Study Guide

Jonah in The Twelve Minor Prophets

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Jonah is God’s man on the run.

The Assyrians have invaded Israel, making life miserable for everyone concerned (everyone, that is, except the Assyrians), yet God tells Jonah to give the Assyrians a chance to repent before bringing divine judgment down on their collective heads. So Jonah does what any self-respecting prophet would do when faced with the prospect of seeing bad guys avoid a grisly fate: he takes off in the other direction.

What happens next is a rollicking tale of scared sailors, a big fish, a shady plant and divine snark.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. (NRSV 1:4)

But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. (NRSV 1:13)

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it. (NRSV 3:10)

The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. (NRSV 4:6-7)

Jonah whines about the bad guys getting to live another day, but God shuts him up by reminding him of the righteousness of his mercy. All in all, not a good few days for Jonah.

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