“The book of Jonah invites interpretation from the first verse to the last; but its
elusive meanings are never fully netted. There is no conclusive answer to its questions.”
Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg in The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical
I. The Seven Parts of ספר יונה:
(Titles from JPS Bible Commentary – Prof. Uriel Simon)
- א:א-ג – The Command to יונה and its Violation.
- א:ד-טז – In the Storm-Tossed Ship: The Sailors’ Fear of God v. יונה’s Rebellion
- ב:א-יא – In the Belly of the Fish
- ג:א-ג – The Repeated Command and its Fulfillment by יונה
- ג:ג-י – In Doomed נינוה: The Repentance of the Sinners
- ד:א-ה – Outside the Pardoned City: יונה’s Second Rebellion
- ד:ו-יא – East of נינוה: The קיקיון – Given and Taken Away, יונה’s Acquiescence
II. Teshuva as Theme?
III. Critique of Teshuva as Theme
IV. Jonah’s Initial Flight
Where is תרשיש? Two Options:
Sa Caleta Phoenician Settlement – Ibiza, 650 BCE
המילה ׳׳תרשיש׳׳ בת׳׳ך:
V. Jonah Speaks
VI. Lés Miserables, Victor Hugo
“He had, in that barricade, the right to be killed…. His supreme anguish was the loss of all certainty…. There was in him a revelation of feeling entirely distinct from the declarations of law, his only standard hitherto…. An entire new world appeared to his soul; favour accepted and returned, devotion, compassion…. He said to himself that it was true then…that everything was not framed in the text of the code…. He was compelled to recognize the existence of kindness…. He asked himself:
This convict…whom I have pursued…and could have avenged himself…in granting me life, in sparing me, what has he done? His duty? No. Something more. And I, in sparing him in my turn, what have I done? My duty? No; something more. Then there is something more than duty.
Here he was startled; his balances disturbed.”
VII. In the Penal Colony, Franza Kafka,
The explorer followed the officer and said: “You don’t know yet what I mean to do. I shall tell the Commandant what I think of the procedure, certainly, but not at a public conference, only in private; nor shall I stay here long enough to attend any conference; I am going early tomorrow morning, or at least embarking on my ship.” It did not look as if the officer had been listening. “So you did not find the procedure convincing,” he said to himself and smiled, as an old man smiles at childish nonsense and yey pursues his own meditations behind the smile.
“Then the time has come,” he said at last, and suddenly looked at the explorer with bright eyes that held some challenge, some appeal for cooperation. “The time for what?” asked the explorer uneasily, but got no answer. “You are free,” said the officer to the condemned man in the native tongue. The man did not believe him at first. “Yes, you are set free,” said the officer. For the first time the condemned man’s face woke to real animation. Was it true? Was it only a caprice of the officer’s, that might change again? Had the foreign explorer begged him off? What was it? Once could read these questions on his face. But not for long. Whatever it might be, he wanted to be really free if he might, and he began to struggle so far as the Harrow permitted him…”
From now on, however, the officer paid hardly any attention to him. He went up to the explorer, pulled out the small leather wallet again, turned over the papers in it, found the one he wanted, and showed it to the explorer. “Read it,” he said. “I can’t,” said the explorer, “I told you before that I can’t make out these scripts.” “Try taking a close look at it,” said the officer and came quite near to the explorer so that they might read it together. But when even that proved useless, he outlined the script with his little finger, holding it high above the paper as if the surface dared not be sullied by touch, in order to help the explorer to follow the script in that way. The explorer did make an effort, meaning to please the officer in thus respect at least, but he was quite unable to follow,
Now the officer began to spell it, letter by letter, and then read out the words. “’BE JUST!’” is what is written there,” he said, “surely you can read it now.” The explorer bent so close to the paper that the officer feared he might touch it and drew it farther away; the explorer made no remark, yet it was clear that he still could not decipher it. “BE JUST! Is what is written there,” said the officer once more. “Maybe,” said the explorer, “I am prepared to believe you/” “Well, then,” said the officer, at least partly satisfied, and climbed up the ladder with the paper; very carefully he laid it inside the Designer and seemed to be changing the disposition of all the cogwheels; it was a troublesome piece of work and must have involved wheels that were extremely small, for sometimes the officer’s head vanished altogether from sight into the Designer, so precisely did he have to regulate the machinery.”
VIII. For Further Reflection – from the writers of the 929 community