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A Psalm of Thanksgiving


Then Jonah prayed to the L ord his God from the belly of the fish, 2saying,

“I called to the L ord out of my distress,

and he answered me;

out of the belly of Sheol I cried,

and you heard my voice.


You cast me into the deep,

into the heart of the seas,

and the flood surrounded me;

all your waves and your billows

passed over me.


Then I said, ‘I am driven away

from your sight;

how shall I look again

upon your holy temple?’


The waters closed in over me;

the deep surrounded me;

weeds were wrapped around my head


at the roots of the mountains.

I went down to the land

whose bars closed upon me forever;

yet you brought up my life from the Pit,

O L ord my God.


As my life was ebbing away,

I remembered the L ord;

and my prayer came to you,

into your holy temple.


Those who worship vain idols

forsake their true loyalty.


But I with the voice of thanksgiving

will sacrifice to you;

what I have vowed I will pay.

Deliverance belongs to the L ord!”

10 Then the L ord spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land.


Then he says, I cried, when I had trouble, to Jehovah, and he answered me. Jonah no doubt relates now, after having come forth from the bowels of the fish, what had happened to him, and he gives thanks to the Lord. 3737     He relates here, as it appears from the preceding, “and he said,” the prayer he offered when in the fish’s bowels, and not a prayer offered after his deliverance. Some have entertained the latter opinion, because some of the verbs here are in the past tense: but this circumstance only shows that he continued to pray from the time when he was swallowed by the fish to the time when he was delivered. It was a continued act. It is the same as though he said, “I have called, and do call on Jehovah.” Marckius, and also Dathius, render the verbs in the present tense, “I call,” etc. The following is a translation according to the view of this prayer, —
   3. I call in my distress on Jehovah, and he will answer me;
From the belly of the grave I cry,
thou hearest my voice.

   4. When thou didst send me to the deep, into the midst of the waters,
And the flood surrounded me,

Thy billows and waves over me passed;

   5. Then I said, I am banished from the sight of thine eyes;
Yet I will again look towards the temple of thy holiness.

   6. Encompass me do the waters to the soul,
The deep surrounds me,
The sedge is wrapped around my head:

   7. To the cuttings off of the mountains have I descended;
The earth! Its bars
are continually around me:
But thou wilt bring from destruction my life,
O Jehovah, my God.

   8. When overwhelmed within me was my soul,
Jehovah did I remember;
And come to thee shall my prayer

To the temple of thy holiness.

   9. They who regard idols of vanity,
Their own mercy forsake:

   10. But I, with the voice of praise, will sacrifice to thee,
What I have vowed will I fulfill:
belongs to Jehovah.

   “The cuttings off,” in verse 7, says Parkhurst, were those parts which were cut off from the mountains at the deluge. The Septuagint has σχισμας — rents-clefts. Roots, bottoms, foundations, have been adopted by some, but not consistently with the meaning of the original word, — “The bars or bolts” of the earth convey the idea of impediments in his way to return to the earth. They were “around” him, or literally “upon” him, בעדי, that is, they were, as it were, closed upon him. — Ed.
This verse then contains two parts, — that Jonah in his trouble fled to God, — and the latter part contains thanksgiving for having been miraculously delivered beyond what flesh could have thought. I cried, he says, in my distress, to Jehovah; I cried out from the bowels of hell, thou hast heard my voice. Jonah, as we shall hereafter see, directed his prayers to God not without great struggle; he contended with many difficulties; but however great the impediments in his way, he still persevered and ceased not from praying. He now tells us that he had not prayed in vain; and, that he might amplify the grace of God, he says, from the bowels of the grave He mentioned distress (angustiam — straitness) in the first clause; but here he more clearly expresses how remarkable and extraordinary had been the kindness of God, that he came forth safe from the bowels of the fish, which were like the bowels of the grave. שאול, shaul, derived from corruption, is called the grave by the Hebrews, and the Latin translator has almost everywhere rendered it hell, (infernum;) and שאול, shaul, is also sometimes taken for hell, that is, the state of the reprobate, because they know that they are condemned by God: it is, however, taken more frequently for the grave; and I am disposed to retain this sense, — that the fish was like the grave. But he means that he was so shut up in the grave, that there was no escape open to him.

What are the bowels of the grave? Even the inside or the recess of the grave itself. When Jonah was in this state, he says, that he was heard by the Lord. It may be proper to repeat again what I have already slightly touched, — that Jonah was not so oppressed, though under the heaviest trial, but that his petitions came forth to God. He prayed as it were from hell, and not simply prayed, for he, at the same time, sets forth his vehemence and ardor by saying, that he cried and cried aloud. Distress, no doubt, extorted from Jonah these urgent entreaties. However this might have been, he did not howl, as the unbelieving are wont to do, who feel their own evils and bitterly complain; and yet they pour forth vain howlings. Jonah here shows himself to be different from them by saying, that he cried and cried aloud to God. It now follows —

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