Enjoying Jonah ('dove")

I just read through the book of Jonah in my new Ignatius RSV-CE Bible.

There’s 48 verses packed, as usual, with lots of typical Biblical content.

  1. One of the things that caught my eye is that Jonah several times expresses a desire for death. That was totally below my radar screen when I read that book in the past.

  2. Matthew Henry’s commentary does a great job of pulling out the relevance of the various nuances in the text.

One of the curious things is that Ninevah repents and is spared by God, but they become acceptable to God without performing any aspects of ritual Jewish Law.

  1. Probably the most compelling part is how Jonah loses his life in place of “many” (the other sailors), as a prefigurement of Jesus.
    Perhaps what Jesus is referring to in the gospel as the “sign of Jonah” is not merely the analogy of being trapped in the fish with Jesus being in the tomb for three days then being resurrected.

  2. As the story goes, Jonah doesn’t merely survive in the belly of the great fish, but he is protected there and delivered to dry land. In other words, there was a purpose for the fish.

  3. Even M. Henry does not go this far, but it seems to me that God is providing some chastisement of Jonah to make him a bit more excited about going to Ninevah, like this, “If I (God) save you Jonah from such a hopeless situation like being in this fish, then you can trust ME to know what I am doing in sparing Ninevah.”

  1. Even M. Henry does not go this far, but it seems to me that God is providing some chastisement of Jonah to make him a bit more excited about going to Ninevah, like this, “If I (God) save you Jonah from such a hopeless situation like being in this fish, then you can trust ME to know what I am doing in sparing Ninevah.”

Yes, I agree. The book of Jonah isn’t primarily about God sparing Ninevah, but is about what Jonah learned from the experience–that God is God and will do as he pleases no matter who likes it or doesn’t like it.

How about the pre-figurement (?) of Jonah on the ship in the storm and Jesus sleeping in the boat during the storm and calming the seas by His command?

Jonah is a very rich passage.

NotWorthy

NotWorthy: Yeah, I ducked out to listen to Tim Gray on the Gospel of John and came back to make that point, and there you are, you beat me to it. Sure, that scene on the boat reminds of Jesus with His disciples in the boat being tossed about on the Sea of Galilee.

Jonah’s prayer is also a major part of the story – to be so full of faith in God and trust in him, and to meditate on scriptures, on the psalms, during times of obviously great trial and peril.

And, then when Jonah goes deep into the city, it’s a bit like being in the fish, so deep inside, so foreign a place, etc.

And, then, after preaching to the inhabitants of the city, Jonah retires to a safe distance to watch. That would be alarming to the residents of the city, to see this prophet just sitting there, way back, waiting for the hand of God to strike. That faith that Jonah had must have also weighed on the people, although the text itself does not point that out.

The only destruction we see is the worm destroy the vine that gives Jonah comfort. Then, we read of the wind on the land that echoes the power of the wind on the sea. God was in the wind on the sea, and He is there in the wind on the land.

[quote=BayCityRickL]NotWorthy: Yeah, I ducked out to listen to Tim Gray on the Gospel of John and came back to make that point, and there you are, you beat me to it. Sure, that scene on the boat reminds of Jesus with His disciples in the boat being tossed about on the Sea of Galilee.

[/quote]

Funny you should mention him. It was Tim Gray who brought this up in his The Gospel of Mark series. You can find it on EWTN’s Radio Archives (as well as his Gospel of John series). I’m trying to locate his Gospel of Luke series, but I’m coming up empty. Oh yeah, I taped tonights show!

Notworthy

St. Augustine I think gives a wonderful explanation on Jonah that is very worth reading, it is found in Letter 102. newadvent.org/fathers/1102102.htm

Here is a portion of it,

As, therefore, Jonah passed from the ship to the belly of the whale, so Christ passed from the cross to the sepulchre, or into’ the abyss of death. And as Jonah suffered this for the sake of those who were endangered by the storm, so Christ suffered for the sake of those who are tossed on the waves of this world. And as the command was given at first that the word of God should be preached to the Nine-rites by Jonah, but the preaching of Jonah did not come to them until after the whale had vomited him forth, so prophetic teaching was Addressed early to the Gentiles, but did not actually come to the Gentiles until after the resurrection of Christ from the grave.
35. In the next place, as to Jonah’s building for himself a booth, and sitting down over against Nineveh, waiting to see what would befall the city, the prophet was here in his own person the symbol of another fact. He prefigured the carnal people of Israel. For he also was grieved at the salvation of the Ninevites, that is, at the redemption and deliverance of the Gentiles, from among whom Christ came to call, not righteous men, but sinners to repentance.’ Wherefore the shadow of that gourd over his head prefigured the promises of the Old Testament, or rather the privileges already enjoyed in it, in which there was, as the apostle says, “a shadow of things to come,” furnishing, as it were, a refuge from the heat of temporal calamities in the land of promise. Moreover, in that morning-worm? which by its gnawing tooth made the gourd wither away, Christ Himself is again prefigured, forasmuch as, by the publication of the gospel from His mouth, all those things which flourished among the Israelites for a time, or with a shadowy. symbolical meaning in that earlier dispensation, are now deprived of their significance, and have withered away. And now that nation, having lost the kingdom, the priesthood, and the sacrifices formerly established in Jerusalem, all which privileges were a shadow of things to come, is burned with grievous heat of tribulation in its condition of dispersion and captivity, as Jonah was, according to the history, scorched with the heat of the sun, and is overwhelmed with sorrow; and notwithstanding, the salvation of the Gentiles and of the penitent is of more importance in the sight of God than this sorrow of Israel and the “shadow” of which the Jewish nation was so glad.

Probably the most important thing you can take away from Jonah is the demonstration of God’s core attributes listed in Jonah 4:2

Jonah 4:2 …You [are] a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who repents from doing harm.

What’s also interesting is the fact that when God shows Peter the vision of the unclean animals before sending him to Cornelius’ house in Acts 10 Peter is in the same place that Jonah started out - in Joppa.

Jonah 1:3 But Jonah arose 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 from the presence of the LORD.

Acts 10:5 "Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.

The big contrast between the two men and their actions is that while Jonah attempted to flee from God’s presence by going to Joppa, Peter had gone to Joppa in obedience to the Lord. And the big similarity is that they both were sent to Gentiles.

Hi all!

We read the Book of Jonah during afternoon prayers on our holyday/fast of Yom Kippur.

Jonah 1:15 says:

So they [the sailors] took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea…

Yet in 2:4, Jonah says:

For You [God] cast me into the depth, in the heart of the seas…

There is no contradiction. Both verses are entirely correct. While the sailors did the actual, physical work of chucking Jonah overboard, they were merely God’s tools. Thus, when Jonah says it was God who cast him into the sea, he is correct. Jonah’s

For You cast me into the depth, in the heart of the seas…

is the same as Joseph’s remark to his dumbfounded brothers in Genesis 45:8

So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God…

Joseph & Jonah both know that while God may not be the proximate cause of any given thing, He is the Ultimate Cause of all things.

The rabbi at our old synagogue in our old neighborhood in Jerusalem once gave a brilliant (I think) talk about Jonah. God has something He wants Jonah to do (go to Nineveh, but that’s beside the point). The first time God wanted to get Jonah’s attention (1:2), He asked him nicely. But Jonah wasn’t keen; he tried to run away from God, and boarded the boat for Tarshish. God tried to get Jonah’s attention a second time, this time not so nicely (i.e. He hurled a storm at the boat). Jonah still wasn’t keen; he went down in the hold of the ship & went to sleep. God tried a third time to get Jonah’s attention, this time very un-nicely; i.e. He cast him into the belly of the whale. Now Jonah had no choice but to pour his heart out to God & turn to Him with all his soul (because otherwise he was doomed). Our rabbi said that how often in our lives do we try to evade what we know to be what God wants us to do by trying to run away from Him (so to speak) or by going to spiritual sleep & pretending not to hear Him? When God wants to get our attention, the first time, He’ll ask nicely. If we don’t listen, the next time may be not so nicely. And if we still don’t listen, then He may put us into a position where we have no choice but to turn to Him and pour out our hearts to Him.

Our rabbi made one more fascinating comment. He noted where Jonah fled to. He fled to the west (Tarshish is in Spain, far to the west of the Holy Land), not to the desert to the east, or to Egypt & Syria in the south & north, respectively, but to Tarshish, in the west. When we want to run away from God and the way He wants us to lead our lives, our rabbi said, we’re still running to the west, to the empty materialism & permissive hedonism of modern Western culture. Like Jonah, we’re still fleeing to the west.

On Yom Kippur 1999, I was walking to afternoon prayers with Yohanan (who was then almost 3) on my shoulders & he was telling me all about Jonah (i.e. as he heard it from his 1/2-day daycare). DW & I try not to hit Da Boyz, as a means of disciplining them, except as a last resort in exceptional circumstances. We’re into giving time-outs, i.e. if Da Boyz do something naughty, they’re sent to their room, to stay there for a while, alone, with the door closed. So, as Yohanan & I were discussing Jonah, he told me that, “Jonah tried to run away from God.” I asked him if that made God happy or angry. Yohanan said, “God got very angry,” and then told me how God put Jonah, “in the fish’s tummy,” as a, “big punishment.” Yohanan was quiet for a few seconds and then he told me, “Daddy, God gave Jonah a time-out.” :slight_smile:

Last year on Yom Kippur, Naor (who was 5 last week) told DW & I that, “Jonah tasted yucky and that is why the fish spit him out.” :slight_smile:

This past spring, we met my uncle (from the US) in Tel Aviv & went to Old Jaffa (tel-aviv.gov.il/English/Tourism/Sites/Jaffa.htm). As we walked along the port (passing Simon the Tanner’s house), looking at the boats, I told Da Boyz that we were at the very spot where Jonah boarded a boat & tried to “run away from God.” They were very impressed!

Be well!

ssv :wave:

[quote=stillsmallvoice]Hi all!

We read the Book of Jonah during afternoon prayers on our holyday/fast of Yom Kippur.

Jonah 1:15 says:

Yet in 2:4, Jonah says:

There is no contradiction. Both verses are entirely correct. While the sailors did the actual, physical work of chucking Jonah overboard, they were merely God’s tools. Thus, when Jonah says it was God who cast him into the sea, he is correct. Jonah’s is the same as Joseph’s remark to his dumbfounded brothers in Genesis 45:8 Joseph & Jonah both know that while God may not be the proximate cause of any given thing, He is the Ultimate Cause of all things.

The rabbi at our old synagogue in our old neighborhood in Jerusalem once gave a brilliant (I think) talk about Jonah. God has something He wants Jonah to do (go to Nineveh, but that’s beside the point). The first time God wanted to get Jonah’s attention (1:2), He asked him nicely. But Jonah wasn’t keen; he tried to run away from God, and boarded the boat for Tarshish. God tried to get Jonah’s attention a second time, this time not so nicely (i.e. He hurled a storm at the boat). Jonah still wasn’t keen; he went down in the hold of the ship & went to sleep. God tried a third time to get Jonah’s attention, this time very un-nicely; i.e. He cast him into the belly of the whale. Now Jonah had no choice but to pour his heart out to God & turn to Him with all his soul (because otherwise he was doomed). Our rabbi said that how often in our lives do we try to evade what we know to be what God wants us to do by trying to run away from Him (so to speak) or by going to spiritual sleep & pretending not to hear Him? When God wants to get our attention, the first time, He’ll ask nicely. If we don’t listen, the next time may be not so nicely. And if we still don’t listen, then He may put us into a position where we have no choice but to turn to Him and pour out our hearts to Him.

Our rabbi made one more fascinating comment. He noted where Jonah fled to. He fled to the west (Tarshish is in Spain, far to the west of the Holy Land), not to the desert to the east, or to Egypt & Syria in the south & north, respectively, but to Tarshish, in the west. When we want to run away from God and the way He wants us to lead our lives, our rabbi said, we’re still running to the west, to the empty materialism & permissive hedonism of modern Western culture. Like Jonah, we’re still fleeing to the west.

On Yom Kippur 1999, I was walking to afternoon prayers with Yohanan (who was then almost 3) on my shoulders & he was telling me all about Jonah (i.e. as he heard it from his 1/2-day daycare). DW & I try not to hit Da Boyz, as a means of disciplining them, except as a last resort in exceptional circumstances. We’re into giving time-outs, i.e. if Da Boyz do something naughty, they’re sent to their room, to stay there for a while, alone, with the door closed. So, as Yohanan & I were discussing Jonah, he told me that, “Jonah tried to run away from God.” I asked him if that made God happy or angry. Yohanan said, “God got very angry,” and then told me how God put Jonah, “in the fish’s tummy,” as a, “big punishment.” Yohanan was quiet for a few seconds and then he told me, “Daddy, God gave Jonah a time-out.” :slight_smile:

Last year on Yom Kippur, Naor (who was 5 last week) told DW & I that, “Jonah tasted yucky and that is why the fish spit him out.” :slight_smile:

This past spring, we met my uncle (from the US) in Tel Aviv & went to Old Jaffa (tel-aviv.gov.il/English/Tourism/Sites/Jaffa.htm). As we walked along the port (passing Simon the Tanner’s house), looking at the boats, I told Da Boyz that we were at the very spot where Jonah boarded a boat & tried to “run away from God.” They were very impressed!

Be well!

ssv :wave:
[/quote]

Yup! We read the same book – and we read it in pretty much the same way.

Gives me chills to learn that you read this on Yom Kippur, as for Christians, Jonah is a “type” of Jesus: talk about Atonement! But, for us, unlike Jonah, Jesus does not taste “yucky!” :rotfl:

Hi Mercygate!

[quote=Mercygate]Gives me chills to learn that you read this on Yom Kippur,
[/quote]

The lesson here being

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way…

. God saw not their jaw-jawing but their actions.

Our Sages identify Jonah with the same mentioned in II Kings 14:25 but believe that he prophesied well before Jeroboam II’s actual reign. Our Sages identify Jonah with the prophet sent by Elisha to annoint Jehu (II Kings 9:1).

Our Sages teach that Jonah feared that it would look bad for us if the non-Jews of Nineveh repented after being admonished only once while we had stubbornly refused repeated admonitions to repent. Not wanting to make us thus look bad, he fled. When you realize that to the ancients Spain & the Straits of Gibraltar were the edge of the world, Jonah was trying not merely to leave the Holy Land but to get as far away from it as he possibly could.

I’ve always thought that God’s

“You had pity on the gourd, for which you neither labored nor made grow, which came up in a night, and perished in a night;and should not I have pity on Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle?”

gives the lie to those who claim that it’s, “My way or the highway to hell,” & that unless you believe a certain way God doesn’t give two hoots for you.

I use Jonah as an example to teach our boys that we can never run away from God. This past summer, we went to a park just outside Jerusalem where there is a natural spring-fed pool. The water flows into the pool through a tunnel which, with a flashlight, you can follow all the way back underground to the source of the spring. Naor & I were in there & we turned off the flashlight to experience the pitch darkness. Naor said, “Daddy, God can see us even in here, right?” (I love that kid!)

Be well!

ssv :wave:

Still – speaking of Hezekiah’s tunnel, do you know Zack Shavin: mail.saintbruno.org/mail/msg

He is FANTASTIC! Knows everything about the history and archaeology of the Holy Land – from Abraham to Paul . . . When my Jewish friends lament the cost of Bar or Bat Mitzvah for their children, I recommend that they do it in Israel and always give them Zack’s link. No: Zack doesn’t pay me to say this stuff. But he is extremely knowledgeable, very personable, and I admire him enormously.

Still laughing over Jonah tasting “yucky.”

Thanks for that tidbit. Interesting!

Our Sages teach that Jonah feared that it would look bad for us if the non-Jews of Nineveh repented after being admonished only once while we had stubbornly refused repeated admonitions to repent.

Another possible explanation that the text does not tell us, but which is never-the-less plausible: Jonah thought that they would repent, and since they were the enemy of Israel (or would be), Jonah didn’t want them to destroy Israel, so his wish was that they not repent, and thus they, rather than Israel, would be the ones that God would destroy.

Jonah wanted Nineveh destroyed so that they would not be a threat to Israel.

Hi all!

Mercygate, it wasn’t King Hezekiah’s tunnel I was referring to but we’ve been there & hiked through it. It is a hoot!

Hmm…

Perhaps it was to due their temporary repentance that the Assyrians of Nineveh gained the merit to overthrow the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE and to lay siege to Jerusalem 20 years later (the idea being to through a scare into us and spur us into repenting) during the reign of King Hezekiah.

I don’t know the gentleman you referred to. Sorry!

Be well!

ssv :wave:

[quote=TheOpenTheist]
What’s also interesting is the fact that when God shows Peter the vision of the unclean animals before sending him to Cornelius’ house in Acts 10 Peter is in the same place that Jonah started out - in Joppa.

Jonah 1:3 But Jonah arose 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 from the presence of the LORD.

Acts 10:5 "Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.

The big contrast between the two men and their actions is that while Jonah attempted to flee from God’s presence by going to Joppa, Peter had gone to Joppa in obedience to the Lord. And the big similarity is that they both were sent to Gentiles.
[/quote]

Talk about dove-tailing into my contribution to this thread!
While you are enjoying Jonah (dove), perhaps you will also enjoy the son of Jonah.

"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. …

Also found in John 1: 42 as son of John…

Son of the dove is very very cool to ponder.

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