Jonah

In collecting resources for preaching about Jonah, I found the following:

See Jonah Run: Comic Narrative in the Book of Jonah by Beverly Beem.

A very good survey of Jewish midrash surrounding the book of Jonah can be found in A biblical text and its afterlives: the survival of Jonah in western culture by Yvonne Sherwood.

A few questions from the reading – why did God want Nineveh to be spared?  Later in the Bible Nineveh rears its ugly head again as a threat to the Israelites.  The Assyrians, the people whose capital is Nineveh, attack and destroy Israel and Samaria and invade Judah, besieging Jerusalem.  Did God spare Nineveh so that the Assyrians could later be a scourge to the Israelites, or was it a real politick temporary measure in order to deter the Assyrians from attacking Israel during Jonah’s time, or was it that God extended mercy to Nineveh, and like most of us, the city took God up on the offer for a short period of time and then, later, changed its mind.  I know that the last option is the most preach-able, and probably the most coherent, since if God is merciful to Nineveh why wouldn’t God be merciful to Israel and try to stop them from being scourged by the Assyrian whip?  But then again, being a little suspicious of God’s motives is a way of penetrating Jonah’s own psychology, because what is he if not suspicious of God’s motives?

Something in Sherwood suggests another part of Jonah’s motivations – if the evil Ninevites repent and the people of Israel don’t, won’t that make the chosen people look awfully bad?  Jonah is a prophet, which means that he must represent God to the people and the people to God.  In this instance, his interest is in representing the people to God, and he wants them to appear in the best possible light.  But they won’t look very good if the blood-thirty Assyrians start acting all righteous and they don’t.

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One response to “Jonah

  1. I have been reading and searching for an answer and the only fact that I can say is that God is a loving and forgiving God and He gives us the opportunity to repent for our sins. Our God is a God of seconds chances. Reading about Jonah and his prayer to God, Jonah never repented for his sin of disobeying God command to go and tell. He disliked the Assyrians and I wonder that if Jonah’s hate for the people was so strong, did it blind Jonah from fearing God if he disobeyed God request?The Israelites decided many years back that they didn’t need God and they wanted to do it their way so many times even though they were the chosen ones
    I don’t have the answers. I only have what is placed on my heart. And are we all Jonahs when we hear God’s voice and just start to run away for fear of the unknown? How can we grow in our walk with God if we don’t stay at the table

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