Traditionally on Yom Kippur the story of Jonah is read out to remind us of God’s mercy.
Jonah goes to Nineveh
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Jonah goes to Nineveh
When GOD told Jonah to go to Nineveh to give the inhabitants a chance to save themselves, Jonah tried to run away from the task that he had been given. So much so that he didn’t really care if he would live or die as long as he did not have to tell the wicked people in Nineveh that they could be saved.
As far as he was concerned they were bad people who deserved what was coming to them and he was not prepared to help save them from their fate.
Jonah tried without much success to hide from GOD; he was thrown out of the boat, swallowed by the whale, spat out on the beach and eventually did as he was told.
Jonah sulked when people were forgiven
Soon after Jonah delivered his message to the people of Nineveh they felt bad enough about their wicked deeds to ask GOD to forgive them. And GOD forgave them. This made Jonah even more upset than he had been before and he went to sulk outside of the city in the shade and told GOD, “It is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah wished death upon himself because he was so very angry that GOD forgave wicked people after they asked him for forgiveness.
Jonah experienced GOD’s compassion himself when he was forgiven after running away from GOD. And when he consequently was thrown into the sea and swallowed by a whale and yet lived. GOD even grew Jonah a large plant to shade him from the hot sun whilst Jonah was feeling sorry for himself. Yet Jonah struggled to understand why GOD would forgive evil people even though they showed some measure of remorse for their bad deeds.
Jonah felt sorry for a plant which withered but couldn’t forgive people who showed remorse after they had done the wrong thing.
GOD is merciful and responds to remorse
Jonah said “I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”
The book of Jonah teaches us about God’s mercy and is read in its entirety during the Feast of Yom Kippor which is the day of atonement as mentioned in the bible.
Jonah – A Lesson in Compassion by Rabbi Dr Greg Killian
Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian tells us in his study “Jonah – a lesson in compassion” that “Yonah son of Amittai was the son of the widow from Tzorphath with whom Elijah the prophet stayed during the years of famine, and that it was this boy that Elijah revived.”
Yonah’s mother was from the tribe of Asher, and his father from Zevulun.
Amittai is derived from the Hebrew word: ‘emet’, meaning truth. From this we understand that Jonah (Yonah means dove in Hebrew) is a man of truth. Truth, as Jonah understands it, demands that evil never be overlooked; evil must be punished. Jonah is the “son of truth”, a man of unbending commitment to the truth. This may explain Jonah’s stance that evil must be punished. He was struggling to comprehend GOD’s compassion for evil people even though he experienced GOD’s mercy himself.
The story of Jonah teaches us to be compassionate towards one and other.
– This post about Jonah was first posted on June 24 last year and
reposted today because of the Holy Day of Yom Kippur coming up next week. –
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