Jonah 3:6—Why does Jonah refer to the king of Assyria simply as the king of Nineveh?
Problem: Conservative scholars maintain that the Book of Jonah was written by the prophet Jonah who actually experienced the events recorded in the book. However, if the Book of Jonah was written by a Hebrew prophet who lived in the time of the Assyrian empire, why would he refer to the king of the Assyrian empire simply as the king of Nineveh?
Solution: All of the ancient records regarding the history of Assyria testify to the fact that it was common knowledge that Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria. Simply because Jonah identifies this king as the king of Nineveh does not mean that Jonah did not also realize that this man was the king of the Assyrian empire of which Nineveh was the capital. The king of Assyria would certainly be the king of its capital city. To identify the king of a nation as the king of its capital city was not uncommon. In 1 Kings 21:1 Ahab, king of Israel, is referred to as the king of Samaria. So, Jonah’s use of this title is not anachronistic, and does not provide evidence for a late date.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.