The Story of Jonah

There was a seer in Israel whose name was Jonah. And the Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh, a large town where there was great need of good men. But Jonah did not care to go there, so he ran down to Joppa and found a ship there that would set sail for Tarshish in a few days. So he paid his fare, and went on board the ship to go to Tarshish, where he seemed to think the Lord would not find him.

But as soon as the ship was well on its way, the Lord sent forth a great wind, and the waves rose high, and the storm beat the ship, and it was blown here and there as if it were a toy. And those on board of her were in great fear, and cried out to their gods, and threw all the goods that were in the ship into the sea, so that she would not sink.

Jonah was down in the hold, where he lay and slept, though the storm was so fierce.

And the one who had charge of the ship came to him and said, What does this mean? Rise, and call on thy God to save us from shipwreck.

And the rest of the men said, Come, and let us cast lots that we may know who is to blame for this.

So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. And they said to him, Tell us, we pray thee, who has brought on us these ills. What is thy trade? where dost thou come from? where dost thou live? and of what tribe art thou?

And he said I am a Jew, and have fled from the Lord who made the sea and sky.

And the men were in great fear and said, Why hast thou done this thing? And what shall we do to thee that the sea may be still for us? For the waves were rough, and the winds blew a gale.

And Jonah said to the men, Take me up and cast me into the sea; then shall the sea be calm for you, for I know it is for my sake that this great storm has come upon you.

The men did not want to drown Jonah, so they tried their best to bring the ship to land, but could not.

Then they cried to the Lord, O Lord, we pray thee, count it no sin to us that we take this man’s life, for thou, O Lord, hast sent this storm on us for some of his sins.

So they took up Jonah, and cast him into the sea, and the sea grew still and calm.

And when the men saw this they were in great fear, and brought gifts to the Lord, and made vows that they would serve him.

Now the Lord had sent a great fish to the side of the ship to take Jonah into its mouth as soon as he was thrown into the sea.

And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights. And he prayed to the Lord while he was in the fish; and cried to God to help him, and to blot out his sins. And God heard him, and bade the fish throw him up on the dry land.

Then the Lord spoke to Jonah once more, and said, Rise, and go to Nineveh, and preach to it as I bid thee.

And Jonah rose and went.

And when God saw them turn from their sins and pray to him, he did not do to Nineveh as he said he would.

But this did not please Jonah. He thought that Nineveh should be brought low, for those who dwelt there were not good friends to the Jews. Then, too, Jonah’s pride was hurt, for he knew that men would laugh at him, and have no faith in what he said, so he went out of the town and sat down by the roadside.

And God made a vine to grow up there in one night, that Jonah might sit in its shade and find rest from his grief. And Jonah was glad when he saw the gourd. The next morn God sent a worm to gnaw the root of the vine, and it soon dried up.

When the sun rose God sent a hot wind, and the sun beat on Jonah’s head so that he grew sick and fell in a faint. And he was wroth, and had no wish to live.

And God said to Jonah, Is it well for thee to be in such grief for the loss of a gourd?

And Jonah said, Yes. There was good cause why he should feel as he did and long to die.

Then the Lord said to him, Thou wouldst have had me spare this vine which cost thee nought, and which grew up in a night and died in a night. And why should I not spare Nineveh – that great town – in which are hosts and hosts of young folks who do not know their right hand from their left?

So God put Jonah to shame, and made him see what a sin it was to wish to crush Nineveh just to please his own self and for fear men would laugh at him.

And Jonah found out, what we all need to learn, that it is of no use to try to hide from God.

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