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1The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim judgment upon it; for their wickedness has come before Me.

3Jonah, however, started out to flee to Tarshish from the Lord’s service. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid the fare and went aboard to sail with the others to Tarshish, away from the service of the Lord.

4But the Lord cast a mighty wind upon the sea, and such a great tempest came upon the sea that the ship was in danger of breaking up.

10The men were greatly terrified, and they asked him, “What have you done?” And when the men learned that he was fleeing from the service of the Lord—for so he told them— 11they said to him, “What must we do to you to make the sea calm around us?” For the sea was growing more and more stormy. 12He answered, “Heave me overboard, and the sea will calm down for you; for I know that this terrible storm came upon you on my account.”

15And they heaved Jonah overboard, and the sea stopped raging.     Jonah 1/1-4, 10-12, and 15 Tanakh JPS 1985

 

6The waters closed in over me, The deep engulfed me. Weeds twined around my head.

7I sank to the base of the mountains; The bars of the earth closed upon me forever. Yet You brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God!

11The Lord commanded the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon dry land.    Jonah 2/6-7, and 11 Tanakh JPS 1985

 

1The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2″Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it what I tell you.” 3Jonah went at once to Nineveh in accordance with the Lord’s command.

4Jonah started out and made his way into the city the distance of one day’s walk, and proclaimed: “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

10God saw what they did, how they were turning back from their evil ways. And God renounced the punishment He had planned to bring upon them, and did not carry it out.          Jonah 3/1-4, and 10 Tanakh JPS 1985

 

1This displeased Jonah greatly, and he was grieved. 2He prayed to the Lord, saying, “O Lord! Isn’t this just what I said when I was still in my own country? That is why I fled beforehand to Tarshish. For I know that You are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, renouncing punishment. 3Please, Lord, take my life, for I would rather die than live.” 4The Lord replied, “Are you that deeply grieved?”

6The Lord God provided a ricinus plant, which grew up over Jonah, to provide shade for his head and save him from discomfort. Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7But the next day at dawn God provided a worm, which attacked the plant so that it withered. 8And when the sun rose, God provided a sultry east wind; the sun beat down on Jonah’s head, and he became faint. He begged for death, saying, “I would rather die than live.” 9Then God said to Jonah, “Are you so deeply grieved about the plant?” “Yes,” he replied, “so deeply that I want to die.”

10Then the Lord said: “You cared about the plant, which you did not work for and which you did not grow, which appeared overnight and perished overnight. 11And should not I care about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not yet know their right hand from their left, and many beasts as well!”     Jonah 4/1-4 and 6-11 Tanakh JPS 1985

 

But the Lord chose to crush him by disease,
That, if he made himself an offering for guilt,
He might see offspring and have long life,
And that through him the Lord’s purpose might prosper.     Isaiah 53/10 Tanakh JPS 1985

 

Commentary:

Jonah does not want to go to Nineveh and warn the people of G-d’s displeasure with them as he fears they will repent and G-d will not destroy them. Being an unwilling prophet (and believing the people of Nineveh to be beyond salvation), Jonah flees by ship to Tarshish.

G-d creates a storm knowing His prophet Jonah will be thrown overboard to his death and he has a graphic account of dying.

Now he is ready to do G-d’s bidding and goes to Nineveh as he was told to do.

Jonah is so emotionally distressed knowing G-d will relent of his anger on Nineveh he desires to die. So G-d prepares another lesson for Jonah.

He comforts him with a shade plant so he is happy and loses his anger. Then G-d takes it away and brings wind and heat that physically make Jonah so miserable he desires to die again.

G-d will cause the circumstances and take a prophet to his death to get him to do as he is told or to offer himself for guilt as He does with His righteous servant of Isaiah 53. He will inflict emotional pain and physical pain so great the prophet will desire death.

The righteous servant of Isaiah 53 is stricken and crushed with disease and then is chastised and punished until he is suitable for G-d’s purpose and taught the scripture so that by his knowledge the many are made righteous.

And not just two moments of desiring death from physical and emotional pain like Jonah but seemingly an eternity of soul tempering and cleansing by pain and suffering.

It has taken many years of daily chastisement and punishment for me as G-d’s righteous servant to see and understand how much it has changed me. My self will is minimal and all that I do is controlled by G-d.

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