Jonah Dressler 11 by ellonnic


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                               Summary of the book of Jonah

       To understand the story of Jonah, one must first know the location and

background of these two cities: Tarshish and Nineveh. Tarshish is a port city in modern

day Spain. Nineveh is in modern day Iraq along the Tigris River, and was an enemy city

of the Nation of Israel, the homeland of our friend Jonah.

       One day, the lord came to Jonah (as he does to most other prophets) and told him

to preach to Nineveh about their wickedness. They had been committing many cruel acts

including plotting against the Lord, plundering in war, prostitution, experimenting with

witchcraft, and commercial exploitation. Instead of following the path of a typical

prophetic calling (the call, denial, reassurance, acceptance), Jonah received the call, and

then literally ran in the opposite direction where he then boarded a ship bound for

Tarshish in order to evade God. God saw Jonah on the Mediterranean Sea and sent a

storm to stop Jonah’s ship. Each sailor, save Jonah, called out to their respective pagan

gods to save them from death. Jonah, on the other hand, was in a deep sleep at the time

down below deck.

       Eventually, all on board attempted pinned the responsibility for the storm upon

Jonah. They then began pummeling him with questions regarding his origin and god,

“What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people

are you?”

       Jonah replied, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who

made the sea and the land.” The crew in turn blamed the storm on Jonah since he had
previously claimed he was running from his god’s calling. Since the sea grew only more

turbulent, they asked him how to calm the seas. “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,”

replied Jonah..

       The men first struggled with all their might to row back to shore. They did not

want to sacrifice Jonah, but the storm grew stronger yet. After the sailors prayed to

Jonah’s god to apologize for killing an innocent person, they reluctantly cast Jonah to the

sea just as he had suggested. This immediately calmed the storm.

       Just before drowning, God sent a large fish (not a whale, nor serpent, nor

leviathan) to swallow up Jonah. He remained entombed inside the fish for three days and

nights. Jonah cried out to God in a prayer of forgiveness. God heard his plead and

released him from the whale onto dry land.

       God called once more to Jonah and told him to give his word to Nineveh like he

had been told to do before. After three days of traveling, Jonah exclaimed “Forty more

days and Nineveh will be over-turned”. Fearing God, the entire sinful city all fasted in

hopes that God would forgive them and spare them. God in fact did forgive them and mp

such destruction was brought upon them.

       Jonah then became very angry since God had compassion on an enemy of Israel.

He prayed, and god grew a vine to protect him from the sun as he watched what

happened to the city. Jonah was very happy with the vine, but God then sent a worm to

destroy the vine that protected his head from the blazing sun. Jonah grew angry again

and wished he would die. God then said to Jonah, “You have been concerned about this

vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died

overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who [like
children] cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not

be concerned about that great city?”

       This story is significant because it points out a fundamental flaw in the thinking of

Israel at the time. Israel believed that God only protected them and Israel wished harm

upon their enemies, but here God saves a great city of the enemies of Israel. God in fact

loves everyone – even those who are wicked. Not only does God protect all things he

created, but he also hates to be forced to destroy any of his own creations. He would

much rather they turn from their wickedness rather than be forced to punish them, or

worse, destroy them entirely.

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