1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.
4 But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.
5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.
6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”
Mark Sayers makes the interesting observation:
The urgency of their predicament forces Jonah, a vessel chosen by God, to make a choice. This small group of sailors, travelers, and traders now must form a community. Each calls to his god. However, when faced with the chaos of the deep, which came up and destroyed the world during the flood, these petty, parochial gods are ineffectual. The sailors, who no doubt would have been accustomed to rough passages of open water, see something dangerously different in this storm: they have now exhausted the idols of their respective cultures.
Mark Sayers, Facing Leviathan