The name Jonas ranked 483rd in popularity for males of all ages in a sample of 2000-2003 Social Security Administration statistics and 816th in popularity for males of all ages in a sample of the 1990 US Census.
Though this name appears on the 1990 U.S. Census lists, it is used by only a small percentage of the general population.
This name is sometimes interpreted to mean ''peace.'' As the dove is an almost universal symbol of peace, this is more of a variation than an alternative translation.
Jonah is a prophet in the Jewish scriptures whom God commissions to preach to the Gentiles of Nineveh. Abhoring this task, Jonah tries to escape by fleeing to sea. When a tempest hits, he knows that God's anger at him is the cause of it; he insists on being thrown overboard as a sacrifice.
The tempest abates as Jonah is swallowed by a great fish (identified in folk tradition as a whale.) After spending three days and nights in the belly of the fish, he is vomited up on the shore. He realizes the futility of resisting God's will, and proceeds to Nineveh, where his preaching brings about the conversion of the entire populace.