Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Johah and Yunus

Sometimes one of my fellow Christians will say “God never changes his mind!” I won’t argue, but if you read scriptures, you know that God changes his mind all the time. Moses bargains with God, Noah bargains with God, Lot bargains with God – and after the mighty fish vomits Jonah (called Yunus in the Qur’an according to Wikipedia) onto dry land and Johah does the will of God – goes to Nineveh and tells them to repent, because their destruction is at hand – the entire population of Nineveh repents and God changes his mind, he relents, he forgives them.

Then the story takes one of those strange turns that stories often do in real life. Jonah gets his nose out of joint because God changed his mind and allowed the Ninevans to live.

Jonah 3:1-10,4:1-11

3The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ 3So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ 5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. 8Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. 9Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.’

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

4But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. 2He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. 3And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ 4And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ 5Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

6 The Lord God appointed a bush,* and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. 7But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’

9 But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ 10Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’

So here is my question – what do Islamic traditions have to say about Yunus? I have read the scriptures in the Qur’an, they are sketchy, thin, but I also know that often tradition has more to say about the stories we share, and I am asking if there is any illumination about why Yunus felt angry after God did not destroy Nineveh?

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October 16, 2008 - Posted by | Spiritual | , ,

4 Comments »

  1. I’ve always laughed to myself about the whole “Moses and God” thing – if they had ever been angry at the Israelites at the same time, the whole nations would have been toast. Fortunately, God could change Moses’ mind about zotting his recalcitrant charges and vice versa. lol

    Comment by DaisyMae | October 17, 2008 | Reply

  2. I’ve always laughed to myself about the whole “Moses and God” thing – if they had ever been angry at the Israelites at the same time, the whole nation would have been toast. Fortunately, God could change Moses’ mind about calling down fire on his recalcitrant charges and vice versa. lol

    Comment by DaisyMae | October 17, 2008 | Reply

  3. Sorry for the double post…I’m still learning. 😦

    Comment by DaisyMae | October 17, 2008 | Reply

  4. LOL Daisy Mae! You’ll figure out the posting thing, and yes, I love that Moses and God thing, too, and Moses calling his own people “a race of stiff-necked people” all the time. And I love it that there were TWO sets of the ten commandments because Moses smashed the first set when he saw his people misbehaving – don’t you kind of wonder if there were any revisions to the first set?

    Comment by intlxpatr | October 17, 2008 | Reply


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