Jonah is a prophet in the Hebrew Bible. It is a dramatic story about Jonah’s reluctance and the repentance of the people of the city of Nineveh. G-d commands Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh. There he was to warn them that if they did not return from their sinful ways, the city would be destroyed. But instead Jonah attempts to flee from G-d by going to Jaffa and sailing away. Jonah fled from the Land of Israel, for “the Divine presence does not rest [on a prophet] outside of the Holy Land.” This seemed to Jonah a way to be freed from this guilt-laden mission. While on the boat a huge storm arises and Jonah has himself thrown overboard by the sailors. Jonah is miraculously saved by being swallowed by a big fish, in whose belly he spends three days and three nights. While in the great fish, Jonah prays to G-d in his affliction and commits to thanksgiving.

Handmade ceramic plaque

G-d then commands the fish to vomit Jonah out. Finally, Jonah understood that he had no choice. This time he goes to the city of Nineveh, crying, “In forty days Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Jonah successfully convinces the entire city of Nineveh to repent. G-d sees their repentant hearts and spares the city at that time. The Book of Jonah is read every year, in its original Hebrew and in its entirety, on Yom Kippur.

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