The Meaning of Jonah 1:9 Explained

Jonah 1:9

KJV: And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

YLT: And he saith unto them, 'A Hebrew I am, and Jehovah, God of the heavens, I am reverencing, who made the sea and the dry land.'

Darby: And he said unto them, I am a Hebrew, and I fear Jehovah, the God of the heavens, who hath made the sea and the dry land.

ASV: And he said unto them, I am a Hebrew; and I fear Jehovah, the God of heaven, who hath made the sea and the dry land.

What does Jonah 1:9 Mean?

Study Notes

fear of the Lord
The "fear of the Lord," a phrase of the O.T. piety, meaning reverential trust, with hatred of evil.

Verse Meaning

It should have been no surprise to the sailors that Jonah was a Hebrew since they had taken him on board at Joppa, a major port in Israel. "Hebrew" is the name by which the Israelites" neighbors knew them (cf. 1 Samuel 4:6; 1 Samuel 4:9; 1 Samuel 14:11). Jonah probably identified himself as a Hebrew as a preamble to explaining that he worshipped Yahweh Elohim, the heavenly God of the Hebrews. The Phoenicians also thought of Baal as a sky god (cf. 1 Kings 18:24). It was the fact that this God made the sea on which they traveled, as well as the dry land, that convinced the sailors that Jonah had done something very serious. It was obvious to them that Jonah"s God was after him and had sent the storm to put him in His hands. Ironically what was so clear to these pagans was obscure to the runaway prophet. When God sovereignly selects someone for special service, that person cannot run and hide from Him. Jonah had not yet learned this lesson.
The title "the God of heaven" is common in the postexilic books (e.g, Ezra 1:2; Ezra 7:12; Nehemiah 1:4; Daniel 2:18-19; Daniel 2:37; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 5:21; Daniel 5:23). This fact has influenced some scholars to conclude that the Book of Jonah must also date from the same period. However this title was a very old one in Israel"s history (cf. Genesis 24:3; Genesis 24:7). Its use on this occasion was particularly appropriate since it expressed the supremacy of Yahweh to polytheistic pagans.
Jonah"s confession is a central feature in the narrative. It is the center of a literary chiasmus that begins in Jonah 1:4 and extends through Jonah 1:16. [1]

Context Summary

Jonah 1:1-16 - Fleeing From God And Duty
Jonah is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25. He was clearly very patriotic, and did not despair of his country in its darkest days. This commission to Nineveh was therefore not to his taste, because he had no desire to see the great heathen city brought to her knees. Another century would have to pass before Isaiah and Micah would proclaim that the heathen world would turn to God, Micah 4:1; Isaiah 2:2.
Rather than go upon this errand of mercy, Jonah hurried down to the one seaport, that he might escape his duty. Sin is always a descent; we always have to pay heavily in tolls and fares when we take our own way instead of God's, and we must never reckon that opportunity implies permission.
Weary with excitement and travel, the prophet is oblivious to the weighing of the anchor. The disasters that block the way of disobedience are harder than our difficulties in performing God's bidding. Note the divine agency in our lives: the word of the Lord came; the Lord hurled forth a great wind; the Lord prepared a great fish. There were, in these heathen sailors, beautiful traits which ought to have abashed the prophet. Their prayer to their idols and their endeavor to save this stranger Jew are as instructive as remarkable. [source]

Chapter Summary: Jonah 1

1  Jonah, sent to Nineveh, flees to Tarshish
4  He is betrayed by a great storm;
11  thrown into the sea;
17  and swallowed by a fish

What do the individual words in Jonah 1:9 mean?

so he said to them a Hebrew I [am] and Yahweh God of the heaven I fear who made - the sea the dry [land]
וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֖ם עִבְרִ֣י אָנֹ֑כִי וְאֶת־ יְהוָ֞ה אֱלֹהֵ֤י הַשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙ אֲנִ֣י יָרֵ֔א אֲשֶׁר־ עָשָׂ֥ה אֶת־ הַיָּ֖ם הַיַּבָּשָֽׁה

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר  so  he  said 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אָמַר 
Sense: to say, speak, utter.
אֲלֵיהֶ֖ם  to  them 
Parse: Preposition, third person masculine plural
Root: אֶל  
Sense: to, toward, unto (of motion).
עִבְרִ֣י  a  Hebrew 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: עִבְרִי  
Sense: a designation of the patriarchs and the Israelites adj.
אָנֹ֑כִי  I  [am] 
Parse: Pronoun, first person common singular
Root: אָנׄכִי  
Sense: I (first pers.
יְהוָ֞ה  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
אֱלֹהֵ֤י  God 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural construct
Root: אֱלֹהִים  
Sense: (plural).
הַשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙  of  the  heaven 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine plural
Root: שָׁמַיִם  
Sense: heaven, heavens, sky.
יָרֵ֔א  fear 
Parse: Adjective, masculine singular
Root: יָרֵא  
Sense: fearing, reverent, afraid.
עָשָׂ֥ה  made 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person masculine singular
Root: עָשָׂה 
Sense: to do, fashion, accomplish, make.
אֶת־  - 
Parse: Direct object marker
Root: אֹות 
Sense: sign of the definite direct object, not translated in English but generally preceding and indicating the accusative.
הַיָּ֖ם  the  sea 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: יָם  
Sense: sea.
הַיַּבָּשָֽׁה  the  dry  [land] 
Parse: Article, Noun, feminine singular
Root: יַבָּשָׁה  
Sense: dry land, dry ground.