The Authenticity of Jonah - Article 1 of 2

  by Robert Dick Wilson

Taken from: The Princeton Theological Review Vol. 16 No. 2 (1918)


Article I.

In this and succeeding articles it is the intention of the author to investigate the premises of the Higher Criticism of the Old Testament, especially in the sphere of philology. Many of these premises were propounded in the i8th century and have long been so venerable because of their age and the use that has been made of them by successive generations of Biblical critics, that cine feels like a Vandal in attempting to assail their supposedly firm foundations. Nevertheless, the war will be carried into Africa and if possible Carthage itself will be destroyed. The weapons will be the grammars, concordances, and dictionaries, especially of the Semitic languages, the ancient versions of the Scriptures, and the literary products of any age with which the writer is acquainted. As far as in him lies, the author will keep him self out of sight. It will be a real logomachy and a battle of the books; but it will be an offensive-defensive and a counter attack with all the force that can be mustered. No opprobrious names will be called and no intentionally unfair advantage will be taken. The object is the confirm those who still believe in the trustworthiness of the divine oracles and to convince and convert the wavering and the disbelieving; and to do all this fairly, logically, and scientifically. If the writer fails in his attempt, his conviction is that the failure will be due, not to the weakness of his cause, nor to the paucity of the resources at his command, nor to the strength of the opponent's position; but to some defect in his plan, or mishandling of his material.

The method to be pursued in these articles will be to state in their own words the premises of the critics and the evidence given in support of their premises; then, to present further evidence tending to show that the premises are not justified by the evidence that has been produced in their favor; and lastly, to state the conclusions which seem to follow from the evidence.

This article is one of two treating of the objections to the authenticity of the book of Jonah.

I. The Objections Stated.

On page 322 of Dr. Driver's Literature of the Old Testament, it is said that the Book of Jonah cannot "have been written until long after the life time of Jonah himself." This is said to appear first of all "from the style, which has several Aramaisms, or other marks of a later age." These marks are the following words:

"(1) ספינה  Jonah 1:5 [deck or ship].

(2) התעשת Jonah 1:6 "to think (— Heb. חשב, Isa. 40:18) cf. עשתנת Ps. 146:4."

(3) ש for אשר Jonah 1:7, 8.

(4) שתק Jonah 1:11, 12 Prov. 26:20, Ps. 107:30.

(5) מוּה Jonah 2:1, "to prepare, set apart" as Dan. 1:10, 11. 1 Ch. 9:29 and in Aramaic.

(6) שעם Jonah 3:7 [decree] as in Aramaic, Ezr. 6:14, 7:23.

(7) עטל Jonah 4:10 "to labor" 4:10 (in ordinary Hebrew יגע ).

(8) באשר לטמי Jonah 1:8 on account of what to whom, "for whose cause."

(9) The title "God of heaven" as in Neh. 1:5 and other post-exilic writers."

Of these marks Dc Wette-Schrader in their Introduction to the Old Testament1 give six marks that are the same as those iii L. O. T. and add six; to-wit; (10) רב Jonah 1:6, (11) רבו Jonah 4:11, (12) העביר Jonah 3:6, (13) ל Jonah 4:6, and (14) קרא, Jonah 3:2.

Cornill2 gives five marks, that are the same as Driver's and three that differ from his; whereas he agrees in four with De Wette-Schrader and adds three new ones. Cornill, De Wette-Schrader and Driver agree only in four marks, i.e. in the words for "ship," "think," "prepare" and in the use of the relative. The words added by Cornill are: (15) חשב ל Jonah 1:4, (16) קריאה Jonah 3:2, and (17) טעם "to taste" Jonah 3:7.

II. The Evidence.

The evidence given above will be examined in the order of the specifications.

1. Sefina is a noun from the root ספן found six times in the Old Testament in the sense of cover, to-wit, in De. 33"22, Je. 22:14, 1 K. 7:3, 7, 6:9, and Hab. 1:4—all in what the critics call the older literature. Jonah apparently preserves the correct derivative form of the word and means by it a part of the ship that is covered, i.e. the covered part, or "below decks." For ship he employs אניה in 1:3, 4, 5 the ordinary word in the Old Testament for ship, being found thirty-two times in all. In Gen. 49:13 and Deut. 28:68, Onkelos renders it by sefina. The Pseudo-Jonathan has sefina in Gen. 49:13, and 'ilpa in Deut. 28:68. The Syriac uses 'elpa as well as sefina. The former comes from the Babylonian 'ilpu and the latter probably from the Hebrew safan. "to cover," or a Phoenician equivalent. Its original sense, therefore, would be a decked or covered ship. The root sefan is not found in Syriac and in the Aramaic of the Targums and Talmund it means (to quote Dahnan) achten, befruchtet, gereinight. It is found several times in the Sachau papyri.

Hence, derivation, use and time of its employment elsewhere all favor its independentorigin in Hebrew and permit its employment in the lifetime of Jonah as well as in Sqq or 300 B.C.

2. התעשת Jonah 1:5 "to think" is found but here in the Old Testament, though its derivative is found in Ps. 146:4. The root does not occur in Assyrian, Syriac, Mandaic, or Arabic. It is only found in Aramaic in the three dialects which were used by Jews who adopted Aramaic, e.g. in the Targum of Jonathan on the Prophets and in the Aramaic of the Egyptian papyri.3 It would seem from this that the word, with scores of other good Hebrew words, was probably taken over from the Hebrew into the Aramaic by the Jews. The word does not occur at all in Syriac, though that language has sixteen defferent words to express the idea Of thinking. Jewish Aramaic emplOys it but very seldom and has four other words to denote the idea. New Hebrew does not have the word at all. The common word in Aramaic, as in Heb., is חשב What the diRerentiation between the two words may have been we do not know. The Targum of Onkdos never uses עשת; but renders חשב eighteen times by the same word, three times by 'illif and once by dn. The Samaritan Targum always transliterates the Hebrew חשב, and never uses Jonah's word. In the Sachau papyri we find also ḥekam and istekal in the sense "to think."

3. As to the use of שׁ before 700 B.C. to denote the relative pronoun, the following may be said:

(1) It is not Aramaic, never being found in any dialect, age, or document, except twice in the inscription of Nerab from the 7th century B.C.4

(2) It is the usual relative in Assyrio-Babylonian , from the earliest document to the latest.

(3) If we follow the critics in their dating of the component parts of the Old Testament, it is found in Jud. 5, which they usually call lthe earliest document in the Old Testament and in Ecclesiastes, which they commonly date as one of the latest,5 and in Gen. 6:3, which belongs to J (id. 43) and in Gen. 49:10 which Driver gives to J.6

(4) If we follow the traditional view of the date of the books, it is found in the Pent., Jud., Kings, Eccles., Song, Psalms, Job, Chron. and Ezra.7

(S) It is the usual relative in the Hebrew of the Talmud, having almost completely displaced אשרa8

(6) It is found at times in Phoenician in place of the more usual אשׁ. a9

(7) According to all the evidence, therefore, שׁ may may have been used in any Hebrew document from the earliest to the latest, and is actually found in documents of all ages. Why it has been . used in such an erratic manner, cannot be explained. That it has been so used is certain; and hence that its use in any given document cannot determine the date of that document, is also certain.

(8) As to the phrase באשר לטי a10 several pertinent remarks may be made:

(a) The whole sentence purports to be a quotation of what the sailors said to Jonah. These sailors may have been Jews, or Phoenicians, or Cypriote, or Greeks; but it may" justly be concluded that like sailors in general they were uneducated men and that like Marryatt's and Cooper's tars, they had their own peculiar lingo. It is not necessary to suppose that they spoke the language of the prophets and of the recorders of the royal archives in which the books like Hosea and the Kings are written. 

(b) What is said makes good sense: "On account of what (cir whom) is this evil to us?" No one certainly can misunderstand it. It is admitted that such a phrase is found nowhere else in the Old Testament; but neither is the idea. And if the idea is not found elsewhere, will some one of the critics of Jonah, or of the sailors, tell us how it could be expressed better? It is clear, precise, and suitable to the situatiom

(9) The other phrase meaning the same thing, viz. בשלטי, is probably the language of the author. At any rate, it is a variation such as we often find in all dialectic dialogues.

(10) As to the שׁ in chapter 4:7, its use may have been due to the fact that Jonah was imitating the Assyrian usage. At the time he was overlooking Nineveh and waiting for its anticipated doom. Besides, he must have known Assyrian, or he wOuld scarcely have been able to preach to the Ninevites. Like many modern critics, he may have shown his amour propre by showing that he was a connoisseur of Assyrian and no mere ciceroni or dragonum.

4 שׁתק is found in the Old Testament outside of Jonah only in Prov. 26:20, Ps. 107:30. In neither of these places is it used in connection with the sea. " As to the use of the word as an indication of the age of a document, Prov. 26:20 belongs to the proverbs that were transcribed by the men of Hezekiah and which Dr. Driver says "were reputed in Hezekiah's age to be ancient."11 Since Hezekiah was born about the time that Jonah died, we leave it to the critics to show how a word used in a document reputed to be old in Hezekiah's age could not have been used in the lifetime of Jonah.12

It is to be observed, further, that Jon. 1:11, 12 is the only place where the idea of the sea being at rest is ever mentioned in the Old Testament, although the word for sea occurs 362 times and its plural 3o times. It is evident, therefore, that no one can know that šathaḳ was not at all times the proper word in Hebrew to express the quieting of the sea after a storm.

5. פנה occurs twenty-five times in the Old Testament. In its meaning "to number, measure, reckon" it is found eleven times, viz. Gen. 13:16bis, Num. 23:10, Is. 53:12, Jer. 33:13, 2 Sa. 24:1, Dan. 5:28, 2 Ch. 5:5, Ecc. 1:15, Ps. 89:13, and Ps. 146:5. In the sense of "prepare, apportion, set apart, or appoint" it occurs eleven times also, viz. Jer. 2:1, 4:6, 7, 8, 1 Chron. 9:29, and Dan. 1:5, 10, 11, 2:24, 49 and 3:12. In other senses, it is found in Job 7:3, Is. 65:11 and 1 K. 20:25. It will be observed:

(1) That it occurs in the second sense only in works admittedly written under Assyrian and Babylonian influences.

(2) The word is used in Assyrian in the second sense long before the time of Jonah exactly as it is employed in Jonah and Daniel.13

(3) It is not true that in the late works of the Old Testament it crowded out, or took the place of צוה and פקד; for the former is used in Chronicles 17 times; Ezra-Nehemiah, 10; Esther, 7; Prv., 14; Lev.-Num., 70; and the latter in Chronicles 8 times; Ezra-Nehemiah, once; Esther, once; Prov., 9; and Lev.-Num., 2. Whereas סנה occurs in Chronicles twice; Ezra-Nehemiah, no time; Esther, no time; Prv. two times; and Lev.-Num., once only, and that in the Balaam passage. In the Hebrew of Ecclesiasticus from 180 B.C. צוה is found six times, פקד nine times, and סנה three times, once perhaps in the sense of appoint. In the Zadokite-Fragments from a work written about 40 A.D., צוה occurs eleven times; פקר eleven; and סנה never occurs at all, in any sense.

(4) That Jonah and Daniel, under the influence of Aramaic, used סנה where the earlier Hebrew would have used צוה (as Dr. Driver asserts in L.O.T. 506) hardly seems possible in view of the fact that the translators of the Aramaic versions of the Pentateuch never render the latter by the former. The Aramaic Peḳad corresponded to the Hebrew צוה and is always used for it in Onkelos, and apparently in the other Targums, and in the Peshitto.

(5) Nor is it fair to say that Jonah uses מנה instead of an earlier פקד and that this is a sign of late date or of Aramaic influence. Whatever opinion we may hold with regard to the scholarship of the translators of the Old Testament into Aramaic, no one will be rash enough to say that they did not know the meaning of common Hebrew and Aramaic terms much better than is possible for the best of us today. Now, if Jonah used mana in the Aramaic sense, is it not remarkable that here in Jonah 2:1, and 4:6, 7, 8 the Targum of Jonathan should have rendered it by zammen to prepare, as we find it also in Jerome? The Syriac version has tayyeb in 2:1 and Peḳad in 4:7, 8, 9, reversing what Dr. Driver asserts with regard to the two words. Apparently, these translators thought that Jonah's mana did not exactly correspond to their conception of what the Aramaic mana meant.

(6) If we take the three verbs in the meanings "to command," "to oversee," and "to set apart," the distinction of synonyms in the writers of Old Testament Hebrew will be found to be clear and appropriate, whether the literature be early or late. According to Jonah, God "set apart" or "designated" a great fish to swallow Jonah, and he set apart a particular gourd to spring up and shelter him, and a worm and a dry east wind to smite it. Is not this more beautiful and appropriate than the ' more stately words for command and appoint especially when we are dealing with gourds, worms, and fish?

6. טעם is a common verb in Syriac in both the simple and causative stems, active and passive, and has at least nine derivatives in use; but in no case does it appear in the sense of decree or command. The same is true of the Arabic, the Mandean (at least in Norberg) and of the Samaritan Targum and Onkelos. Levy, in his Dictionary to the Targums and Talmud gives no example of its use in the sense of decree. Nor is it found in any Phoenician or Aramaic inscription. In the Biblical Aramaic a noun from this verb is used twenty-six times in the sense of decree. This, also, is its uniform meaning in the papyri from the colony of Jews at Elephantine. This meaning of the word seems to have been derived chiefly from the usus loquendi of the Assyrians. It is noteworthy that the Assyrians have the noun in the sense of command but not in that of taste; neither does the verb seem to have been used by them.

It will be noted, further, that the verb is found in 1 Sa. 14:24, 29, 43 and 2 Sa 3:25, 19:36, in the same sense as in Jonah 4:7, and that the noun in the sense of command is found in the Old Testament only in those works which are written under Assyrian or Babylonian influence, i.e. nine times in Daniel, nineteen in Ezra, and once in Jonah 4:7. In the Aramaic dialects and documents, also, it is found only in those written under Babylonian influence. The Aramaic-speaking Jewish colony at Elephantine in Egypt was founded before the time of Cambyses, perhaps by Nebuchadnezzar himself. At any rate, the number of names of Babylonian origin found in the papyri indicates that at some time the ' Jews of the colony had been under Babylonian dominion and influence. The noun in the sense of command occurs in the Sachau papyri in three places; first on page 44, line 22, of Sachau's work: Your ship-carpenters shall make the ship as the command has been made (sm) ; secondly in line 25 where the last clause of the preceding sentence recurs: and thirdly, on page 63: No further command will be given them (lit., Put to them).

7. Dr. Driver asserts that the use of עמל in 4: to indicates a late date and that the older Hebrew would have used יגע There is absolutely no proof in support of such an assertion; but the evidence shows that the author of Jonah used the only Hebrew word that would exactly express his meaning. The Hebrew has four words for "to work." The most general is עשׁה "to do or make," which is used in a few cases in the special sense of "work or labor," as in Ex. 5:9: "Let heavier work be laid upon the men that they may labor therein." Ex. 5:9 belongs to J (LOT 23) which dates before 750 B.C. (LOT 120). This sense is found also in Neh. 4:15. A second and more special term for work or labor is עבד , used also in J, as in Gen. 2:5, 15, 3:23, 4:2, 11, Ex. 5:18 and in E in Ex. 20:9, Prov. 12:11, 28:19, Is. 19:9, 30:24, Zech. 13:5, Ezek. 36:9, 34, 2 Chron. 2:18. The third, more specific still, is עטל. It is used in Prov. 16:26 which is in the part of Proverbs which is "generally referred to the golden days of the monarchy" (LOT, 405). It is found, also, in Ps. 137:1 and eight times in Ecclesiastes. The fourth word is יגע which is the most special of all and always involves the idea of weariness, or exhaustion. It is found in Prov. 23:4 and Jos. 7:3 (JE) only, of the works which the critics place in the period before 700 B.C. (LOT, 1O6, and 405). In the period from 700 B.C. to the end of the captivity it occurs in Jos. 24:13, 2 Sa. 23:10, Hab. 2:13, Jer. 45:5 and 51:58, Lam. 5:5, and twelve times in Is. 40-66. In the actual or alleged post-captivity literature, it is found in Mal. 2:17bis, Ecc. 10:15, job 9:29 and Pss. 6:6 and 69:3. The conclusion from the above induction of facts is that every one of the four verbs was used in each of the three periods into which the Hebrew literature is divided by the critics.

If we examine the use of the nouns for work, we find that the same is true. מעשה occurs in Hosea, Amos, Micah, in Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; in Haggai, Chronicles, the Psalms, and in nearly every other work. עבודה in the sense of work is found, among other places, in Gen. 30:26 (J) and 29:27 (E), in Is. 28:21; and in Ps. 104:23; and in Neh. 3:5, 10:37. עטל found in Gen. 41:51 (E), Num. 23:21( ?), Deut. 26:7, Jud. 10;16, Prov. 24:2, 31:7, Is. 10:1, 53:11, 9:4, Hab. 13:13, Jer. 20:18, and eight times in Job, fourteen times in the Psalms, and twenty-two times in Ecclesiastes. יגיע is found in Gen. 31:42 (E) and Hos. 12:8 from the early period; in Deut. 28:33, Jer. 3:24, 20:5, Ezek. 23:29, and Is. 45:14, 55:2 from the middle period; and in Hag. 1:11, Neh. 5:13, Job 10:3, 39:11, 16 and Pss. 78:46, 109:11 and 128:2 from the late period. All four verbs, or derivatives of the same, appear in the Hebrew of Ecclesiasticus. The noun עטל  is found two or three times and יגע and יגיע five times. Ben Sira distinguishes the two nouns in 11:11 when he says: "The labor (עטל) of the rich is to acquire wealth, and the overwork (יגיע) of the poor is for the needs of his family." In the Zadokite fragments verbs and nouns from the first two are found and יגע occurs twice; but עטל does not occur, either as noun or verb.

Singularly, the last two of these roots are found in Assyrian but not the first; and the second only in borrowed terms. In Arabic the second and third are common and used in a sense similar to that employed in Hebrew, and the fourth has the meaning "to be in pain."' In Syriac the second and third are common but the first and last do not occur. In Mandaic only the second is found in Norberg. In the Aramaic inscriptions, the verb עטל occurs only in the Building Inscription, from the time of Tiglath-Pileser III, who began to reign in 746 B.C. In the Sachau papyrus 55:2 we find both verb and noun עטל  in the sentence: "I have heard of the labor which thou hast done."

From the above data it will be seen:

(1) That any writer of Hebrew might have properly used any one of the four verbs or nouns for work at any period of the literature.

(2) That the word to which objection is made is the only one of the four that is found in Assyrian, Arabic, Aramaic and Hebrew. It was therefore, a primitive Semitic word and no argument as to the date of a document can be based on it; nor can it be said that one of the above four great families of Semitic languages borrowed it from the other.

(3) Even if it had been borrowed from the Aramaic by Jonah, it could have been borrowed as early as the middle of the eighth century, as the Bar Rekeb building inscription shows.

(4) That Dr. Driver's assertion that older Hebrew would have used יגע and later Hebrew עטל is controverted by the fact that Ecclesiasticus uses the former five times, thrice in the noun form and twice as a verb and the latter but three times: and by the fact that the Zadokite Fragments use יגע twice, but have not the other word at all.

(5) That the Targums of Onkelos and the Pseudo-Jonathan do not transliterate עטל (except Onkelos in Gen. 41:12) but render it by some form of לאה or סגף showing that the translators considered that the Aramaic word with the same radicals did not correspond exactly with the original Hebrew.

(6) Jonah may have labored at a gourd as the book says, but he could scarcely have become exhausted or weary with the exercise, as Dr. Driver implies.

8. באשׁר למי, "for whose cause"—See under 3, above.

9. The phrase "god of heaven" is not a sign of a late date. We must remember that Jonah uses the phrase in an answer to the presumably Phoenician sailors who had asked him to call upon his god 1:6, 8, and questioned him as to who he himself was. He replied: 1:9: "A Hebrew am I, and Jehovah the God of the heavens I revere, who made the sea and the dry land." The Phoenicians worshipped בעלשסם "the Lord of Heaven"14 In the Telel-Amarna letters Ishtar is called the "mistress of heaven."15 Tiglath-Pileser I (1100 B.C.) speaks of Shamash the judge of heaven16 and the phrase "gods of heaven" is found in the Sumerian texts17. Under the circumstances in which Jonah was placed, who could have made a more sensible and perspicuous response to the question of the sailors ?

10. רב החבל Jonah 1:6. This is the only place in which a captain of a ship is mentioned in the Old Testament. חכל Occurs five times in Ezekiel's account of Tyre, so that no , argument from the date can be made from this hapax legomenon. Rab is used in the O. T. in the sense of captain in the Assyrian title rabsaris, 2 Kgs. 18:17 and rab. tabbaḥim 2 Kgs. 25:8 and perhaps also in 2 Sa. 23:20 of the chief of the workmen. In Assyrian rab malaḥe chief of the sailors is found, as also in the Syriac version (rab malleḥe). The Targum Jonathan has Rrab sappane.

11. רבו for myriad is found in Hos. 23:7 from the 8th century B.C.

12. חעביר is found nowhere else in the O. T. nor in Aramaic, nor in Assyrian, in connection with a word for clothing. It is found in I Kings i5:12 in connection with Sodomites and in 2 Ch. i5:8 with idols; and frequently of the taking away of sins.

13. ל Jonah 4:6 introducing the accusative is found no where else with the verb used by Jonah except in Dan. 8:7 where it occurs with the participle. The employment of this ל before the pronominal object is not necessary in Aramaic, since in Dan. 3:29, and 6:15 the object is affixed to the infinitive. In the Psalms, which critics place late, at least 33 cases of the verb with the object occur and no one of them employs ל with the object. It is passing strange that such a reminiscer as Jonah is said to have been should have departed from all his predecessors and contemporaries in such a matter. As to Jonah's having imitated Daniel, it is clear that to have been imitated Daniel must have been written first. Therefore, if Jonah hails from the 5th century, Daniel must be at least a little earlier. Or, if Daniel was written in the 2nd century (to be exact, according to the critics, in June 164 B.C. or thereabout), then, Jonah must have been written at the earliest after 164 B.C. But as, according to the critics the canon of the prophets was closed before the writing of Ecclesiasticus i.e. at about i8o B.C., and since Ecclesiasticus mentions the Twelve as existing when he wrote, the theory of the critics as to the close of the prophetic canon would fall. One is tempted to think that in both Jonah and Daniel the ל has been doubled by dittography in the process of transmission. It is more probable, however, that the lo is used here, as frequently in Hebrew,18 like the ethical dative in Latin.

14. קרא is the most common word in Hebrew for proclaim and is used in 1 Kings 13:4, 32, 21:9, 12, Is. 30:7, Mic. 3:5, 6:9, Am. 4:5, Prov. 1:21, 8:1, Joel 4:9, Jeremiah 2:2, 36:9, Is. 40:5 and Ex. 32:5 (P). No other Hebrew or Aramaic word would have been suitable for Jonah's proclamation. He could not have used basar, for it ordinarily means to "proclaim or bring good tidings" as in 1 Sam. 31:9, 2 Sam. 4:10, 18:19, 31, 1 Chron. 10:9, Ps. 40:10, 68:12, Is. 60:2.19 The corresponding Arabic verb means "to announce good tidings," and the noun means "good news." In Syriac the root does not occur in this sense; but in the Aramaic of the Targums, it is generally used just as in Hebrew.20 In Assyrian, also, it is used of good tidings.21 The conclusion, therefore, is that Jonah in using קרא employed the usual and most appropriate word 'known to either Hebrews or Arameans with which to express his idea.

15. חשׁב ל Jonah 1:4, This is found no where else in this sense, either in Hebrew or in any other Semitic language. What standard of comparison have we for determining its date? (See further under 2 above).

16. קריאה Jonah 3:2 is found no where else in the O. T. Hence no argument for date can be based upon it. It is not found in any Aramaic dialect. The root is good Hebrew and also the form (Gesenius-Kautzsch 84 a, 1.)

17. On the verb cm see 14 above.


III Conclusions

1. Recapitulating the results of the above investigation of the words peculiar to Jonah, we find:

(1) That three of them שעם ,רב, and נה are found in Assyrian in the sense employed in Jonah. Since it is probable that Jonah knew Assyrian, seeing that his message was delivered to the people of Nineveh, it is easy to see how he may have come to use some Assyrian words and nuances in his writings.

(2) That one of them, שׁתק is used in a sense peculiar to Jonah, but exactly fitting to the connection, and that this word is apparently not used in this connection in any other Semitic language.

(3) That one of them, עמל, is a good Hebrew word and the most proper one to use in the place where it is employed.

(4) That one of them קריאה, is a good Hebrew form from a common Hebrew root; and that it is not found in Syriac.

(5) That two of them חשׁב and העביר are used in a sense not found anywhere else either in Hebrew, or in the cognate languages, and hence may have been used at one time as well as at another.

(6) That שֹׁׁ is found sporadically in all periods of Hebrew literature, that it is the ordinary relative in Assyrian; that it is found in Phoenician ; and that it occurs in Aramaic, but only in an inscription from the 7th century, B.C.

(7) That the use of the ל proves nothing as to the age of the document.

(8) That ספיגה is probably Phoenician, its root being found only in Hebrew; and that in Jonah it is used in its original and proper sense of hold or decked part of the ship.

(9) That עשׁת is rather a Hebrew word in Aramaic than an Aramaic word in Hebrew, seeing that outside of Jonah it is found only in Aramaic documents which were written by Jews who had adopted that language.

2. That Jonah should have a number of hapax legomena is no proof of late date. Six such words are found in Jonah, it is true: but Hosea has twentyfive of them; Micah, thirteen; and Amos, twenty-four. Are they also late ?

3. That Jonah should have a few words used by him in senses found elsewhere only in Aramaic is no proof of late date.. Hosea has 65 words which occur in the Old Testament five times or less, twenty-one of which are found in Aramaic; Amos has fifty, of which fifteen are found in Aramaic, and Jonah fifteen of which five are found in Aramaic. That is, of the sporadic Hebrew words found in Hosea, 32 per cent occur in Aramaic; of those in Amos 3o per cent; and of those in Jonah 33 per cent.

4. The use of a few words in Jonah in a sense found no where else in the Old Testament, or even in all Semitic literature, cannot be used as a proof of date. Milton in Samson Agonistes alone uses 54 words beginning with a that are not found in any other of his poetical works.22 Since Dr. Driver wrote his LOT., documents from the 3rd to the 6th century B.C. have been found which contain at least seven of the words discussed above.

5. Many words found in Jonah do not occur in any of the Psalms. This is true not merely of the hapax legomena but of the words "raging" 1:15, "to be faint" 4:4, "strength" 3:5, "on the morrow" 4:7, "tempestuous" 1:11, "to vomit" 2:11, "robe" 3:6, and others, all of which are found in the literature which the critics assign to the period before 700 B.C.

6. Words in Jonah are used in special senses not found in any of the Psalms. Such are "captain" 1:6, "to row" 1:13, '"aging" 1:15, "decree" 3:7.

7. On the other hand, 78 out of 85 verbs found in Jonah are used in the same sense and form in the writings which the critics admit to have been written in or before the 8th century. Of the seven remaining, three are found in senses never found elsewhere, one is found in a sense met with in Assyrian as well as Aramaic, the root of the fifth occurs in J, the sixth is a hapax legomenon, and the seventh is found in 2 Sam. 22.

Of the 122 nouns, all but eleven occur in writings antidating 700 B.C., and of these eleven, three are hapax legomena, three are in Ezekiel, two in Assyrian, two are found in the early literature but are used in a special sense by Jonah, and the last occurs in 2 Sam. 22:5.

Of the 43 particles, all are found in the literature placed by the critics before 700 B.C.

8. Without counting pronouns, Jonah used 85 verbs, 122 nouns, and 43 particles. For one hundred and fifty years the critics have been searching this vocabulary for evidence of a late date. Up to the present, they have found at most, five nouns, two particles, and nine verbs, which are either peculiar to Jonah, or used by him in a sense different from that found elsewhere in the Old Testament. In Milton's 'poetical works there are nearly 600 such words beginning with a alone. Every book and almost every chapter of the Old Testament has as large a percentage of such words as Jonah has.23

9. After 200 years of thorough investigation the critics can find only about a dozen words which in their opinion indicate a date later than 700 B.C. ; and as to these indicative words they are agreed only in the case of the two verbs עשׁת and סגה, the noun for ship (ספינה) and the particle שׁ

Having finished the examination of the linguistic evidence produced by the critics and the summation of the results thereof, we confidently leave the verdict to the jury of our readers, believing that they will agree that the cast; against the authenticity of the Book of Jonah, so far as it is based upon linguistic premises, has not been proven.

Robert Dick Wilson.




1) Lehrbuch der historisch-kritischen Einleihmg in die kanonischen und apokryphischen bcher des Alten Testaments, p. 464

2) Introduction to the Canonical Books of the Old Testament, 351.  

3) Thus in the Sachau papyri, p. 151. "(My son) whom I have nurtured think (עשת) on me."; p. 157, "do as thou thinkest" (active stem) ; p. 4, "If it seems good to our lord, think (אתעשׁת) upon the temple and build it."

4) Lidzbarski: Nordsemitische Epigraphik, 371, 445, and Ephemeris I 366.

5) Cornill: Introduction pp. 160 and 452.

6) L. O. T. p. 17.

7) שׁ  is found in Gen. 6:3 and 49:10, both attributed by the critics to J., whose date they all place before 750 B.C. It is found also in Jud. 5:7 (which is considered by many to be the earliest, or among the earliest, compositions in the Old Testament) and in Jud 6:17, 7:32 7:26, and in 2 K.6:11, Job 19:29, Song of Songs 1:6, 7, 5:2, 6:5, Lam. 2:15, 16, 4:9, 5:18, Ezra 8:10, 1 Chron. 5:20, 27:27, Pss. 122:3, 4 123:2, 124:1, 2, 6, 129:6, 7, 133:2, 3, 135:2, 8 10, 136:23, 137:8, 9, 144:15, and 146:3, 5 and 68 times in Ecclesiastes. It does not occur in the Hebrew of Ecclesiasticus nor in 'that of the Zadokite Fragments; nor in Daniel or Esther; nor in Psalms 44, 74 and 79, which the critics generally think to be from the Maccabcan times; nor in Psalms 54, 55, 60, 62, 64, 71, 76, 77, 86, 88, 89, 90, 98, 102, 116, 118, 142, 143, nor in any of the others which Reuss assigns to the Maccabean period and in only five of those that Cheyne assigns to the same time. If those writers of the Old Testament books could only have shown some consistency in the use of this little relative, how easy it might have been to determine the date of the document by means of its evidence; or, if the critics could only agree to put either early or late all documents having it; or if those provoking Assyrians, Babylonians, Phoenicians; Carthaginians and Nerabites had never used it at all, or had all of them used it always! It seems that with the evidence before us at present we must admit that no argument from the use of שׁ can be made as to the date of a document. It may indicate that a document was written under Northern Palestinian or Assyrian influences. The idiosyncrasy of the writer, mare and poet's license, my account for its frequent use in Ecclesiastes and in some of the psalms. One might be pardoned for suggesting that there may be some humor in the changes in the text, che author wishing to exhibit the differences between the Hebrew and the Phoenician; or it may represent the serious attempt of two foreigners to make themselves understood.

8) Sec article on Mishnaic Hebrew by Rev. Moses Segal in the Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. xx. 659.

9) Lidzbarski, Nordsemitsche Epigmphik, p. 227 and Ephemeris I, 360, 366, II., 410.

10) See number 8 below.

11) L. O. T. p. 407.

12) It is singular that the Aramaic versions of Jonah do not render this verb by shathak but the Targum of Jonathan by the Aphel of nh and the Peshitto by the Peal of shel. The Arabic renders it by sakana. shathak is found in the Sachau papyrus, p. 116:11 in the sense of keeping silence.

13) Thus "thou hast allotted disease" (ZA, V. 67, 42 tumanxima murṣa) "whom the king had designated" (ZA, VI. 234,11 sha sharru . . . umannu.)

14) Lidzbarski: Nordsemitsche Epigraphik, pp. X53, 39.

15) Winckler: Tell-el-Amarna Letters, No. 20:26.

16) Lotz: Tiglalh-Pileser I. 7.

17) See Muss-Arnolt under Shamū.

18) Gescnius-Kautzsch Heb. Gr. 119, s.

19) The only exceptions to this use of "good tidings" are 1 Sam. 4:17 and 2 Sam. 18:20. In 1 King 1:42 and Is. 52:2, the idea of good is strengthened by the use of ṭb.

20) E.g., of good news in Num. 25:12, Ps. 96:2, Is. 49:9; of bad news Gen. 41:26, 27.

21) E.g., in Annals of Ashurbanipal x. 68 "good tidings of the conquest of my enemies was announced to me continually." KB. II. 232.

22) See the Lexicon to the English Poetical Works of John Milton, by Laura E. Lockwood, Ph.D.

23) Hosea has 14 words occurring in it alone in the Old Testament and not found in New Hebrew or Aramaic; Amos has ten; Micah, eleven. Of words occurring 5 times or under in the Old Testament, Hosea has 65, Amos So, Micah 49, Nahum 36, Habakkuk 34, and Zephaniah 31.