“And he said:
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.”
Verses 2-9 are a prayer. It is a verbatim prayer of Jonah for delivering him from the belly of the great fish.
And he said:
Jonah now prayed to Jehovah in his desperation.
I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
This passage shows a change of pace from the rebellious attitude of Jonah in chapter one to an appeal to God’s grace.
And He answered me.
God answered Jonah’s prayer with a miraculous provision of the fish. God must have had a great purpose for Jonah’s life since He provided the fish.
Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
“Sheol” is equivalent to the word Hades in the New Testament. It is the place of departed spirits. We can translate “Sheol” as grave in this verse. The belly of the fish was a grave. Apparently, Jonah died.
And You heard my voice.
God delivered Jonah from the belly of the fish. The emphasis in this verse is upon what God did.
God has a purpose for us as long as we are still alive.
God has a purpose for us as long as we are alive. God may have to discipline us, but He still has a purpose for us.
What is Sheol? Sheol is not the same as Hell. Both Sheol and Hades are temporary hells and will be dumped into the Lake of Fire, the permanent Hell.
Re 20:14, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
Sheol is not a place where souls sleep. The rich man saw Lazarus afar off (Lu 16). He also saw Abraham, and he talked to both of them.
Hello Grant. I thought that Jonah, although near death, did not actually die in the fish, but used metaphorical language, as did others when they spoke of Sheol: eg. Ps. 30:3, Ps.33:18, Pr. 23:14 and Ps. 6:5 (where Sheol is even described as an enormous mouth swallowing princes). You mention that he “apparently” dies – does it change the significance or the meaning of the text whether he died literally here or was rescued from the brink of death? Thanks.
I was reading in another commentary recently where the author makes this comment. “The NIV has done a disservice by translating “Sheol” as grave.” The reasoning is that, as she goes on to describe, a grave was something that was either dug in the earth or carved out of rock. Scripture describes Sheol as a “place of darkness” (Job 10), “dust” (Ps. 22), “a place from which there is no return” (Job 7). In understanding the Hebrew concept of death, does not this prayer of Jonah give us a picture that he was not actually dead, but could have been were it not for God’s intervention? I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.
Jerry, I am in India right now but I will answer your question when I get back. p.s. NIV is not a very good translation according to the consensus of scholars togday.
Jerry, the biblical concept of death is separation. Physical death is the separation of the physical body from the soul and spirit. Spiritual death is separation of the person from God.
Jesus refers to this passage as analogous to His death and resurrection and, therefore, probably refers to literal death. However, the death here could be metaphorical but the reference to “Sheol” probably makes this passage lean more to a literal death.
Good to hear from you, by the way!
So, Grant, how is Sheol related to Hades? Are Hades and Sheol used interchangeably? And how does Jesus’ bringing souls out (of Sheol and/or of Hades) fit in with the idea of the “Harrowing of Hell”? Our Bible study ladies might be interested to hear this answer!
Deb, Sheol in the Old Testament is close to the term Hades in the New Testament. As any biblical word, Sheol has several meanings. For example, Sheol can simply refer to the grave as it does in this passage, as you say. The idea is that of an underground region. However, the Old Testament also personifies Sheol as the power of Satan and his demonic hosts (Job 18:14; Ps. 18:4–5; Isa. 28:15; Jer. 9:21).
The Greek term Hades more often refers to a temporary hell (Luke 10:15; 16:23), a place of torment, that will ultimately be dumped into hell itself or the Lake of Fire (Re 20:13).
Gehenna, a term that Jesus used, always refers to hell (Mt 5:33; 23:33).
The Lake of Fire is the final abode of unbelievers after they are resurrected (Re 20:14,15).
Thus, Sheol and Hades are at times used interchangeably, the context must determine which. Both Sheol and Hades as temporary forms of hell will eventually be dumped into the Lake of Fire.
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