RELIGST 2VV3 Chapter Notes -God Speaks, Tarshish, Books Of Kings
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Unlike the other Prophets, the book of Jonah is almost entirely narrative, with the exception of the psalm in
chapter 2. The actual prophetic word against Nineveh is given only in passing through the narrative. As with
any good narrative, the story of Jonah has a setting, characters, a plot, and themes. It also relies heavily on
such literary devices as irony.
The story of Jonah is set against the backdrop of Ancient Israel in the 8th-7th centuries BCEE, but deals with
the religious and social issues of the late 6th-4th centuries BCE, coinciding with the views of latter chapters of
the book of Isaiah (Third Isaiah), where Israel is given a prominent place in the expansion of God's kingdom to
the Gentiles.
The Jonah mentioned in II Kings 14:25 lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 BCEE) and was from the
city of Gath-hepher. This city, modern el-Meshed, located only several miles from Nazareth in what would have
been known as Israel in the post-exilic period (as distinct from the former southern kingdom, known
as Judah).
Nineveh, where Jonah preached, was the capital of the ancient Assyrian empire, which fell to
the Babylonians and the Medes in 612 BCE. The book itself calls Nineveh a “great city,” referring to its size
[Jonah 3:3 + 4:11] and perhaps to its affluence as well. (The story of the city’s deliverance from
judgment may reflect an older tradition dating back to the 8th-7th century BCE) Assyria often
opposed Israel and eventually took the Israelites captive in 722-721 BCE (see History of ancient Israel and
Judah). The Assyrian oppression against the Israelites can be seen in the bitter prophecies of Nahum.
The story of Jonah is a drama between a passive man and an active God. Jonah, whose name literally means
"dove," is introduced to the reader in the very first verse. The name is decisive. While many other prophets had
heroic names (e.g., Isaiah means "God has saved"), Jonah's name carries with it an element of passivity.[citation
Jonah's passive character is contrasted with the other main character: Yahweh. God's character is altogether
active. While Jonah flees, God pursues. While Jonah falls, God lifts up. The character of God in the story is
progressively revealed through the use of irony. In the first part of the book, God is depicted as relentless and
wrathful; in the second part of the book, He is revealed to be truly loving and merciful.
The other characters of the story include the sailors in chapter 1 and the people of Nineveh in chapter 3. These
characters are also contrasted to Jonah's passivity. While Jonah sleeps in the hull, the sailors pray and try to
save the ship from the storm (1:4-6). While Jonah passively finds himself forced to act under the Divine Will,
the people of Nineveh actively petition God to change his mind.
The plot centers on a conflict between Jonah and God. God calls Jonah to proclaim judgment to Nineveh, but
Jonah resists and attempts to flee. He goes to Joppa and boards a ship bound for Tarshish. God calls up a
great storm at sea, and the ship's crew cast Jonah overboard in an attempt to appease God. A great sea
creature sent by God, swallows Jonah. For three days and three nights Jonah languishes inside the fish's belly.
He says a prayer in which he repents for his disobedience and thanks God for His mercy. God speaks to the
fish, which vomits out Jonah safely on dry land. After his rescue, Jonah obeys the call to prophesy against
Unlike the other prophets, the book of jonah is almost entirely narrative, with the exception of the psalm in chapter 2. The actual prophetic word against nineveh is given only in passing through the narrative. As with any good narrative, the story of jonah has a setting, characters, a plot, and themes. It also relies heavily on such literary devices as irony. The jonah mentioned in ii kings 14:25 lived during the reign of jeroboam ii (786-746 bcee) and was from the city of gath-hepher. This city, modern el-meshed, located only several miles from nazareth in what would have been known as israel in the post-exilic period (as distinct from the former southern kingdom, known as judah). Nineveh, where jonah preached, was the capital of the ancient assyrian empire, which fell to the babylonians and the medes in 612 bce. The book itself calls nineveh a great city, referring to its size.