Who is…

Hebrew: יוֹנָה ——transliteration: Yōnāh, Yonah, or Jonah

Literal meaning: a dove

Jonah is the son of Amittai of Gath-hepher. Jonah was a prophet of Israel, and predicted the restoration of the ancient boundaries (2 Kings 14:25-27) of the kingdom.

His ministry took place very early in the reign of King Jeroboam II, and thus was contemporary with the prophets Hosea and Amos; or possibly he preceded them, and consequently may have been the very oldest of all the prophets whose writings we possess.

His personal history is mainly to be gathered from the book which bears his name. It is chiefly interesting from the two-fold character in which he appears, (1) as a missionary to heathen Nineveh, and (2) as a type of the “Son of man.”

Jonah’s disobedience of God’s command

The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying,

“Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”

But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. —Jonah 1:1-3 NASB

The certain location of this Tarshish has been lost to time, but it may have been ancient Tartessos (aka Tartessus, Onoba Aestuaria, Onuba, Onoba, Walbah) a city and kingdom in what is now the Andalusian region of Spain. The modern city identified with it is called Huelva, the capital of the province of Huelva. During the last 3-thousand years, the geography has changed, due flooding rivers and at least 2 tsunamis. “There are indications that the name Tartessos had fallen out of use and the [ancient] city may have been lost to flooding.” “Archaeological discoveries in the region have built up a picture of a…widespread culture, identified as Tartessian, that includes some 97 inscriptions in a Tartessian language.”

“Tartessos was a highly urbanized society with many towns along the banks of the river Guadalquivir. Some Tartessian cities which are known today include:

  • Huelva
  • Escacena del Campo (in the province of Huelva) where the most important findings of this civilization have been made
  • ‘Turtha’ (today Puerto de Santa Maria in Cadiz)
  • Seville
  • ‘Urso’ (today Osuna in Seville)
  • Etibirge (today Elvira in Granada)” —All About Spain

Note that if this was ancient Tarshish, its location is in the opposite direction to what Jonah was told to go. Nineveh was far east of Jonah, on the Tigris River, and Tarshish very far west, beyond the Mediterranean Sea gateway of Gibraltar.

Modern Huelva, Spain—satellite view
Article Version: August 30, 2017

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