The Story of Jonah

About this and other paraphrased bible stories


God told Jonah to go to a city called Nineveh and tell them that He knew about all the evil things they were doing. But instead, Jonah tried to run away to a city called Tarshish. He was trying to get away from God. To get to Tarshish, Jonah had to get in a ship in the city of Joppa and travel there by sea.

While he was on the ship, the Lord brought a great storm upon the water. The ship was almost ready to break into pieces! The men on the ship started crying out to their gods for help. And they threw all the cargo on board into the sea to help lighten the load. All the while Jonah stayed in the bottom of the boat, underneath the deck. He was sleeping there. The captain woke Jonah and said, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and cry out to your god! Maybe He will listen to you and save us so that we will not die!"

Then the men on the ship decided to try and find out why this was happening. They guessed that Jonah was the reason for the storm. So they asked him, "Why is this bad thing happening? Where are you from and what do you do?" So Jonah said, "I am from Israel and I believe in the God of Heaven who made everything." Then the men on the ship were very afraid and said to Jonah, "What have you done?" because Jonah told them that he was running away from God.

So they asked Jonah, "What do we need to do so that the sea will calm down?" Jonah said, "Pick me up and throw me into the water and the storm will go away. It is my fault that this storm has come upon us all." But even though Jonah said this, the men on the ship would not throw Jonah overboard. Instead they tried rowing harder and fought against the storm. But then they prayed to God and said, "Lord, do not punish us for doing what we are about to do because we’re doing what we think you want us to do." And after saying that they threw Jonah overboard. Immediately the storm stopped and the sea was calm. Then the men believed in God and began to fear Him.

Then the Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah spent three days and three nights in the fish’s belly.


Now, while Jonah was in the belly of the great fish, He prayed to God and said,

"I called out to the Lord when I was in trouble and he answered me. I cried to You from the darkness and You heard me!

"You threw me into the deep sea and the waters came up around me and the waves went over my head and I said, ‘I have been driven away from Your presence’ but I will see You again.

"The water overtook me and I thought I was going to die but you saved me, O Lord, my God!

"When my life was fading away, I remembered You, and You heard my prayer!

"Those who pray to any other god than You will never know about Your great love. But I am thankful to You and know that You are a God who saves!"

After this, the Lord spoke to the fish and the fish vomited Jonah out on to dry land.


Then God said to Jonah again, "Get up, and go to the great city of Nineveh and tell them the message that I will tell you." So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh just as the Lord told him to.

Nineveh was so big that it would take three days just to walk from one side to the other. So Jonah went into the city about one day’s journey saying, "After 40 days Nineveh will be destroyed!" The people of Nineveh believed God because of the message that Jonah was preaching. They mourned and wept for all the evil they had done–every last person in Nineveh!

When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he got up from his throne, took off his robe, and mourned and wept. Then he made a proclamation: "Nobody should eat or drink, instead let everybody turn away from all the bad things he does! Maybe God will change his mind about destroying us so that we can live!"

And when God saw what they did, how they turned away from all their evil, He changed His mind about destroying them. He did not do to them what He had said He would do.


But this made Jonah very angry. He prayed to God and said, "Isn’t this why I didn’t want to come to Nineveh? This is why I ran away: because I knew you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and full of love–One who is willing to change His mind about disaster. So then I ask that you take away my life because I would rather die than live." And God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry?"

So Jonah went out of the city and sat down in the shade watching the city from a distance to see what would happen. While he sat, God caused a plant to grow up over Jonah so that he wouldn’t be uncomfortable. Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. But in the morning God caused a worm to eat the plant so that the plant died. When sun arose, God caused the heat to beat heavily on Jonah so that he was about to faint. And again Jonah asked God that he might die saying, "It is better for me to die than to live." But God said to Jonah, "Are you right to be angry about the plant?" Jonah said, "Yes. I am so angry about the plant that I want to die." Then the Lord said, "You have compassion on the plant–a plant that you did nothing to help grow and which came up in one day and wilted in one day. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, that great city in which there are more than 120,000 people who do not know right from wrong and also many animals?

1 Timothy 2:4
"God our Savior desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth"


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