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Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

1:1 Jonah. Jonah was not a mythical personage, as many critics have alleged, but a real prophet, who prophesied in Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II (see II Kings 14:23,25).

1:2 Nineveh. Nineveh was, indeed, the greatest Assyrian city, founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-12). Soon after Jonah’s time it became the capital of Assyria, the world’s greatest empire. It was situated by the Tigris river, on the east side, near the modern city of Mosul, Iraq, and archaeologists have been excavating its remains for over a hundred years now.

1:2 wickedness. The wickedness and cruelty of the Assyrians was the scandal of the ancient world. After a brief revival following Jonah’s preaching (Jonah 3:5), the nation became even worse later on, and Nahum then prophesied its utter destruction Nahum 1:1; 3:7).

1:3 Tarshish. Tarshish was a distant seaport, so far away that a round trip from Israel apparently took three years (I Kings 10:22). The location of Tarshish is commonly thought to have been in either Spain or Great Britain, but the exotic nature of cargoes from there, carried in the ships of the Phoenician king Hiram of Tyre (II Chronicles 9:21), might indicate a location either in central Africa or east Asia. More evidence is accumulating that the Phoenicians may have sailed all over the world.

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