Jonah: An Axis Between Noah and Jesus – Part 1

 A whale of a story that plays a crucial role in the history of salvation

By Aviel Schneider |
The port of Jaffa today. Photo: Liron Almog/FLASH90

Not only the person but also the meaning of Jonah’s name is a guide principle in the connection from Noah to Jesus. Jonah means dove in Hebrew and like the bird (homing pigeon), Jonah is a messenger.

During the days of Noah and the flood, the dove is the messenger of the imminent salvation and renewed dedication to God. After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, heaven opened, and the Spirit of God came down in the form of a dove. Between these two events, the prophet Jonah is the axis connecting these two foundational events.

This affiliation is not only revealed in Jonah’s name, but also by his reputation and service. In addition, the name of his father Amittai (יוֹנָה בֶן-אֲמִתַּי) stands for “true God” or “God of truth.” Jonah reminds us that God’s promises apply to all of humanity, not just to one nation.

The Book of Jonah is not primarily a historical narrative, the date or the name of the king of Nineveh are never mentioned. The story is intended as a spiritual message that is only expressed at the end in the words of Jonah: “For I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, long-suffering and rich in grace and that you repent of your threats.”

With these words, Jonah justifies his flight from God, which is described in the first half of the book. Jonah then gets on a ship in the port of Jaffa (today the area of ​​Tel Aviv) and flees in the opposite direction, to the west, to Tarshish. Strong winds create a powerful storm in the Mediterranean. The sailors are overcome by fear, everyone turns to his god. At the same time, Jonah falls asleep in the lower nave. The captain finds Jonah, wakes him up and says he should urgently call upon his God, so he pulls himself together to see if he can save the people on the ship from being lost.

They all toss a lot (fate) to find what triggered the storm and the lot falls on Jonah. They consider what this could mean. Why did this evil visit us? What did he do? What country is he from? What people does he belong to? “I am a Hebrew and I fear the God of heaven, who made water and land,” Jonah relays.

Fear descended on the sailors. They now understand that he was fleeing from the face of God. This storm is raging because of me, Jonah explains and suggests they throw him into the sea to calm the water. Instead of throwing Jonah overboard immediately, they first try to row back to shore, but the storm was too powerful. Then they shouted to God (יהוה) not to let them drown because of Jonah. They are innocent blood and God do what he pleases. They threw Jonah into the sea and the sea calmed down. Chapter one ends.

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