The book of Jonah is, itself, a simple story that is unquestionably complex. The simplicity lies in the very human responses on the part of the main characters (Jonah, the sailors, the people of Nineveh); the complexity grows as we hold these reactions up to the greater contextual framework of Tanakh and some theological tenets to which we hold fast. For example – Yonah’s flight from YHVH is the well-known premise for his sea voyage. We can understand, in human terms, shirking responsibility (although why Yonah doesn’t want to heed YHVH’s call is not at all clear from the text). The complexity begins when we recognize that a prophet is a man (or woman) of great spiritual, emotional and intellectual stature. How could someone like that even consider running away from YHVH? Is there anywhere that is out of His reach?
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