The Sign of Jonah
The Book of Jonah is a story full of irony, a characteristic that marks both the person of the prophet and his career. Commanded by the Lord to preach repentance to the Ninevites, he proceeds in the opposite direction, boarding a ship at the port of Joppa, headed to Tarshish (Cadiz) at the other end of the Mediterranean Sea. While some biblical prophets showed themselves reluctant to comply with their call, Jonah seems to be the only one whose reluctance was inspired by the fear of being successful! It is an important feature of this story that Jonah did not want the Ninevites to be converted; he wanted them justly punished, not spared. The original account of Jonah’s call does not tell us this fact; we learn it only at the en . . .