I've finished my translation of Ruth from Hebrew to English and have learned a lot, and now I'm diving in to Jonah. I've already learned some interesting things. I thought I'd share a few here from time to time.
Numero uno, in Jonah 1:4 a literal translation would say something to the effect of, "And the Lord hurled a great wind at the sea, and there was a great storm on the sea and the ship thought it would be broken."
Did you see that little bit of weirdness at the end there? The ship is personified. The ship looks around at the winds and the waves and says, "Yikes! I am about to be destroyed!"
I like that. It's been completely washed out of any translation I've ever looked at. The author of my workbook (Chisholm) says that it's a dramatic point designed not only to show the severity of the storm, but also to drive home the fact that everyone and everything is reacting to God-- the wind, the ocean, the sailors, the captain and even the inanimate ship-- everyone and everything except Jonah, who is sleeping below deck.
I like to think that it's part of the comedy, too. One thing I can't get past as I read Jonah in Hebrew is that it's meant to be funny, at least in places. I think the thinking ship is part of the hilarity.