:2. Jonah is to קרא the message אֶל the Ninevites which God spoke אֶל him. Jonah is simply called to pass on the message which he has received. He is God’s prophet – God’s mouth piece.

Although these two verses/sections are clearly parallel, I think they are telling us different things. 1:2 is telling us the reason for the message; 3:2 is telling us (and Jonah) the source of the message.

1:2 tells us the content of the message; 3:2 tells us the source.

So no wonder different prepositions are used.


Jonah Summary Notes Chapter 2

  1. God appoints a fish to deliver Jonah (deliverance not judgement). Commentators differ over exact significance of time frame. Most neglect wider biblical understanding and links with Jesus, his resurrection and words in Matt 12.
  2. Introduces remainder of ch2 as Jonah’s prayer to YHWH – a ‘thanksgiving psalm’ according to Gunkel.
  3. YHWH heard Jonah’s cry for help.
  4. Jonah describes the nature of his distress.
  5. Jonah’s hope in YHWH that he will be rescued. Theodotion’s Gk version reads πως presumably translating אֵיךְ rather than אַךְ. LXX has άρα.
  6. Jonah is drowning
  7. Jonah is facing death, but YHWH brought his life up from the pit.
  8. Jonah remembered YHWH; YHWH heard Jonah
  9. It is useless serving any god except YHWH.
  10. Jonah sacrifices to YHWH and promises to complete vows (cf. sacrifices and vowes of sailors in 1:16). Salvation belongs to YHWH.
  11. Jonah is vomitted onto dry land (ready to be recommissioned).

Jonah Summary Notes Chapter 1

  1. main characters introduced. Jonah identified with Jonah in 2 Kings 14:25.
  2. Nineveh introduced as העיר הגדולה. Disagreement about size or importance. Final כי clause: “that” or “because”? Content or reason? Varying nuances of רעה.
  3. Jonah as anti-prophet. repetition of מלפני יהוה.
  4. God’s sovereignty, introduction (1 of 4) to טול. Judgement on Jonah’s action.
  5. Contrast actions of sailors (trying to save, praying) and Jonah’s inactivity (sleeping). Similarity of the call of the sailor and YHWH in v2 (“arise…call out”).
  6. Captains requests of Jonah – that he call out to his god.
  7. Superstition of sailors – determined to find out the cause of the storm. God’s sovereignty demonstrated that the lot fell on Jonah.
  8. Sailors question Jonah.
  9. Jonah only answers their final question (ואי־מזה עם אתה). YHWH fronted in Jonah’s answer. YHWH is not a local deity he is אלהים השׁמים. More than that he is lord of the sea and dry land. He is, therefore, the one responsible for and able to stop the סער.
  10. Sailors fear greatly and ask what Jonah thinks he is playing at?!
  11. Sailors enquire what is required to do to calm the sea.
  12. Jonah tells sailors to lift him up and throw him over board.
  13. Sailors try to row back, unable to do so.
  14. Pray to God.
  15. Jonah’s overboard. Sea stands still.
  16. Sailors recognise that v9 is true and so sacrifice and vow to YHWH.

Jonah 1:1-3

  1. The word of YHWH came (3ms Qal wayiqqtol + b hence “came to” not “was to”) to Jonah, son of Ammitay (apposition), saying (Qal infin cons + l).
  2. Arise, go (2x 2ms Qal imptv, asyndeton) to Nineveh, the great city (apposition), and call out (2ms Qal imptv) against it (lit. her) because (or “that”) its wickedness has come up before me.”
  3. And Jonah arose (3ms Qal wayiqqtol) to flee (Qal infin cons + l) to Tarshish from the presense of YHWH, and he went down (3ms Qal wayiqqtol) (to) Joppa and he found (3ms Qal wayiqqtol) a ship going (fs Qal act pcpl) to Tarshish, and he paid (3ms Qal wayiqqtol) the fair and he went down (3ms Qal wayiqqtol) onto it to go (Qal infin cons + l) with them to Tarshish.

Complements and Adjucts

Tucker (p8) explains why he doesn’t use Greek/English terminology like ‘genitive’ and ‘accusative’ for Hebrew syntax because there are very few such formal distinctions with the language. Instead he opts for the terms “adjunct” and “complement” which he defines as:

  • adjunct – non-verbal elements which can be removed from the predicate, or verbal phrase, without disrupting or influencing the construction (p8).
  • complement – obligatory non-omissible and non-verbal parts of the predicate or verb phrase. (p8). On p105 he lists direct objects and indirect objects as examples.

Hebrew words are virtually meaning less outside of their contexts.

Hebrew Discourse Linguistics

Of the five main types of Hebrew discourse (narrative, hortatory, expository, predictive and procedural) only the first three occur in Jonah. Details of each outlined below based on Tucker’s Handbook on Jonah pages 3-7 (


Seeks to narrative a series of events in a story:

  • Mainline
    • wayiqqtol
    • weqatal – pivitol/climactic event
  • Off-the-line
    • topicalisation: X + qatal
    • embedded direct speech
    • past background: qatal in dependant clause
    • non-past background: yiqtol in dependant clause
    • background activities: participle
    • embedded procedural discourse
    • transition marker: wayiqqtol of היה
    • scene setting: verbless clause
    • irrealis: verb negation by לֹא


“exhort someone to act in a particular mannar”

  • mainline
    • imperative
    • cohortative
    • jussive
    • weqatal
  • off-the-line
    • topicalisation: X + imperative/cohortative/jussive
    • prohibitive comands: אַל or לֹא + yiqtol
    • possibility: yiqtol
    • consequence/purpose: weqatal; לֹא or פֶּן + yiqtol; embedded predictive narrative
    • identification of a problem: embedded historical narrative
    • background activities: participle
    • scene setting: verbless clause


Explains stuff or makes statements.

  • mainline
    • verbless clause
  • off-the-line
    • qatal of היה
    • X + qatal
    • yiqtol + present time reference
    • qatal/yiqtol in dependand clauses
    • embedded discourse