Jonah Warns Nineveh
After Jonah had returned to his home, the word of the Lord came to him the second time and said to him: "Jonah, you must arise and go to Nineveh, which is a great and wicked city, and there you must preach to the people the words that I will tell you."
Jonah was no longer afraid to do as the Lord had told him, and instead of fleeing from his task, he undertook it with willingness. Therefore, he arose and walked across the Syrian desert for five hundred miles and at last came to the walls of the great and magnificent city.
When he reached Nineveh, he entered the cit and walked through its streets and by the sides of its great temples and buildings. He must have presented a queer sight, this pilgrim prophet. He was a Jew from a far distant country with a pack on his back and a staff in his hand. He was poor and unknown and a stranger among strange people, yet he was not afraid, for he began at once to cry up and down the streets: "Forty days from now Nineveh shall be overthrown."
He kept on saying these words, telling the people where he came from and why the city would be destroyed unless they should repent of their wickedness. At first they paid little attention to him but after a while they began to take heed. They already: knew of the wonders that the God of Israel had, performed and had heard that the words of the prophets had come true.
The people of Nineveh began to listen to the preaching of Jonah and at last many of them believed in his God and proclaimed a fast and put on, rough clothes from the greatest of the people to the least of them. Thousands of the people of Nineveh were stirred by this great revival and began to repent of their sins.
Then the king of Nineveh in his great palace heard of the preaching of Jonah and the commotion among the people. "What does all this mean, and what does the prophet say?" he asked of his officers. They told him what was going on. So he arose from his throne, laid aside his rich robes and put on rough garments and covered his body with ashes. The king then made a proclamation and sent word throughout Nineveh: "Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock taste anything; let them not eat nor drink water; let every man and beast be covered with sackcloth and cry unto the God of Israel. Let every one turn from his evil way so that the God of the Hebrews will not punish us with His anger, nor will Nineveh perish."
When the Lord saw that the people were repenting of their sins, He decided not to destroy the city of Nineveh and told Jonah that He had repented of His words and that Nineveh would not be over-thrown.
Strange to say, Jonah was disappointed in what the Lord told him, after he had expected Nineveh to be overthrown. He, therefore, said to the Lord: "Take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live, for I am now a false prophet and no one will believe me hereafter when I say this is the word of the Lord."
Then Jonah went out of the city and built for himself a little booth and hut in which he lived, and he sat in the shadow of it and waited to see what would become of the city.
It was very hot and Jonah became faint with the heat and weariness of his body. Therefore, the Lord prepared a gourd vine and made it grow over the hut of Jonah so that it might be a shadow over his head and protect him from the heat. Jonah was very glad of the shade from the gourd vine.
Then God sent a worm and the worm ate theft gourd vine so that it withered. Then a hot east wind arose and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah so that he fainted and wished himself to die. He cried out again to the Lord: "It is better for me to, die than live."
Then the Lord said to His prophet: "You have had pity on the gourd and did not wish it to perish, such a small thing as a gourd vine, which came up in a night and perished in the night. Because it flourished one day and was cut down the next day you have grieved and you wanted a gourd vine to live. Why should I not spare Nineveh, in which there are more than eighty thousand persons that do not know good from evil and also children and cattle?" Then Jonah knew that the Lord was right and he was much comforted.