sent the prophet Jonah to preach to the people who lived in Nineveh in
Assyria. They were enemies of the Israelites. Jonah did not want to go to
Nineveh because he feared that if the Assyrians were converted, they might
harm his people. Instead, he set out by boat for a far country. In this
way he thought he could hide from God.
But God sent a violent storm upon the sea. "Throw me overboard," said
Jonah to the sailors, "for I know that the storm has come because of me."
So, praying to God for mercy, they threw Jonah into the sea. And the wind
Then a great fish; sent by the Lord, swallowed Jonah. He was three
days and three nights inside the fish. There Jonah prayed, "When any soul
fainted, I remembered the Lord, Now I will offer my sacrifice. I will pay
what I owe to the Lord.
- For God is my deliverer."
At last, the fish threw Jonah out upon the shore.
God again ordered Jonah to go to Nineveh. This time he obeyed. He went
through the streets of the city, crying, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh
shall be destroyed."
When the king and the people heard this, they were in great fear. The
king ordered everyone in the city to do penance for his sins. Even the
king did penance that God might forgive Nineveh.. God saw that the people
were sincere, and in His mercy He spared the city.
Jonah feared that he might be looked upon as a false prophet. He built
a hut outside the city and waited there to see what would happen.
God caused an ivy to grow and shelter Jonah from the hot sun. For this
Jonah was grateful. The next morning, God caused the ivy to wither. The
sun beat down with such heat on Jonah that he cried, "It is better for me
to die than to live."
God then said to him, "You are sorry for the ivy, although you were
not the one to make it grow. Shall I not, therefore, spare Nineveh, which
has more than one hundred twenty thousand people?"
Jonah, cast into the sea to save the sailors, was like Jesus Christ,
who was sacrificed to redeem the world. Jonah was three days inside the
fish; Christ was three days in the tomb.
The story of Jonah shows God's interest; not only in Israel but in all
mankind. It teaches that men must do penance for their sins. It also tells
how God made use of His prophets, even when they did not want to carry out