James Limburg introduces the first six—Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah—of the minor prophets and provides a commentary that relates to today's world. He demonstrates why attention should be given to the words of these prophets as they communicate the word of God.
“Here the usual pattern is broken, for when he is told to arise and go to Nineveh and speak against its wickedness, Jonah instead arises and heads off in the opposite direction. Now begins a series of ‘descents’ in the unfolding of the story: Jonah goes down to Joppa, then he goes down (RSV, ‘went on board’) into the ship. A repetition indicates what is most important in this beginning of the story: Jonah was running away ‘from the presence of the Lord’ (v. 3, twice).” (Page 140)
“Jonah is pictured as carrying out his assignment without much enthusiasm. He only ‘begins’ to go into the city and only goes part way. His preaching in Nineveh does not reflect creativity or imagination and consists of only five words in Hebrew: ‘Yet forty days and-Nineveh will-be-overthrown’ (author’s translation). If Jonah’s preaching is successful, that success will surely not be credited to the homiletical or rhetorical skills of the prophet!” (Page 150)
“Jonah is the Israelite in the story, the representative of those people to whom the story was first addressed. His descent continues (see on 1:1–3) as he goes down into the hold of the ship (v. 5). His behavior is in sharp contrast to that of the sailors. They are on the deck working to save the ship: Jonah is down below sound asleep. They have prayed to their gods; we hear not one word of prayer from Jonah. The sailors are working to preserve life; Jonah gives up and prefers to die. They are men who act; Jonah only reacts, getting up when awakened, speaking when asked questions. The sailors worship the Lord; Jonah is running away from the Lord.” (Page 143)
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