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The Jonah Paradox October 9, 2015

Posted by anagasto in art, history.
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THE GIANT FISH

The city of Nineveh was a rich city where Sennacherib had built his palace, and Jonah did not feel like preaching there.

He tried to escape across the Mediterranean. However, a storm endangered the ship, and when things became life-threatening, the sailors found out that Jonah had offended God.

They felt sorry for him and apologized, but they threw him overboard.

See http://www.tali-virtualmidrash.org.il/Index.aspx

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A huge fish picked him up and brought him back to where he had come from and where he had to preach.

See http://www.tali-virtualmidrash.org.il/Index.aspx

Is the angel bringing him clothes or a towel maybe? The text says that he came out all soaking wet but thirsty :-) after he had been in the dark prison for three days.

The best known drawing is probably Gustave Doré’s who illustrated many famous books:

According to some sources, the fish that swallowed Jonah was as old as the world, as both had been created at the same time.

Its mouth was as big as a church gate, so that Jonah could easily go in and down to the belly, and there were lamps inside, though the eyes of the fish were  also like large windows.

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THE PUMKIN VINE

Jonah went and preached general destruction. The people and all the animals listened to him. And the animals had to do penitence just like the people.

So the destruction did not happen and Jonah felt cheated, left the town and sat down on a nearby hill sulking.

flower-of-the-gourd

It was a hot summer day, but a gourd or pumpkin vine grew and gave him shade. So Jonah was happy.

But next a worm came and killed the gourd and Jonah shouted in anger. So God appeared and said:

“Would you expect me to destroy the city with its people and all of its animals, and yet feel sorry for your gourd?”

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A SARCOPHAGUS AT THE VATICAN

“Sarcophagus” is from Greek and means swallow the dead. It is a coffin made of stone and often sculpted. There  is Jonah sulking on the outskirts of the city. The people and also the animals have been praying and fasting.

Of the gourd or vine story there are fewer illustrations, because a man resting under a vine is not as interesting to depict as one getting thrown overboard and facing a whale. This is why this part of the story is also not so well known:

At the base you still see the fish, and at the top there is that vine.

It is from the third century.

At the top you see the people of Niniveh running and telling each other the news: God has decided to destroy the city unless they all try to change and lead a better life.

To the left there is Jonah getting thrown overboard and the fish, more like a sea serpent, ready to catch him.

To the right there is Jonah resting under the vine.

In the middle is the sea serpent spitting Jonah out towards the shore.

This seems to be a  drawing. I could not find any references at http://tronchin.wikispaces.com/message/view/Koortbojian/138326
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Link to source text in English … Greek … Hebrew … Latin

Below is a map of the Middle East as seen from ancient Israel.

tn_ancient middle east22

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