Jonah 2:1-10* (Jonah’s prayer)

Jonah chapter 2.1-10

Note: The following analysis is based on the article by Jerome T. Walsh

Jonah 2,3-10 : A Rhetorical Critical Study Jerome T. Walsh, Biblica Vol. 63, No. 2 (1982), pp. 219-229

The prayer forms an ABBA chiastic structure. The introductory couplet A (v2) outlines the major themes of the prayer; the distress of Jonah and the response of Yahweh. The first halves of each line of the couplet are chiastically arranged. What follows is a poem of two stanzas. The first lines of each stanza both include “the flood/deep surrounded me” and both last lines conclude with “holy temple”.

The first stanza (B) is made up of two couplets. The first couplet (v3) is a description of Jonah sinking; the second couplet (v4) reveals Jonah’s crying out mentioned in verse 2. Here we learn Jonah feels distanced from Yahweh.

The second stanza (B’) is larger and elaborates on the first. It is also in two halves but each consists of an initial line followed by a couplet. In both cases the couplets expand on their preceding opening lines. The first line + couplet continues with a description similar to the opening of the first stanza. Here the poetry is even more vivid and the metaphor for death is introduced – the deep chaotic waters. Two images are here arranged chiastically – Walsh describes the first as ‘the terror of being trapped and held, unable to break free’ and the second as ‘sinking to the ultimate depths, to the eternal abode of death’. The second half of this stanza develops material from the Introductory unit (A); this time it draws upon the second halves of the opening lines in verse 2 – the answer of Yahweh.

The prayer is concluded with a final unit (A’). Again we have a line + couplet. The couplet is the last occurrence of chiastic parallelism in the prayer. The concluding unit lies outside of the narrative form and details the main exhortation and lesson of the prayer: being thankful of Yahweh’s salvation. The opening voice of distress has here been transformed into the “voice of thanksgiving”.

The prayer comes at the heart of the book of Jonah. In only 8 verses it has demonstrated so many different structural and poetic devices. The level of intricacy is awesome! This prayer beautifully illustrates the sophistication of God’s Word.

Isaiah 63:15 – 64:12

edited in light of comment

A. 15 Look down from heaven,
and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory: where is thy zeal and thy strength,
the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies toward me?
are they restrained?

B.(16)  Doubtless thou art our father,
though Abraham be ignorant of us,
and Israel acknowledge us not:
thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer;
thy name is from everlasting.

C.(17) O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways,
and hardened our heart from thy fear?
Return for thy servants ‘sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.
(18) The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary.
(19) We are thine:
thou never barest rule over them;
they were not called by thy name.

D. (1) Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens,
that thou wouldest come down,
that the mountains might flow down at thy presence
(2) As when the melting fire burneth,
the fire causeth the waters to boil,
to make thy name known to thine adversaries,
that the nations may tremble at thy presence!
(3) When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for,
thou camest down,
the mountains flowed down at thy presence.

E. (4) For since the beginning of the world men have not heard,
nor perceived by the ear,
neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee,
what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.

D’. (5)Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways:
behold, thou art wroth;
for we have sinned:
in those is continuance,
and we shall be saved.

C’.(6) But we are all as an unclean thing,
and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;
and we all do fade as a leaf;
and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
(7) And there is none that calleth upon thy name,
that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee:
for thou hast hid thy face from us,
and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.

B’. (8) But now, O LORD, thou art our father;
we are the clay, and thou our potter;
and we all are the work of thy hand.
9 Be not wroth very sore, O LORD,
neither remember iniquity for ever:

A’.  behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.
(10) Thy holy cities are a wilderness,
Zion is a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
(11) Our holy and our beautiful house,
where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire:
and all our pleasant things are laid waste.
(12) Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O LORD?
wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?