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Snoring: Biblical and Otherwise (The Real Reason for Jonah’s Flight)

10th January 2006

I have finally figured out why Jonah took off to Tarshish when God told him to go to Nineveh! Jonah wasn’t being disobedient to God, he was just obeying a higher authority — his wife Anak! I have it on good evidence that Jonah’s wife evidently kicked him out of bed because of his snoring! At least that is my theory based on the Septuagint translation of Jonah 1:5-6!

My theory has nothing to do with the fact that I snore a little bit. OK, full confession: I snore really loud — just ask my wife or my kids! In order to gain some appreciation for how loud I snore, let me provide two illustrations. (1) As many of you know, I recently moved into a new house — a new house with a spare bedroom upstairs (also know as the “snoring room”). One night I had been sent to the snoring room and subsequently fell fast asleep. For some reason, in the middle of the night my wife had to go downstairs. She discovered that in the middle of the night she could hear my snoring everywhere in the house! (2) Last spring when I was in Toronto, I stayed at a good friend’s house. I ended up sleeping in his kids’ playroom. I am told that in the middle of the night his oldest son woke up and heard a horrible growling noise coming from the playroom. He ran to his parents’ room scared and told them all about the monster in his playroom. (Just in case you need the dots connected, I was the monster and my snoring was the growling. Also, don’t worry — I don’t have sleep apnea.)

Anyway… back to Jonah and my amazing theory. The Hebrew of Jonah 1:5 is pretty standard. Jonah takes off and boards a ship and goes down to the hold to catch a few zees. I guess it isn’t that boring since his sleep is described as רד×?, which is typically rendered as “deep sleep” or even “trance” (the cognate nominal is used in Genesis 2:21 to describe Adam’s Yahweh-induced sleep when having his rib removed). What I find interesting is how the Septuagint translates רד×? with the verb ῥέγχω “snore.” And Jonah’s snoring was apparently loud enough for the captain of the ship to hear him from above deck as he comes down to Jonah and asks him what is he doing snoring when a life threatening storm has been thrown to the Sea by Yahweh.

So, the moral of the story is if you snore, you’re in good company! Even the prophet Jonah snored… and we all know what a paragon of faithfulness and mercy he was!


One Response to “Snoring: Biblical and Otherwise (The Real Reason for Jonah’s Flight)”

  1. Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot » Blog Archive » Jonah’s “Big Fishâ€? Story 3: Jonah and the Sailors (1:1-16) Says:

    [...] וַיֵּרָדַ×? – The verb רד×? means “deep sleep” and is from the same root as the noun used to describe Adam’s sleep when the woman was taken out of his side in Gen 2:21. The Septuagint translates רד×? with the verb ῥέγχω “snore,” which adds some humour to the scene as Jonah’s snoring was apparently loud enough for the captain of the ship to hear him from above deck as he comes down to Jonah and asks him what is he doing snoring when a life threatening storm has been thrown to the sea by YHWH (see my post on snoring here)! [...]