So then Jonah as , having prayed to God in the belly of the big fish, honoured his promise and went back to Nineveh:. So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.
Jonahas and the Big Fish | Review of Religions
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then all of the people of Nineveh, the rich and the poor, and even the king, decided to seek repentance. The king then made a proclamation including:.
The latter describes the story in the following verses:.
And surely Jonah also was one of the Messengers, when he fled to the laden ship; and he cast lots with the crew of the ship and was of the losers. And the fish swallowed him while he was blaming himself. And had he not been of those who glorify God, he would have surely tarried in its belly till the Day of Resurrection. Then We cast him on a bare tract of land, and he was sick; and We caused a plant of gourd to grow over him. And We sent him as a Messenger to a hundred thousand people or more, and they believed; so We gave them provision for a while. Why was there no other people, save the people of Jonah, who should have believed so that their belief would have profited them?
When they believed, We removed from them the punishment of disgrace in the present life, and We gave them provision for a while. I have indeed been of the wrongdoers.
And thus do We deliver the believers [14,15, 16 ]. Prophet Jonah as is believed to have lived and preached in the late 9 th and early 8 th centuries B. He was the fifth of the Jewish minor prophets.
Jonah and the Whale
Jonah as was sailing to Tunisia from Jaffa which was an active port at least as early as B. The big fish threw out Jonah as onto the shore at Ashdod, and even today, the hill at Ashdod is called Givat-Yonah in Hebrew, and Nebbi Yunus in Arabic, so it is clearly associated by the local people with Jonah as. There is uncertainty as to the final resting place of the prophet Jonah as.
Palestinians claim that his sanctuary is at Halhul, just north of Hebron whilst the Lebanese claim his grave to be near Sarafand. Another potential site is near the city of Mosul in Iraq, not far from the ancient city of Nineveh where he was sent with his mission. Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the banks of the Tigris River in Mesopotamia near the city of Mosul in modern Iraq. The city dates back to around B. The ancient city was very advanced and developed for its time. It had two big mounds on either side of the Khosr River, one to the north called Kuyunjik, and a smaller one to the south now called Tell Nebi Yunus meaning the mound of prophet Jonah.
The city was surrounded by eight miles of solid defensive walls dating from around B. Nineveh also had a strong influence on other neighbouring towns such as Nimrud and Karamles . The great Temple of Ishtar was built centuries before the wall on Kuyunjik. The mound of Nebi Yunus is considered to have been the armoury for the city.
Soon after Jonah as visited the city, it took on greater prominence when Sennacherib, the Assyrian King, made it his capital  and initiated a massive construction programme that included the great walls and gates, a new royal palace on Kuyunjik, public gardens, and an impressive mile aqueduct system to bring in water from hills to the east of the city. This signalled an era of military conquests including attacks on Jerusalem and Judah. Sennacherib also built a temple to Nabu  , the god of wisdom and learning.
Later, Ashurbanipal built his palace and a library on the northern mound. The library housed thousands of clay tablets on many subjects. It was actually from this library that the accounts of the Gilgamesh Epic and the Enuma Elish were discovered, shedding light on their religious beliefs on creation and the great flood. By the time of Jonah as , Nineveh had become a major cultural, political and trading centre in the region. It became a religious centre for the worship of Ishtar, the goddess of love and war.
Nineveh is mentioned several times in the Bible in 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jonah and Nahum which is an oracle concerning Nineveh. This shows the significance of the city at the time of the Jewish kings. In reality, Nineveh was one of the superpower cities of its time. For Jonah as to go to Nineveh and preach repentance would have been the equivalent of a modern prophet doing the same in Paris, Tokyo or New York.
It would have taken huge courage and belief. Given the extent to which the city eventually responded to Jonah as and the fact that even the king responded and raised a decree, it would be interesting to try to identify the king in question. The most likely candidates are those shown below:. Whilst there is no conclusive evidence showing which years Jonah as lived and preached or which Assyrian king was in a position to make that decree, it is interesting to note that during the reign of Ashur-Dan III, the Assyrian Empire was struck by a major plague in B.
There was also a total solar eclipse over Assyria on 15 June B. It is possible that if these coincided with the preaching of Jonah as , they could have been interpreted as signs and warnings and contributed to the remorse shown by the people of Nineveh. Following the redemption of the people, Nineveh continued to flourish until it was attacked and destroyed by the Persians in B. In Turkish, yunus baligi refers to a dolphin. It has never been resolved as to what kind of big fish it actually was that swallowed Jonah as for three days without killing him and then threw him out onto the shores of Ashdod, but it would have needed to be large enough to swallow a man whole and allow him to breathe for three days.
Centuries later, Jesus as gave a sign that just as with Jonah as , he would be in the belly of the earth for three days and would then recover.
But unlike Nineveh, Jesus as warned that the Jewish people might not be as fortunate as the people of Nineveh, as the latter had repented whereas the Jews were arrogant . After being spit up again onto dry land, the prophet is presented with a second opportunity to learn obedience, and the issue of divine forgiveness rises to the surface like sea foam.
As soon as Jonah yields to the terror of the deep and the human conscience it represents, both the sea and the prophet are transformed.
Jonah, Book of
The trip into the behemoth's innards is a third decent, yet the creature is not simply a monolith of dread. It represents Jonah's monstrous misdeeds, but it is also an instrument of salvation. For three days, Jonah abides on the threshold of self-annihilation, a voyage into his inner being. By "dying" to his physical self, as represented by his disappearance into the fish's belly, Jonah can receive God's forgiveness and be reborn. The prophet never straightforwardly asks for forgiveness.
Yet after praying and meditating on the Lord's power to rescue and redeem, Jonah concludes that "Deliverance is the Lord's! Inside the fish Jonah has time to reflect on his perilous situation and change his attitude. God then seems to forgive Jonah, for the previously willful prophet is blown by the winds of promise and wafted back onshore among the living. After Jonah is released from his aquatic life raft, he obeys God's second command and goes to Nineveh.
If Tarshish represents distance from God, Nineveh represents blackest depravity. Ancient Nineveh was well known for its lawlessness and violence. Yet Nineveh also represents second chances to hear and obey the Lord. In Nineveh, Jonah issues a single proclamation that the city "shall be overthrown" Miraculously, the people and their king repent, their instantaneous righteousness serving as a stark contrast to Jonah's obdurate refusal to obey God.
Though the Ninevites do not know the Israelite God well enough to be certain that the prescribed punishment will be lifted, God decides to save them from destruction. Forgiveness is implied if not specifically mentioned. Surely Jonah should congratulate himself on a job well done. He delivers his message of doom and a guilty people are saved.
Mission accomplished. But Jonah is not pleased with the outcome and goes off by himself to brood. God and Jonah must still work things out. In the book of Jonah, God's loving-kindness is established as universal. What remains to be demonstrated is whether Jonah, himself recently delivered, accepts God's merciful plan for the whole world as symbolized by the Ninevites. In the final chapter, God's conduct is presented as a model for human beings, encouraging the same flexibility as the deity.
God remains an inscrutable force: in other stories, God angers quickly and punishes swiftly; but when Jonah sulks, complains, and asks for death rather than watch the deliverance of his enemies, God rhetorically declares at "And should not I care about Nineveh! God has the last word. Because the Lord, not Jonah, is the hero and main character in the story. The tale exemplifies forgiveness and subtly encourages human beings to emulate divine behavior. Jonah's silence constitutes an open ending, inviting readers to question what they would do in a similar situation.
God's last statement to Jonah encourages readers to engage in the struggle that grips the prophet. God implies that divine forgiveness should be awarded to the Ninevites, but never suggests that Jonah follow suit: a genuine conundrum. Jonah's story demonstrates that no one in heaven or on earth can force another to forgive; there must be a desire to do so.
Jonah is deeply conflicted and seems ambivalent about letting go of his grievances. The Ninevites never directly hurt Jonah or ask for his forgiveness, so he may feel unable to pardon them. He knows God is gracious , so perhaps he believes that adding his forgiveness would be superfluous.
Maybe he hates these foreigners so much that he cannot imagine divine leniency extending to them. Whatever his motivation, many have experienced the same stinginess of spirit at some time, and there can be legitimate reasons to withhold forgiveness. Cheap grace may encourage wrongdoers to victimize others, yet those who let go of disappointment, anger, spite, and desire for vengeance may free themselves from these same emotions. Human forgiveness is not only a gift magnanimously conferred upon others; when bestowed in suitable ways, it lifts the giver to a higher level.
When we look beyond the Bible, there is much to learn about forgiveness. First, forgiving and reconciling are not identical. Forgiveness can be unilateral, but reconciliation is a two-way street. If we have an opportunity for genuine dialogue with people who have wronged us, perhaps we would forgive. It may be inappropriate to absolve those who have not apologized or promised to mend their ways.
God forgives offenses against God, but people must make amends for transgressions committed against one another. Further, forgiving and forgetting are not the same thing, for one may forgive an oppressor while remembering the concept of "never again. Admitting guilt and asking to be released from blame are surely components of the process.
Punishing wrongdoers remains a way of mending what is broken, and forgiving does not always mean that the penalty should be abrogated. What Jonah fails to perceive is that forgiveness is love as it is practiced among people who realize that no one behaves perfectly. It is an internal process as much as an external one. In our hearts, we stop holding on to the hurt. If forgiveness does not occur, the wrongdoer will continue to win the power struggle, causing the Jonah within us to remain wounded and unemancipated.
For those who suffer, forgiving has advantages. Laying down the burden of wrath can be a relief contributing to emotional well-being. If we withhold pardon, we may lock ourselves in a dark, cold tower we help to perpetuate. And where is God in all of this?