Mother Fish

A student, David Henry, points out that the word “fish” is used three times in Jonah 1-2, and notes that twice it is masculine ( dag ; 1:17; 2:10) but once in a feminine form ( dagah ; 2:1). A gender-bending fish? Uncertainty on the part of the writer? Or a thematically significant . . . . Continue Reading »

Blessing to the Nations

When we read Jonah, our attention is naturally focused on the fascinating character of the prophet. He disobeys and flees, only to be cast a watery grave. He learns his lesson enough to obey the next time, but he’s awfully surly at the end about the withered plant. Insofar as a bigger picture . . . . Continue Reading »

Do the Dead Praise God?

Do the dead praise God? asks the Psalmist (88:10; 115:17). Yes, says the book of Jonah: As he descends to the roots of the mountains and the gates of Sheol, Jonah sings Yahweh’s praises (Jonah 2). A song of hope and triumph erupting from the grave: This is the sign of Jonah. . . . . Continue Reading »

Thoughts on Jonah

Some random thoughts on Jonah, inspired by a conversation with my student, Brillana McLean. 1) The first chapters of Jonah seem to follow something of an exit-and-return story. Jonah gets in a boat and crosses some water; he is cast out and is swallowed by the waters and by a sea monsters; he is . . . . Continue Reading »

Looking toward the temple

A student suggests that Jonah 2:4 is at the center of a chiasm that goes from 1:17 to the end of chapter 2. In 2:4, Jonah says that he looks toward the temple of Yahweh, and the centrality of that statement supports the notion that Jonah-in-the-fish is a type of Israel-in-exile (within the belly of . . . . Continue Reading »

Sign of Jonah

The sign of Jonah is certainly the death-resurrection of Jonah 2, as well as the turning to the Gentiles of Jonah 3. But the sign of Jonah also means the setting of a question mark above the future history of Israel. At the end of Jonah, Yahweh asks why he should not be merciful to the great city, . . . . Continue Reading »

Successful Disobedience

Jonah obeyed God’s commission, and preached successfully to Nineveh. They all repented in sackcloth. Earlier, though, Jonah DISOBEYED God’s commission, and preached successfully to the sailors on the ship. They all feared Yahweh and sacrificed and took vows. It appears that disobedient . . . . Continue Reading »

Parallel Sections of Jonah

I have long thought of the two parallel sections of Jonah as basically retellings of the same story, but now I’m thinking that they are consecutive thematically as well as chronologically. Here’s the typology: Jonah/Israel is called to witness to the nations, and refuses. Yahweh forces . . . . Continue Reading »