Sign in to follow this  
Atwater Vitki

Commentary On - Jonah, Something Fishy - Revrainbow

Recommended Posts

"It is unfortunate that much attention is focused on the giant sea (whale is a misnomer) creature in the story of Jonah than anything else. The story tells us that YHWH (since the Name of G-d, YHWH, is never spoken, the Name Adonai is used aloud in translation) “prepared a great fish (or sea creature)” just to swallow Jonah, so it could have been a one-of-a-kind deal. You can believe that part or not, but the “Whale” is not the focus of this little presentation.

Although Jonah is one of the smallest books (only four short chapters) of the Old Testament, it is rich in information about spiritual things that we many times overlook just because of our concerns over a giant fish being able to swallow a guy whole. Let’s focus on what happened aboard the boat in chapter one, for now.

YHWH told Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn them of impending judgment. Jonah didn’t want to go, so he hopped on a (most likely) Phoenician boat bound for Tarshish. Wrong move for Jonah and, what would be, a most memorable journey for the Phoenicians!

Once out to sea, the weather got nasty, a mighty tempest arose (sent by G-d) and these experienced mariners became very fearful that the ship would be broken up and sink so they began to beseech, it says, “every man unto his god (el).” Then they threw stuff overboard to lighten the load but still nothing improved. All the while, Jonah is sleeping down below (must have been a pretty sound sleeper!).

Well, the captain of the ship went downstairs and woke up Jonah and told him to pray to his God (Elohim) since, evidently, the sailors’ prayers to their gods weren’t working. Then they went up on deck and cast lots to see whose fault it was that they were perishing and Jonah (did G-d manipulate the toss?) got the deal. This raised some questions directed at Jonah.

After Jonah tells them what his problem is and that he is fleeing YHWH , his G-d, the sailors ask what they can do for Jonah to calm the seas. Jonah suggests throwing him self overboard. While the mariners probably know this is the solution, they hesitate in doing so hoping they could navigate the storm rather than toss Jonah. I’m thinking here that these guys, old salty sea dogs, were pretty compassionate in not immediately tossing the prophet! Methinks it could be due that they knew of the Hebrews and stories of their G-d. Their hesitation on tossing Jonah didn’t work and then something interesting happened.

All the mariners began praying to YHWH, because they feared a great fear, the G-d of Jonah. Believing Jonah, that his G-d was doing all this, they basically turned to YHWH asking forgiveness for tossing Jonah, which they did, and then continued to pray to YHWH and make vows.

Interesting, when we are faced with extreme fear, we promise God all kinds of things, “I’ll be good from now on,” “I’ll never do this again;” “I’ll go to church/temple.” That’s what these guys did when the storm subsided after they saw the power of Jonah’s G-d.

Many times we miss the importance of chapter one, that these men on the boat all became believers in Jonah’s G-d. It tells us that even though Jonah rebelled against G-d, YHWH still used the situation to bring glory to Himself through a display of His mercy and forgiveness, in spite of rebellion, to reveal Himself to the ship’s crew which, as we say, made believers out of them!

Many times we may be reluctant to do what we know God desires of us. We believe in God, as Jonah did, but we just don’t want to be guided by Him all that often, and thus, we end up in some difficult situations. Even so, God can use those times to His advantage, in bringing knowledge of Himself to those who do not know Him.

From a Christian perspective, I do not suggest that we continue to rebel against God using the excuse that “all things work together for good…” Although things do, it is not in our best interests to deceive ourselves into thinking we will escape some form of physical chastisement if we continue to neglect so great a spiritual guidance offered to us.

I hope to offer comment on the whole of Jonah, all four chapters, one at a time, and then tie it all together. This is part one of my take on Jonah. If you would like to comment on it, feel at liberty to move it to a discussion thread.

Blessings of Peace and understanding to all who read. "

I meant to comment on this awhile back and ran across my notes in Word....

Short version:

In the Nordic Sagas, there is also a story about Jördmündar - the Great World Serpent- and Thor being in a storm so fierce it cost him much of his crew and almost causing the boat to sink. The crew "called out to" the All-Father imploring him to cease the waves as it would cost them all dearly if things didn't improve quickly. The storm got worse and worse due to Jördmündar's thrashing tail, as they could "see it arise from the depths and as it fell great waves would wash over the ship".

Finally, when just about all was lost, Thor dove into depths and brought up Jördmündar's head, beating it with the mighty Mölnir (Thor's hammer) but the Great Serpent was too mighty and did not die. Exhausted, Thor climbs back onto the ship and falls upon his knees, this time praying the all-Father would simply put a quick end to them all and not make them suffer any longer. The storm worsened even more, then Thor got an idea - he would sacrifice himself to Jördmündar so that the remains of his crew could escape the thrashing tail and get back to solid ground.

Again, Thor and Jördmündar fought endlessly until they both fell exhausted - Jördmündar back to the depths and Thor floated to the surface...and all was finally calm. When they reached Midlander (Iceland) they were praised as heroes for having survived an encounter with the great Jördmündar, yet many did not believe the story as Thor was known to exaggerate on occasion. Even so, besides the carved "dragon heads" on the bows of nearly every ship, Thor's Mölnir was hence carved into the masts of those ships who's captains Believed as a warning/warding off of Jördmündar during their sea excursions.

A different, but the same basic story, belief in one's "G_d" shall protect those who hold those values in one's heart and mind. This saga continues today as every ship built and launched from particularly Norwegian, some Swedish, ship yards has Mölnir placed upon keel and rudder (usually a welding bead) as a precautionary tactic. As many of us believe that all the different descriptions of "G_d" are referring to the same deity.

The part I find most interesting is that Jonah lived roughly 800 BCE and the first written accounting of Thor's saga is believed to come from around 500 BCE with a Fore Word that this tale has been told for "hundreds of years" putting it in the 900-800 BCE time frame, perhaps even a bit earlier, but lineage - family trees- and who told what story go to the 850ish BCE time table.

So, is this a fishy story? Or is it one that could have gone either way- from the North to the South (Scandinavia to Middle East) or the other way around - South to North?

Personally I don't care where it originated as it an excellent example of faith and belief in one's particular religious structure.

After all, "G_d" is "G_d", no matter what title us puny Hu-mans give The Universal Consciousness/Creator of All Things!

Blessings of Peace,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did want to thank you for your most interesting comment above, Rev Al.

I think Jonah is one of the hardest stories for Christians to believe actually happened...giant fish and all.

Perhaps we can keep this thread open for any comments on Jonah since I plan on commenting on the entire book.

Thanks for your interest. Peace.

RR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rev. Rainbow,

Well actually, that was sort of the idea, to make a place for commenting on your Jonah series. I also wish to thank you for using this story from Scripture as it is one usually overlooked for more dynamic subject matter...but then, what could be more dynamic than being stuck in a whale belly for three days?!

I think another "overlooked" issue with this story, the sagas of Nordic beliefs and many other traditional and non-traditional sources, is the relevance of the number three. It seems this has been a "sacred" number since long before the writers of any book appeared on the scene. The välknut, or three-way-knot, which some know as a triscalon, has been found in archeological digs world wide dating as far back as 15,000 BCE. Many academics "think" this is due to the sacred bond between a mother, father and child which has been prompted forward into our history, sagas and religious beliefs.

Regardless of the origins and whether secular or religious, three has significance in the Holy-Father, Holy-Son and Holy Spirit, it also has meaning for Holy Father, Holy Mother, Holy Earth as a triune, and of course the numerous other connotations regarding the "3". It even has dominance in some of the really esoteric "cults" as High, Middle and Lower Self or Supra-, Sub- and Conscious states of being.

I guess we may never know exactly what the significance of 3 is or how it applies to our daily lives, but until then, I simply try to see all the ways that connect things, as being much more relevant than issues, or numbers, that tear things apart. To me, the quest for common ground in Beliefs is far more interesting than sticking to the process of dismantling and breaking down things we don't fully understand.

Blessings of Peace,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rev. Rainbow,

Well actually, that was sort of the idea, to make a place for commenting on your Jonah series. I also wish to thank you for using this story from Scripture as it is one usually overlooked for more dynamic subject matter...but then, what could be more dynamic than being stuck in a whale belly for three days?!

I think another "overlooked" issue with this story, the sagas of Nordic beliefs and many other traditional and non-traditional sources, is the relevance of the number three. It seems this has been a "sacred" number since long before the writers of any book appeared on the scene. The välknut, or three-way-knot, which some know as a triscalon, has been found in archeological digs world wide dating as far back as 15,000 BCE. Many academics "think" this is due to the sacred bond between a mother, father and child which has been prompted forward into our history, sagas and religious beliefs.

Regardless of the origins and whether secular or religious, three has significance in the Holy-Father, Holy-Son and Holy Spirit, it also has meaning for Holy Father, Holy Mother, Holy Earth as a triune, and of course the numerous other connotations regarding the "3". It even has dominance in some of the really esoteric "cults" as High, Middle and Lower Self or Supra-, Sub- and Conscious states of being.

I guess we may never know exactly what the significance of 3 is or how it applies to our daily lives, but until then, I simply try to see all the ways that connect things, as being much more relevant than issues, or numbers, that tear things apart. To me, the quest for common ground in Beliefs is far more interesting than sticking to the process of dismantling and breaking down things we don't fully understand.

Blessings of Peace,

The question you pose has been one of those swirling, nagging things that obsesses my consciousness in waves that crash and bubble, leaving me submerged in my ignorance.....

I have had experiences of Sacred Geometry that give rise to an awesome, unquenchable thirst to understand.

At a certain point in my experiences in deepest meditation numbers,geometric shapes, and mathematical concepts swirl and blend into the images and shapes I am witnessing...

I feel I have been at the proper vantage to see that on the " underside " of the reality that we witness, supporting and developing that reality, occur mathematical and geometric LAWS which play out like the metronomic ticking of a clock... An unending series of cause and effect play out like an immutable, unstoppable equation which must work itself out to reveal the sum total of conscious existence...

I witness these things and I understand exactly the nature of the Gears of Reality. I am filled with Hope and Love. I see that we started this voyage with Gladness and that we will end it in Joyous Homecoming. And all the while we are cradled in the awesome, infallible, sustaining and providing equations meant for exactly such a task....

Then I return from my vantage, the veil settles slowly back upon my mind and I DESPERATELY WANT TO KNOW - what was that about the number 7 that was soooo special a few moments ago?

I know there is a message in the number 3 which is directed at consciousness, meant to cause my curiosity to search for an answer - but where shall I start?

I KNOW there is an algorithm which will determine my spiritual ascension - How do I learn what it is? - how shall I implement it?

Does any of that even matter to my advancement? must I understand, or is it simply a gift for me? Must I be satisfied with the knowledge that THERE IS a very specific destination we are headed for, which we will arrive at when the equations are all played out, and never fully experience the equations themselves with any understanding?

I really, really want to know.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did want to thank you for your most interesting comment above, Rev Al.

I think Jonah is one of the hardest stories for Christians to believe actually happened...giant fish and all.

Perhaps we can keep this thread open for any comments on Jonah since I plan on commenting on the entire book.

Thanks for your interest. Peace.

RR

Rev Rainbow, I hope to be able to contribute with some questions as you go along with your commentary.

There are stories in the bible which interest me more than the majority. This is one of those stories.

I am reminded of the old adage " If you want to effectively hide something, hide it in plain sight. "

I am of the belief that there are hidden concepts within the text which are meant to be found by those who have a slightly different understanding than the " typical " Christian. I believe the story of Jonah to be one of those stories...

I will wait for the appropriate time to chip in, and hopefully life will conspire to allow me to be here at the right moment...

Edited by Brother Michael Sky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I too believe there is something in the numbers. I appreciate your input, Rev Al and Bro Sky. We shall see if we can discover or uncover something in Jonah that will be spiritually helpful to all concerned.

While I hover over the chapters, I cannot wait to get to chapter four and do some expounding. However, the next installment is chapter three which, of course, is important as to what happens in chapter four. Stay with me and feel free to interject,comment or argue as we go along.

Throughout the bible, we see references to numbers, in particular 3, 7 and of course, 666. Yet I find it strange that many Christians believe they are not to get involved with numerology.

Methinks it is more appropriate to simply encourage people not to get "too wrapped up" in any one aspect of studying scripture.

I believe there are still prophecies, still dreamers of dreams, still visions, still demons and yes, we can look at the numbers if we know what we are doing. All in all, whatever we do in our search, we must trust God to guide us and heed His Spirit. We must acknowledge Him in all we do and He will direct us. What matters is the intent of our heart and our desire to "know Him and make Him known."

I look forward to further discussion. peace.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did want to thank you for your most interesting comment above, Rev Al.

I think Jonah is one of the hardest stories for Christians to believe actually happened...giant fish and all.

Perhaps we can keep this thread open for any comments on Jonah since I plan on commenting on the entire book.

Thanks for your interest. Peace.

RR

Well I for one have no problem believing it hook line and sinker LOL.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Throughout the bible, we see references to numbers, in particular 3, 7 and of course, 666. Yet I find it strange that many Christians believe they are not to get involved with numerology. Methinks it is more appropriate to simply encourage people not to get "too wrapped up" in any one aspect of studying scripture.

גימטריה

Gematria.

(I know. Another long winded rabbinical response. Sorry. I just get carried away with words.)

Edited by RabbiO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

גימטריה

Gematria.

(I know. Another long winded rabbinical response. Sorry. I just get carried away with words.)

That, my dear friend, is an $18. response! I always enjoy your comments. Shalom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to see RabbiO amongst the thread, as I am about to go beyond my depth......

As usual when researching Religious subjects, one will find opinions which are at odds. understanding Jonah the Prophet, of course, is an example of how imperfect our understanding of things ancient really is... Who was he, what affected his decisions in his story?.. what exactly is the message of the story? And is there more info about him in other religions?

Well, I have found that there IS disagreement on this subject. But what I have done is bring what I have found in my research forward, and I offer it as fodder for your curiosity - In no way do I claim that this is the only understanding... As usual I am hoping for some discussion with folks who have much more experience in these subjects than I... Feel free to suggest that I am completely misunderstanding everything I read, but please show me where I have made my mistakes.... I gotta tough skin, and I want to understand things in the most realistic way possible - so if my understanding disagrees with yours, feel free to blurt that right out..... :) ... and try to enlighten me through this dense noggin of mine...

I would like to establish who this Jonah guy was....

In the Bible....

II kings 14:25

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. 25 He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.

Here is the mention of Jonah which tells us that he successfully prophesied the restoration of the boundaries of Israel during ( or before ) the reign of Jeroboam II. This, we find, are his prophet's credentials...

So Jonah is a proven accurate vessel of YHWH's message. He's the Real Deal - proven as such...

In Rabbinical Literature...

We find that there is a little trouble placing Jonah's lineage...there are some disagreements...but he is mentioned as the son of the woman of Zarephath that entertained Elijah....

uh oh, now we must look at Elijah...

and here we find something interesting... a story which has similar themes.... but a much more complicated story it is...

As the story goes: During the reign of Ahab we have Ahab meeting with Elijah at the House of Hiel. Hiel is the commander of Israel's army,he has lost his sons in battle and his position demands that honor be paid to him. God charges Elijah to go to him.

Elijah does not want to go.

Elijah is well known to lose his patience with the blasphemous speech of evil-doers, and as one who has gone against the divine injunction to rebuild Jericho ( Joshua 6:26 ), Elijah expects trouble...

God makes a deal with Elijah - That He knows that Elijah might go too far in his dislike for blasphemous speech, but will honor any imprecation that might, in his wrath, escape him,if he just goes and does God's bidding...

Now when Elijah gets to the meeting, Hiel is quick to speak up, and takes responsibility for bringing Joshua's curse down upon himself, But King Ahab speaks up, just as Elijah feared...

Ahab asks Elijah why Joshua's curse should be effective if Mose's injunction against worshipping idols has not meant trouble for him... He says

" Was not Moses greater than Joshua, and did he not say that God would let no rain descend upon the earth, if Israel served and worshipped idols? There is not an idol to which I do not pay homage, yet we enjoy all that is goodly and desirable. Dost thou believe that if the words of Moses remain unfulfilled, the words of Joshua will come true?"
Elijah responds:
" Be it as thou sayest: 'as the Lord, the God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.'"

And God honored His promise to Elijah and a drought and famine commence...

Ahab is terribly upset and seeks to persecute Elijah, Elijah hides out at a widows house to avoid Ahab...

God , who has compassion even upon the impious, tries to induce Elijah to release Him from His promise. First he dries up the stream where Elijah gets his water,Elijah is unaffected and holds his resolve.

Next he tries to change Elijah's mind by causing the death of the son of the widow who shelters him.

Now this widow was a woman who was granted great merit by God on account of her worthiness compared to her neighbors and the city residents... and she was the mother of Jonah. She gave Elijah a great amount of respect in receiving him, and now feels that the Greatness of the Prophet Elijah in her home has caused God to lose sight of her, her virtues having become as naught in the presence of such a great prophet..

Elijah is greatly distressed by the suffering of such a good woman and beseechs God to amend the situation, and revive the child.

God tells Elijah that He would like to help, but that the cure requires dew - which has been prohibited by Elijah's own intercession, and that he must release God from the promise of drought if a cure is to be effected. Elijah relents, Jonah is Raised, and Elijah goes off to deal with the non-repentant people... and the combat between God and Baal takes place on Mt. Carmel where Elijah invokes great signs and wonders...

So here we have Jonah - starting off in life as an instrument for God. Raised from the dead by Elijah himself, but witnessing at an early age the difficulties of being a prophet....

He goes on to receive his prophetic appointment from Elisha, under whose orders he anointed Jehu (II kings 9 )King of Israel, and charges him to destroy Ahab, his master.

The very next task Jonah is given is to proclaim the destruction of the Inhabitants of Jerusalem... which never happened, because the people had a change of heart and mercy was granted by God. So Jonah gets the reputation of " The false prophet " and gets a really sour taste for the Lord's forgiveness - just as Elijah had before him...

in General...

Jonah is the fifth in the group of 12 books referred to as the " minor prophets "... There is some question as to why it was included. Jonah is a midrash.

Midrash is a way of interpreting biblical stories that goes beyond simple distillation of religious, legal or moral teachings. It fills in many gaps left in the biblical narrative regarding events and personalities that are only hinted at.

And this sets us up for the Book of Jonah....

edit: I have not even touched upon the muslim stories of Jonah....

Edited by Brother Michael Sky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
" As a Christian, my job is to let Christ live in and through me. My job is to bless and edify and express the love and compassion and mercy of God so that others may be drawn to Him through Christ. Judgment of works and Man is left to God."

An icy chill runs through my spine, tantalizing, encouraging me to move forward with an engaged surge of enlightened energy for those that place comparative analysis and commonality in sacred texts above all else. If you never posted another word, which I certainly hope is not what happens, you have left a legacy, in the quote above, that should be chiseled into the threshold of the Pearly Gates my friend!! That is if St. Peter hasn't already seen to it!!!

"It sort of reminds me of some Christians who take pernicious pleasure in the fate of non-believers and, rather than preaching and showing God’s love and mercy, judge and condemn others not like them. They appear to actually enjoy the fact that people they don’t like are going to Hell , and tell them so. There is something wrong with Christians when they preach only judgment and condemnation and not the love and forgiveness of God expressed through Christ."
(emph. added)

Now those of Pentecostal and Fundamentalism beliefs are certainly free to believe in such, but IMHO, these are the very people that drove me away from the church of my parents. I vividly remember sermons, as a kid, by a Pastor that was about as personable as, and had the expressions of, granite. Only during his damning sermons of others, whether their beliefs or actions did you see any personality what-so-ever in him. As all the old Swedes said on a routine basis, "There is no grin in the Rosen!" (Pastor Rosengren)

He gleefully went in a tirade about the Beatles being banded from TV and made sure he nodded at every teenager seated in the sanctuary. He raved about the death of James Dean as getting what he deserved (I heard the tape recording about age 10-11, as my Dad, Assoc. Pastor, taped every sermon) and cautioned the congregation not to let the likes of Liz Taylor give any woman a notion about divorce. I know there were many other sermons, but those were the one's that quickly came to mind here and now.

I think one other thing that needs to be mentioned about Jonah, and probably why the story is not used more often, is the parallel to many people of contemporary Christian Beliefs. What you pointed out Rev. Rainbow, all the quibble and squabble over his personal discomforts and seemingly not giving a hoot about those in Nineveh (He(a)ven in - backwards!) If a "kvetch" is a whiny complainer, then I surely see a whole bunch of 'em out and about!(1)

The story of Jonah implores us to put our personal feelings of angst, and most importantly our opinions of others aside, and to be a living example of what would bring non-believers to G_d, not make them run like hell from Him. Not that being in a whale was any fun, but how minor compared to the real ilks of this Earth. I'm certain there are many people in Yemen, Libya and other Middle Eastern countries, that though a bit musty and damp, would find the whale belly far superior to where they are today, this moment.

I am ever content and happy with my personal Beliefs and have no desire to change a single thing. I feel confident I am good husband, charitable neighbor, a person of high morals and ethics, a decent steward of our planet and all around happy person who only wants the same for others. Sure I have my pisses and grumps about things like most others, but hey, isn't that what most forums are for? :unsure:

However, having said that, had I more people set an example, like Rev. Rainbow points out; the positive aspects of following Christ's message, instead of the angry, physically brutal and mentally damning examples I grew up with, who knows, maybe my title of "Reverend" would not have the a.k.a of 'Vitki' (runic priest) attached to it! It just seems to me that growing up Lutheran/Evangelical, one meets more Jonah's than he knows what to do with - maybe the whale was just for safe keeping and in G_d's thinking, out of sight, out of mind!?!?

Blessings of Peace,

(1)

If I lived in the city that one "kvetch", here in Atwater thinks we should have, (and he's at every city council meeting), we'd all be in bed by 7:30p, up at 4a for 2 hours of Bible and prayers, before going to a job we absolutely hate, (once a week shower is sufficient due to city water prices - yuck!) driving on roads that only 3rd 4th world countries have, in an overpriced car that is in ruins (1986 Ford Mustang with 157,000 mi. - he hasn't gotten "value out his $4,300 investment"), where the public school system is 110% responsible for our current "imbecilic teen problem", non-recyclers and 'wasters' are the reason for California's bankrupted economical state of affairs, and who's grocery stores are part of a global conspiracy towards starvation AND the council should look into getting better, padded seating donated by some anonymous person or store ....and that's just the opener...I won't bore you with his specific demands or two 3" binders full of "problems" each meeting!

(As for גימטריהI I have only one thing to say; 1728!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the kind comments, Rev Al. You know,if it were not for the experiences we have had, none of us would be where we are right now. I too endured hypocrisy (even my own!) and had many doubts throughout my journey. I have stopped confining my God to a box based on human intellect. I trust in his Word, as I understand it, and will continue to do so. But I will also continue to be guided by Him personally. The prodigal son is one who walks away from God and returns, not one who walks with God and leaves his former beliefs. Peace.

Edited by RevRainbow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The prodigal son is one who walks away from God and returns, not one who walks with God and leaves his former beliefs. Peace.

I would be hard pressed to explain how timely your words are Reverend. There's a man sitting in jail tonight, who will hear those words from me tomorrow, whom I believe will find strength from them... You have said in one short sentence what I would have struggled through five pages to relate. There is a certain beauty to such simplicity. Thank You.

and Thanks to you too AL, I was stealing a page or so from you as well..... :devil:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this