© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Old Testament
Week 17: The early prophets—Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Micah
1) Introduction.
a) [SLIDE 2] With this lesson we now move into the final section of the Old Testament
known as the prophets.
i) The prophets are different from the writings of the Law, history, and wisdom/poetry
literature. These writings are oracles, utterances given by the prophet in response to
an inquiry made of God or a message of judgment against people who have offended
ii) Although prophets and prophecy go back to the beginning of human history,
written prophets of the Old Testament don’t appear until well after the time of David
and Solomon.
iii) With the exception of Jonah, all of the prophetic books were—or at least claim
have been written by the prophet after whom the book is named.
(1) These books typically begin with a superscription that identifies the author and
explains that the words that follow are from God. For example:
(a) ―The vision of Isaiah…‖ (Isaiah 1:1).
(b) ―The words of Jeremiah…to whom the word of the LORD came…‖ (Jeremiah
(c) ―The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel…‖ (Ezekiel 1:3).
(d) ―The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea…‖ (Hosea 1:1).
iv) The writings of the prophets are largely composed of Hebrew poetic verse.

(1) Again, we can’t see the verse structure in our King James Bibles, but a perceptive
reader can usually pick these out. A modern-English Bible translation can also
help you identify poetic passages.
v) The prophets are typically divided into two groups:
(1) The Major Prophets, consisting of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and

(2) The Minor Prophets, consisting of Hosea through Malachi, also sometimes
known as the Book of the Twelve.

(3) Major and minor do not refer to their importance, but rather to their length.
vi) The prophetic books are not in chronological order, but rather are grouped by length
first and then by date.

Adam himself is described as one who prophesied in the name of God (Moses 5:10; 6:8).
As we’ll see as we study the individual books, the subject of authorship is complicated in some cases. The books of Isaiah
and Daniel especially have difficulties in establishing who wrote some of their material.
See notes to lesson 16, pages 3–5 (http://bit.ly/ldsarcot16n).
In the Hebrew Bible, Daniel is not classed among the prophets (Nevi’im), but rather is part of the historical writings
(Ketuvim), alongside Ezra and Chronicles.
Or Trei Asar in Aramaic.
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(1) The traditional dates that determined the order in which they were placed were
sometimes wrong. In our course we will study them in the likely order in which
they were produced, beginning tonight with Amos, Hosea, Jonah, and Micah.
b) [SLIDE 3] Before we start, I’d like to recap a little of the history from lesson 15.

i) Following the death of Solomon around 931 B.C., his kingdom was divided in two.
The northern kingdom was called Israel or Ephraim, and the southern kingdom was
called Judah.
ii) The four prophets we’ll be studying tonight lived about 200 years after the kingdoms
were divided, during the 8th century B.C.
(1) [SLIDE 4] During this time, Assyria was the dominant power in the Near East,
and was a constant threat to Israel and Judah’s independence and security.
(a) The dark green area on this map indicates the boundaries of Assyria at the
end of the 9th century, when Israel and Judah were still independent
kingdoms. By the time we get to the end of this lesson and the beginning of
the 7th century, Assyria will have overrun Israel, and turned Judah into a
vassal state.
2) Amos.
a) [SLIDE 5] Biography.
i) Amos is probably the earliest prophet in the Old Testament’s prophetic writings.
ii) He was one of a few prophets who ministered in the northern kingdom of Israel.
iii) According to the superscription (Amos 1:1), Amos prophesied during the long and
peaceful reign of Jeroboam II (788–747 B.C.). His ministry was probably during the
decade of 760–750 B.C.

(1) During this time, Israel was at the height of prominence and prosperity.
(2) But, as we see so often in the scriptures, this prosperity led to wickedness. In this
case there were gross inequalities between the wealthy and the poor. Wealthy
landowners manipulated debt and credit to take land away from small family
iv) Amos himself was a farmer and shepherd from Tekoa, a small village in the southern
kingdom of Judah, about 10 miles south of Jerusalem.

v) His name means ―burden.‖
(1) His name has connections to Malachi, who referred to his calling as ―the burden
of the word of the LORD‖ (Malachi 1:1), and the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob,
who told the Nephites that ―the word of God burdens me because of your grosser
crimes‖ (Jacob 2: 23).
vi) After Amos was called by the Lord, he went to Bethel, the capital of Israel and center
of idol worship where king Jeroboam II lived.

See notes to lesson 15, pages 2–4 (http://bit.ly/ldsarcot15n).
The superscription indicates that Amos’ ministry started ―two years before the earthquake.‖ This earthquake was
apparently an event significant enough to be remembered as simply ―the earthquake.‖ Amos indicated several times that this
earthquake was a sign of the truth of his prophecy against Israel (Amos 4:13; 8:8; 9:1, 5).
Tekoa is most often identified as the modern Khirbet Taqu’a, a site on the eastern slopes of the Judean hills about 10
miles south of Jerusalem.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Micah Week 17, Page 3
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b) [SLIDE 6] Outline.
i) The book of Amos has three major parts:
(1) Chapters 1–2 are an ethical tour of the region from the Lord’s perspective,
culminating in judgment on Israel itself.
(2) Chapters 3–6 are a collection of short prophetic sayings that indict Israel for sin
and injustice.
(3) Chapters 7–9 contain the visions of Amos, including a dialog with Amaziah, the
priest of Bethel (Amos 7:10–17), and a final speech of comfort addressed to the
kingdom of Judah (Amos 9:11–15).

c) [SLIDE 7] The judgments against the nations (Amos 1:3–2:16).
i) In chapters 1 and 2 Amos pronounced judgment on the surrounding nations.
(1) His audience would have listened with delight as he listed the evil things their
enemies had done and what God was going to do to them.
ii) It seems that Amos used these speeches to build to a climax: He started with
foreigners, then denounced Israel’s neighbors, and then the seventh speech was
against Judah. The number seven is significant in the Bible; his audience would have
thought Judah was the culmination of the sermon and they certainly would have
been pleased that she was going to ―get what was coming to her.‖
(1) [7.1] Damascus (Syria), ―because they have threshed Gilead with threshing
instruments of iron‖ (Amos 1:3–5).

(2) [7.2] Gaza (the Philistines), ―because they carried away captive [an entire
population], to deliver them up to Edom [as slaves]‖ (Amos 1:6–8).
(3) [7.3] Tyre (the Phoenicians), for their slave trade with Edom (Amos 1:9–10).
(4) [7.4] Edom, for ―pursu[ing] his brother with the sword.‖
(Amos 1:11–12.)
(5) [7.5] Ammon, ―because they…ripped up [pregnant] women…that they might
enlarge their [territory]‖ (Amos 1:13–15).
(6) [7.6] Moab, for desecrating graves (Amos 2:1–3).
(7) [7.7] Judah, for rejecting the law of the Lord, not keeping the commandment,
and following false gods instead of the one true God (Amos 2:4–5).
(8) One can almost hear the cheering from Amos’ audience as each of Israel’s
neighbors, one by one, was condemned.
iii) [7.8] And then, surprise!: He continued and added an unexpected eighth item to the
list (Amos 2:6–16).

It seems odd that an entire prophetic book directed toward Israel would end with a few verses addressed to Judah.
Because of this, some scholars believe that the closing passage was added later when the book of Amos was incorporated into
the Jewish prophetic writings.
―A threshing sledge was made of wooden boards embedded with sharp stones or iron teeth. As the sledge was pulled
over the threshing floor the stones or iron teeth would separate the grain from the stalks. Here the threshing metaphor is used
to emphasize how violent and inhumanely the Arameans (the people of Damascus) had treated the people of Gilead (located
east of the Jordan River).‖ NET Bible, 1st ed. (2005), Amos 1:3 fn.
The nation of Edom descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob/Israel (Genesis 36:1).
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Micah Week 17, Page 4
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(1) Israel, for:
(a) Oppressing the innocent and the poor (Amos 2:6b–7a),
(b) Engaging in pagan religious practices (Amos 2:7b),
(c) Abusing the system of pledges and fines (Amos 2:8), and
(d) Showing lack of respect for God’s consecrated men and prophets (Amos 2:12).
iv) Two points on these judgments:
(1) Amos said he was going to list ―three transgressions, and for four‖ for each of the
nations (1:3), but he only actually listed four sins when he came to Israel. He
didn’t list four sins for the other nations because Israel was the target of the
coming judgment.
(2) Second, Israel’s sins don’t look nearly as bad as those of the other nations. So why
did God consider Israel to be worse than all the other nations?
(a) Because ―you only [Israel] have I known of all the families of the earth,
therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities‖ (Amos 3:1–2).
(b) Israel was a chosen people, and, to them, that meant were immune from
judgment, because they were the chosen people living in the chosen city. They
thought it didn’t matter what they did. But, in reality, that meant that God
held them to a higher standard.
(c) This principle was restated in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith:
For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins
against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.
(D&C 82:3).
(d) We have a tendency to want to earn or deserve God’s blessings. But there is a
fine line here that we need to understand: We do not earn God’s blessings by
being good; we only free him up to graciously bless us.
d) [SLIDE 8] God always reveals his plans to his prophets (Amos 3:3–8).
i) In 3:3–8 Amos used seven rhetorical questions
to show that God always reveals
what he intends to do through his prophets.
ii) Verses 3–6 illustrate cause and effect and lay the logical foundation for verses 7–8.
The answer to each question is ―of course not!‖
iii) The meaning of 3:7–8 is, ―Well then, just as certain as those things are, the lord
Jehovah will do nothing without first revealing his intentions to his servants the
prophets. When a divine message is revealed, the prophet must speak.‖
(1) In this case God’s ―plan‖ was for the destruction and scattering of Israel (Amos
(2) Amos prophesied that only a remnant (pieces) of Israel would remain when the
Assyrian captivity came (Amos 3:12).

There’s the number seven again. In the Old Testament, seven represents fulfillment.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Micah Week 17, Page 5
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e) Amos delivered four more messages of judgment in Amos 4–6.
i) One in particular is striking: In Amos 4:1–3, he compared the women of Israel to
fat cows.
(1) These wealthy women who ―oppress[ed] the poor…crush[ed] the needy,‖ and
filled themselves with wine would be taken away just like fish being carried in
baskets to the market.
Like cattle, they would be lead through gaps in the walls
(imagery of the broken walls of Bethel after the Assyrian conquest) and cast out.

ii) The core of Amos’ message is found in 5:21–24, where the Lord told Israel that he
hated and rejected their religious offerings and celebrations, and commanded them
to ―let judgment [justice] run down as waters, and righteousness as a might [ever-
flowing] stream‖ (5:24).

(1) This message still strikes home today:
(a) It’s very easy to think that we’re righteous because we can tick off the boxes to
prove it: We pay our tithing, obey the Word of Wisdom, attend our meetings,
etc., etc.
(b) But do we love our neighbor as ourselves? Do we seek justice for the
oppressed? Do we show kindness to those who are the most difficult to love?
Do we seek the truth, even when it’s not to our personal advantage?
(i) These kinds of things aren’t in the temple recommend interview, but they
are at least as important as the things that are.
f) [SLIDE 9] Amos then had a series of visions, beginning with a trio of visions of
destruction (Amos 7:1–9).
i) Each of these follows the same pattern: (1) the vision of destruction, (2) the plea for
mercy, and (3) the suspension of judgment.
ii) First was the Vision of the Locust Swarm:
This is what the Lord GOD showed me: he was forming locusts at the time the
latter growth began to sprout (it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings).

When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said,
“O Lord GOD, forgive, I beg you!
How can Jacob stand?
He is so small!”
The LORD relented concerning this;
“It shall not be,” said the LORD. (NRSV Amos 7:1–3.)

The imagery of catching fish in connection with the captivity of Israel is also found in Jeremiah 16:16 and Habakkuk
The word translated ―palaces‖ in the KJV is unclear; this is its only appearance in the Old Testament. Some translations
(NRSV, NET, NIV, ESV, NASB, NKJV) simply transliterate the Hebrew word חנומרהה (harmon). Others (KJV, NLT) take it to
mean a palace or fortress, from which the women will be driven out or cast. And some take it to mean a dung heap (NAB, NEB)
or garbage dump (JPS TANAKH, NCV).
This passage was made famous in modern times by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who used it frequently in his speeches
and writings, including his 16 April 1963 ―Letter from Birmingham Jail‖
The latter growth (consisting of vegetables) were planted in late January–early March and sprouted in conjunction with
the spring rains of March–April. The king’s mowings, or royal harvest, may refer to an initial mowing of crops collected as
taxes by the royal authorities.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Micah Week 17, Page 6
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iii) Next came the Vision of the Fire:
This is what the Lord GOD showed me: the Lord GOD was calling for a shower of
fire, and it devoured the great deep
and was eating up the land.
Then I said,
“O Lord GOD, cease, I beg you!
How can Jacob stand?
He is so small!”
The LORD relented concerning this;
“This also shall not be,” said the Lord GOD. (NRSV Amos 7:4–6.)
iv) Finally came the Vision of the Plumb Line:
This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a
plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand.
And the LORD said to me, “Amos, what
do you see?” And I said, “A plumb-line.” Then the Lord said,
“See, I am setting a plumb-line
in the midst of my people Israel;
I will never again pass them by;
the high places
of Isaac shall be made desolate,
and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”
(NRSV Amos 7:7–9.)
(1) [SLIDE 10] In the third and final vision of the series, the Lord showed Amos a
wall that was not perfectly vertical, and held a plumb-line to demonstrate how
much it leaned.
(a) A plumb-line is a weight (called a plumb-bob) that is suspended from a string
and used as a vertical reference line. This instrument has been used for
thousands of years by bricklayers, masons, and carpenters to ensure that their
constructions are ―plumb,‖ or perfectly upright.
(b) The Lord’s message here is that Israel was ―out-of-line‖ and didn’t measure up
to God’s standards. Amos had asked for mercy in the first two visions, but
when he was shown just how bad the people were (with the plumb-line),
Amos didn’t ask for mercy because he could see that the judgment was
(2) Too often we respond to bad things emotionally and blame God or think that it
isn’t fair, but we don’t see what is going on from God’s perspective.
g) [SLIDE 11] ―A famine of hearing the words of the LORD‖ (Amos 8:11–13).
i) One of the judgments prophesied by Amos was an end to divine revelation because of
Israel’s apostasy. This was directly fulfilled when the Lord stopped sending prophets
to Israel and they were allowed to be taken captive by Assyria.

The ―great deep‖ were vast caverns of water that ancient Israelites believed existed below the earth. They contributed to
the Great Flood (Genesis 7:11; cf. Isaiah 51:10).
The phrase ―high places‖ is a reference to a place of idol worship, typically found on a hill above the town that the shrine
served. Amos and Hosea both condemned Israel’s high places (Amos 7:9; Hosea 10:8). Micah called Jerusalem itself a ―high
place‖ (Micah 1:5) and announced its destruction (3:12), indicating that pagan worship had corrupted the temple services on
Mount Zion. ―High places‖ are also mentioned by Isaiah (16:12; 36:7), Jeremiah (3:21; 7:29, 31; 19:5; 32:35; 48:35), and
Ezekiel (6:3, 6; 16:16, 24–25, 31, 39).
Latter-day Saints often quote this passage as a prophecy of the post-New Testament apostasy, but that is not the event to
which Amos was referring.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Micah Week 17, Page 7
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h) Restoration (Amos 9:11–15).
i) The ultimate purpose for God’s judgment is not revenge; it is restoration. God
punishes us to bring us back to Him.
ii) In this prophecy the Lord promised to restore the Temple, conquer the surrounding
nations, and restore the agriculture and cities of Israel forever.
iii) This last prophecy is still awaiting fulfillment when Christ comes again and restores
the people of Israel permanently.
3) Hosea.
a) [SLIDE 12] Biography.
i) Hosea is another prophet of the northern kingdom. He’s a contemporary of Amos
who prophesied in the 30 years leading up to the Assyrian conquest in 721 B.C.
ii) His name means ―salvation is/of the LORD.‖
iii) His hometown and profession are not mentioned, and little is known about his life
other than his marriage to Gomer the prostitute (which forms the message of the
opening chapters of the book).
iv) Hosea was extremely critical of Israel’s existing political and religious institutions.
He taught that Israel had violated its claim for dependence on the Lord, and would
therefore be left barren and desolate; in essence, it would find itself again in the
b) [SLIDE 13] Outline.
i) The book has two major sections:
(1) Chapters 1–3 contain a long passage that describes Hosea’s marriage as an
allegory of the Lord’s relationship to Israel.
(2) Chapters 4–14 contain prophetic speeches that allude to the chaotic days
following the fall of Israel and the Assyrian captivity.
c) [SLIDE 14] Like Amos, Hosea spoke out in condemnation of Israel’s immorality, greed,
and injustice:
Hear the word of the LORD, O people of Israel;
for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or loyalty,
and no knowledge of God in the land.
Swearing, lying, and murder,
and stealing and adultery break out;

bloodshed follows bloodshed. (NRSV Hosea 4:1–2.)
d) Because of their wickedness and disloyalty, Hosea prophesied that God would use the
Assyrians as a tool to mete out punishment:

―Break out‖ could also refer to the people using violence against each other; the translation is debatable.
The textual problems in Hosea are greater than any other book in the Old Testament. The two Hebrew texts on which all
English translations are based—the Aleppo and Leningrad Codices, produced in the 9th and 10th centuries A.D., respectively—
have many scribal errors. Many other Hebrew and Greek manuscripts have textual variants, as do the Dead Sea Scrolls (among
which only fragments of Hosea remain). Many of the textual problems in Hosea are so difficult that the various English
translations frequently differ among themselves in the rendering of numerous passages.
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Set the trumpet to your lips!

One like a [bird of prey]
is over the house of the Lord,
because they have broken my covenant,
and transgressed my law.
Israel cries to me,
“My God, we—Israel—know you!”
Israel has spurned the good;
the enemy shall pursue him. (NRSV Hosea 8:1–3.)
i) After Israel was overthrown by the Assyrians, Hosea further prophesied that her
people would become ―wanderers among the nations‖ (Hosea 9:17).
e) But, also like Amos, there were prophecies of restoration and reconciliation. In one
particularly moving passage, the Lord compared his relationship to Israel to a husband
whose wife has been unfaithful:
For their mother hath played the harlot:

she that conceived them hath done shamefully:
for she said, I will go after my lovers,
that give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax,
mine oil and my drink.
Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns,
and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.
And she shall follow after her lovers,
but she shall not overtake them;
and she shall seek them,
but shall not find them:
then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband;
for then was it better with me than now.
Therefore, behold, I will allure
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak comfortably unto her.
And I will give her her vineyards from thence,
and the valley of Achor
for a door of hope:
and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth,
and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi [“my
husband”]; and shalt call me no more Baali [“my master”].

(KJV Hosea 2:5–7, 14–16.)

Literally, ―A horn to your gums.‖ This would be a shofar, or ram’s horn, sounding the alarm to warn a city of an
approaching army.
The Hebrew רשנ (nesher) is alternatively translated ―eagle‖ (NET, NASB, NIV, HCSB, JPS TANAKH) or ―vulture‖
(NRSV, ESV) in various English versions. Since the NRSV, quoted here, renders it ―vulture,‖ I’ve bracketed the generic ―bird of
prey‖ so as to eliminate confusion over the difference with the KJV.
i.e., whore or prostitute.
The Hebrew word here, היתפמ (paw-thaw’) means ―to persuade, entice, or seduce.‖
This phrase is a play on words in Hebrew. The valley of Achor, a site just east of the Dead Sea, is where the Israelites
suffered a significant military defeat because one individual, Achan, tried to hide precious objects that had been taken in battle
(Judges 7). Because Israel encountered ―trouble‖ in this valley, it was called ―the Valley of Trouble,‖ or achor in Hebrew. In
Hosea 2:15, the Lord promises that the ―Valley of Trouble‖ will become ―a Door of Hope,‖ meaning that the lands restored to
the Israelites will no longer cause them difficulty, but will be a blessing.
This is another play on words. The restored Israelites would no longer worship the pagan god, Baal. Instead, they would
worship the true God of the covenant, just as a beloved wife would call her spouse by the intimate term ―my husband‖ instead
of the formal ―my master‖ (Baal means ―master‖).
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Micah Week 17, Page 9
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f) Ultimately, what the Lord demanded of Israel through Hosea was the same message
that Amos delivered:
For I desired mercy [steadfast love; faithfulness], and not sacrifice;
and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (KJV Hosea 6:6.)
i) The outward offerings of the Israelites were not nearly as important as their
faithfulness and loyalty—the KJV mistranslates this as ―mercy‖—and their
acknowledgment of him as their God.
4) Jonah.
a) [SLIDE 15] Biography.
i) Jonah is unique among the Book of the Twelve.
(1) Rather than containing his personal writings, prophecies, or teachings, Jonah is
mostly a prose narrative
about the prophet.
(2) And it uses Jonah as a negative example. This would be like us basing a lesson on
a story about Thomas S. Monson smoking behind the barn when he was a boy.

ii) The book of Jonah itself tells us nothing of Jonah or when he prophesied, but he is
mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25. From this single verse we gather:
(1) He was a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel.
(2) He was active during the reign of Jeroboam II, making him a contemporary of
Amos and Hosea.
(3) His story took place sometime around or before 788 B.C., when Jeroboam II came
to power.

(4) He was from Gath Hepher, a small village near Nazareth.
(5) He prophesied (correctly) that Jeroboam II would recapture certain border lands
from Syria.
iii) The superscription (Jonah 1:1–3) provides us with the context for the story.

(1) [SLIDE 16] Geography.

The chapters 1, 3 and 4 are written in prose; chapter 2 is a poetic psalm.
Of course I’m making up this example.
Since Jonah is mentioned as an active, accepted prophet just after Jeroboam II’s coronation, his experience in Nineveh
likely took place before that time, perhaps during the reign of the Assyrian king Adad-nirari III (811–783 B.C.). If the events of
the book of Jonah took place later, the terminus would be 745 B.C., when the Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser III (reigned 745–
727 B.C.) began their aggressive military expansion.
Because of some of the difficulties the Book of Jonah presents (primarily the idea of a man living for three days inside a
fish and the entire city of Nineveh repenting at the command of an Israelite prophet), there has been vigorous debate about the
historicity of its account. Some have preferred to see the story as a moral parable, taking an actual historical prophet (Jonah)
and placing him into a fictional story meant to convey a moral.
In 1922, President Charles W. Penrose, writing on behalf of the First Presidency, admitted that the story of Jonah could be
an ancient parable designed to teach a moral lesson, and it ―is of little significance as to whether Jonah was a real individual or
one chosen by the writer of the book‖ of Jonah to illustrate the principles it sets forth. Charles W. Penrose, letter to Joseph W.
McMurrin, 31 October 1922; quoted in Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints,
1890–1930 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 283.
The great 20th century Christian writer C.S. Lewis believed the story of Jonah to be ―a moral romance, a quite different
kind of thing from, say, the account of King David or the New Testament narratives, not pegged, like them, into any historical
situation.‖ Lewis, letter to Corbin Carnell, 4 April 1953 (http://www.crivoice.org/lewisbib.html).
For a fair examination of this subject from the perspective of an evangelical Christian, see Josh Gelatt, ―Is Jonah a Whale
of a Tale?‖, joshgelatt.com, 29 August 2007 (http://www.joshgelatt.com/2007/08/is-jonah-whale-of-tale.html).
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(a) Nineveh, on the eastern bank of the Tigris, was the last capital city of Assyria
and one of the oldest cities in the world.

(b) Joppa is a seaport that sits on the Mediterranean coast and was part of
northern Israel at the time.

(c) Tarshish is off the map, far across the Mediterranean Sea to the west.
(i) It hasn’t been precisely identified, but it could possibly be a seaport in
southwest Spain, or may refer to distant Mediterranean coastlands in
general, or possibly just ―the open sea.‖
(ii) The idea here is that Jonah was leaving for the ends of the known world, in
precisely the opposite direction of Nineveh.
(2) According to Jonah 1:1–3, what was Jonah’s motive? Why did he flee?
(a) The reason isn’t given in these first three verses. It has intentionally been
omitted to build suspense. We will be told the answer, but not until later.
b) [SLIDE 17] We’re all familiar with the story: A great storm arose, and Jonah convinced
the sailors that he was to blame and must be thrown overboard (Jonah 1:4–16).
i) One observation: Note the piety of the pagan sailors, compared to Jonah’s
(1) When the lot fell on Jonah, he confessed that he worshipped Jehovah, ―the God
of heaven, [who] hath made the sea and the dry land‖ (Jonah 1:9). (That is a
powerful God!)
(2) At first the men refused to cast him overboard; they were afraid that they would
offend Jonah’s God even more by taking Jonah’s life. Eventually Jonah managed
to convince them, and they prayed that Jehovah would not hold them guilty for
their action. (Jonah 1:10–14).
(3) After Jonah was gone, the storm abated, and the men offered sacrifices and made
vows to Jonah’s God.
(4) Jonah, the prophet of Israel, had been disobedient to God, and had even tried to
flee from him. On the other hand the sailors, who were non-Israelite pagans,
were respectful and devout to a foreign God.
c) The Lord provided
a large fish to swallow Jonah, who was trapped for three days and
nights (Jonah 1:17–2:10).
i) Jonah offered a prayer in the form of a psalm, in which he compared his experience
in the fish with being in the grave.
(1) Jonah said that he was in ―the belly of Sheol‖ (KJV ―hell‖), the underworld where
the spirits of the dead go to dwell. Sheol was believed to be beneath the land and
the mountains. (Jonah 2:2, 6.)
(2) Note the hint of resurrection in Jonah 2:6 (cf. Matthew 12:40), where Jonah said
Jehovah has ―brought up my life from the Pit‖ (KJV ―corruption‖).

Nineveh is first mentioned in Genesis 10:11, predating the time of Abraham.
Today, Joppa is known as Jaffa, and is part of the city of Tel-Aviv.
The KJV reading ―the LORD had prepared a great fish‖ is misleading. The Hebrew word here (הנמ / minnah) does not
mean that the fish was a special creation just for Jonah; it simply means that the Lord provided, appointed, or arranged for
the fish to be there when Jonah was thrown overboard. There’s no indication from the text that the fish was unique.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Old Testament: Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Micah Week 17, Page 11
© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
d) Having delivered Jonah from the fish’s stomach, the Lord repeated his command to go
to Nineveh. This time Jonah obeyed. (Jonah 3:1–3.)
i) The three days’ journey (3:3) was not how long it took to get to Nineveh (it’s much
longer than that), but how long it would take to cross the city.

e) Jonah finally delivered his one oracle (Jonah 3:4–10).
i) ―Yet‖ means ―at the end of‖ 40 days. Of course, the people from the king on down
repented. (I love the image of even dressing the animals in sackcloth and ashes!)
ii) Jonah 3:9 makes it appear that the king didn’t know whether the prophecy was
conditional or not, but he acted on the assumption or hope that it was.

iii) The KJV’s ―God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them‖
(Jonah 3:10) is not a good translation at all. Better would be ―God changed his mind
concerning the judgment with which he had threatened them.‖

f) Finally we get to the reason why Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh in the first place
(Jonah 4:1–3)
i) It wasn’t because he was scared to go deep into enemy territory. And he wasn’t angry
now because he was embarrassed that his prophecy didn’t come true. Those are
natural emotions for one in his position to have, but it’s not the point of the text.
ii) The prophets of Israel (like Amos and Hosea) had announced that God would use the
Assyrians to judge Jonah’s people and take them into exile.
Jonah knew all too well
that’s God’s nature is to be gracious and love all his children. He suspected that God
would forgive the Ninevites if they repented, but Jonah didn’t want them to be
forgiven; he really wanted God to destroy them!
(1) Jonah’s confession that the Lord is ―slow to anger‖ (Jonah 4:2) is an interesting
idiom; in Hebrew it is literally ―long of nostrils.‖ But he isn’t saying God has a big
nose. The word for ―anger‖ in Hebrew refers to the nostrils, which flare when one
is angry. So being ―long in nostrils‖ means to be slow to anger.
g) The whole thing is tied together by the gourd incident (Jonah 4:4–11). The Lord caused
a plant to grow that gave Jonah shade; the Lord then killed the plant, and Jonah was
i) Jonah had this compassion for the gourd after it withered; yet he wanted God to
slaughter 120,000 people who don’t know any better, and innocent animals besides?

The word translated ―corruption‖ in KJV Jonah 2:6 is תחשמ (shachath), which refers to a pit (in general) or the Pit (the
world of the dead). It appears 23 times in the Old Testament, where the KJV renders it pit (14×), corruption (4×), destruction
(2×), ditch (2×), or grave (1×).
It appears that the author was not personally familiar with Nineveh. The reference could be to the entire region
surrounding the city, as the city itself was only 8 miles in circumference.
The LDS footnote in Jonah 3:3 explains that ―an exceeding great city‖ is literally ―a great city to God‖ in Hebrew. This is
true, but that phrase is often used in the Old Testament to refer to something that is large or important. See Genesis 23:6
(―mighty prince‖); 30:8 (―great wrestlings‖); Exodus 9:28 (―mighty thunderings‖); 1 Samuel 14:15 (―great trembling‖); Psalm
36:6 (―great mountains‖); 80:10 (―goodly cedars‖).
The JST takes away the king’s uncertainty on the point. The JST frequently changes passages that speak of God
This brings up a fascinating question: Did God sincerely intend to destroy Nineveh, and then change his mind? Or did
he foreknow that Nineveh would repent, but not tell the whole truth when he told Jonah that he would destroy it? This leads to
the philosophical issue of the extent of God’s foreknowledge. For a review of this subject (which includes the story of Jonah),
see Doctrine and Covenants lesson 19, pages 7–10 (http://bit.ly/ldsarcdc19).
See Hosea 9:3; 11:5; Amos 5:27.
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ii) The story ends with the Lord questioning Jonah’s compassion. We don’t hear
Jonah’s reply. This is done on purpose: It is up us, the readers, to respond for
ourselves to the Lord’s call for mercy and forgiveness.
5) Micah.
a) We now move from the northern kingdom of Israel to the southern kingdom of Judah.
b) [SLIDE 18] Biography.
i) The superscription (Micah 1:1) tells us that Micah came from Moresheth, a small
town southwest of Jerusalem, and that he prophesied in the days of Jotham, Ahaz,
and Hezekiah, kings of Judah whose reigns spanned 759–687 B.C.
ii) References in Micah’s writings to the fall of Israel in 722 B.C. (Micah 1:6) and to the
Assyrian campaign against Judah in 701 B.C. put Micah in the final quarter of the 8th
century. This makes him a contemporary with Isaiah.
(1) Indeed, it seems likely that Micah knew Isaiah, because they both quote the same
prophecy of the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem (compare Micah 4:1–3
with Isaiah 2:1–4).

iii) Micah is the only prophet to be quoted with attribution by another Old Testament
prophet. About 100 years later, Jeremiah prophesied that Jerusalem would be
destroyed, and the elders of the city quoted Micah 3:12 in support of Jeremiah’s
prophecy (Jeremiah 26:18). So from this we know that Micah’s prophecy was already
accepted by Jews as authoritative before the Babylonian exile.
iv) His name means ―who is like God?‖, a question in the sense that God is unique in his
perfection and holiness.
c) [SLIDE 19] Outline.
i) The book of Micah has three major parts:
(1) Chapters 1–3 are oracles of judgment.
(2) Chapters 4–5 are oracles of hope.
(3) Chapters 6–7 are oracles of judgment, followed by hope.
d) [SLIDE 20] Micah indicated that the sins of Israel had come to Judah, like an open
wound that infected another person (Micah 1:6–9).
e) For her sins, Micah prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed and the people of
Judah would be taken captive into Babylon (Micah 3:12; 4:10).

i) But Micah also prophesied that Judah would be gathered and restored to her lands
(Micah 2:12–13) and that the town of Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the
Davidic Messiah who would rule over Israel (Micah 5:2).
f) Like Amos and Hosea, Micah brought a message of the importance of ethics over
outward performance:

Did Micah quote Isaiah? Or did Isaiah quote Micah? Or did they both quote a common source that was older than both
of them? We don’t know.
Micah 4:10 is a pretty significant prophecy, because it mentions Babylon by name 100 years before it overthrew Assyria
and became the dominant regional power. Unlike some other Old Testament prophecies, the mentioning of Micah by name in
Jeremiah prevents critics from claiming that his prophecy was written after the fact.
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© 2014, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
“With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (NRSV Micah 6:6–8.)
6) [SLIDE 21] So what is the ―take-home message‖ from these four books of prophecy?
a) The Lord is not nearly as concerned with outward acts of devotion as he is with justice,
mercy, faithfulness, and purity of heart.
b) He also calls on us to show compassion for the poor, weak, and disenfranchised in our
society, as well as forgiveness and love for our enemies.
c) Finally, he has promised that he will restore Israel, forgive her sins, and reconcile with
7) [SLIDE 22] The next 5 lessons will be our in-depth study of Isaiah.
a) Next week will be the introduction to the series. Your reading assignment is Isaiah
chapters 1–6.

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