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William Shepard

The Prophet Jonah

Jeroboam the second, who succeeded his father, Jehoash, as king of Israel, was a very wicked prince, and was the cause of many misfortunes to his people. In spite of his wickedness, God was willing to make use of him to chastise the Syrians, who were also a very wicked people. He sent a prophet named Jonah to tell him that he should make war with the kingdom of Syria and destroy their towns, and Jeroboam did as he was told, and the Lord gave him the victory.

God had also told Jonah that he should go to a city named Nineveh and warn the citizens that a great punishment was in store for them. But out of fear he disobeyed God, and fled to the city of Joppa, and, finding a ship there, he embarked on it to go to Tarsus. On the passage a terrible storm arose, and the ship was in danger of sinking. Then the captain and his men began to pray to God, but Jonah did not join in their prayers, for he knew that it was on his account that the storm had been sent. The tempest increased, and the sailors began to think there was some one on board who was pursued by the anger of God. They threw lots to determine who this was, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

They asked him, "Who art thou, and what wicked thing hast thou done?"

Jonah answered, "I am an Israelite by birth, and a prophet of God, and if you wish to escape the danger you are in, cast me overboard, for I am the occasion of this storm."

At first they durst not do this, but finally they suffered Jonah to persuade them, and threw him overboard, as he had told them to do. The sea all at once became calm. And a great whale caught Jonah in his mouth and swallowed him alive. Jonah remained for three days in the whale's belly, and was then cast out upon the dry land. Jonah confessed his sin, and was forgiven by God; he then went to Nineveh to speak the words the Lord had intrusted to him.

Jeroboam the Second ruled for forty years, and then died, and his son Zechariah took the kingdom.