Jonah and the Whale.


Detail from a relief showing the story of Jona...

Detail from a relief showing the story of Jonah and the fish/whale. From the tomb of Albrecht Thumb von Neuburg (1554–1613) at the north side of the choir of the Peter- und Pauls-Kirche (Saints Peter and Paul church) in Köngen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. About 1615, artist unknown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The story of Jonah is finally a story we can say is but a story for telling sake.  We know that there could never have been a whale swallowing a man, not the least spitting a person out.  Whilst to some desert folk perhaps the story may have been credible, I think we can take the story as a metaphorical story, one that was not meant to be taken literal, but symbolical, such as our contemporary fairy tales, perhaps.

In such the story has great value. The fact that Christianity, Islam (Yanus) and Judaism value the story is no mistake.   Jonah is too self conscious.  He fears wat people may say should he say what God, after all had tasked him with.  God is taken as the certain truth.

He hides on a boat and a storm breaks out.  Only when he admits to his identity and asks as such to be thrown over board does the bad weather end, but he is subsequently swallowed by the whale.

Self-searching in complete darkness he comes to the conclusion to come true to himself and God.  This results in him being spit out, and he proclaims the message he is tasked with to Niniveh.

Yet after this the city repents, and his vision does not come true.

ג  וְעַתָּה יְהוָה, קַח-נָא אֶת-נַפְשִׁי מִמֶּנִּי:  כִּי טוֹב מוֹתִי, מֵחַיָּי.  {ס} 3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech Thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.’ {S}
ד  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, הַהֵיטֵב חָרָה לָךְ. 4 And the LORD said: ‘Art thou greatly angry?’
ה  וַיֵּצֵא יוֹנָה מִן-הָעִיר, וַיֵּשֶׁב מִקֶּדֶם לָעִיר; וַיַּעַשׂ לוֹ שָׁם סֻכָּה, וַיֵּשֶׁב תַּחְתֶּיהָ בַּצֵּל, עַד אֲשֶׁר יִרְאֶה, מַה-יִּהְיֶה בָּעִיר. 5 Then Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
ו  וַיְמַן יְהוָה-אֱלֹהִים קִיקָיוֹן וַיַּעַל מֵעַל לְיוֹנָה, לִהְיוֹת צֵל עַל-רֹאשׁוֹ, לְהַצִּיל לוֹ, מֵרָעָתוֹ; וַיִּשְׂמַח יוֹנָה עַל-הַקִּיקָיוֹן, שִׂמְחָה גְדוֹלָה. 6 And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his evil. So Jonah was exceeding glad because of the gourd.
ז  וַיְמַן הָאֱלֹהִים תּוֹלַעַת, בַּעֲלוֹת הַשַּׁחַר לַמָּחֳרָת; וַתַּךְ אֶת-הַקִּיקָיוֹן, וַיִּיבָשׁ. 7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd, that it withered.
ח  וַיְהִי כִּזְרֹחַ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, וַיְמַן אֱלֹהִים רוּחַ קָדִים חֲרִישִׁית, וַתַּךְ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ עַל-רֹאשׁ יוֹנָה, וַיִּתְעַלָּף; וַיִּשְׁאַל אֶת-נַפְשׁוֹ, לָמוּת, וַיֹּאמֶר, טוֹב מוֹתִי מֵחַיָּי. 8 And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die, and said: ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’
ט  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל-יוֹנָה, הַהֵיטֵב חָרָה-לְךָ עַל-הַקִּיקָיוֹן; וַיֹּאמֶר, הֵיטֵב חָרָה-לִי עַד-מָוֶת. 9 And God said to Jonah: ‘Art thou greatly angry for the gourd?’ And he said: ‘I am greatly angry, even unto death.’
י  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה–אַתָּה חַסְתָּ עַל-הַקִּיקָיוֹן, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-עָמַלְתָּ בּוֹ וְלֹא גִדַּלְתּוֹ:  שֶׁבִּן-לַיְלָה הָיָה, וּבִן-לַיְלָה אָבָד. 10 And the LORD said: ‘Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow, which came up in a night, and perished in a night;
יא  וַאֲנִי לֹא אָחוּס, עַל-נִינְוֵה הָעִיר הַגְּדוֹלָה–אֲשֶׁר יֶשׁ-בָּהּ הַרְבֵּה מִשְׁתֵּים-עֶשְׂרֵה רִבּוֹ אָדָם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדַע בֵּין-יְמִינוֹ לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ, וּבְהֵמָה, רַבָּה.  {ש} 11 and should not I have pity on Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle?’

These are some great lines addressed to the self pity in all of use, the depressions of minor vulnerabilities that are blown out of proportion.  It is not unknown that people will act exactly as Jonah does.

 

 

 

 

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Aside | This entry was posted in Book of Jonah | יוֹנָה, Kings II and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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