Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Revisiting Jonah, The Descent, 1:1-5, The Dice, 1:6-9

There are already a few posts on this blog on Jonah that I did last year, as a kind of undergraduate final exam that was set for me and which I marked myself from Christensen's work here. I thought I would update the tables in those old posts - even perhaps produce a post on each section, so I spent the morning jiggering my algorithms to accept Jonah from the data rather than Psalms - a bit tricky in an ad hoc system. I might get the whole act together at some point - but here below for starters is Jonah 1:1-9 with the question - does it divide into 2 sections?

You may remember that in the pdf, I divided Jonah into 7 sections. These are named for the keyword in the section. It turns out that I can be even more precise now that I have learned more about how to use these tables.
  • Chapter 1 The Descent (1-9), The Sea The Mortals (10-16), 
  • Chapter 2 The Fish, 
  • Chapter 3 The Call ???? (1-5), The Turn (6-10), 
  • Chapter 4 The City ???? (1-5), The Tender Plant (6-11).  
But I think that chapter 1 may further divide. And I have noted already that even single verses sometimes give a beautiful diagram. Let's see what comes of ...

The Descent.

Jonah, like the dew of Hermon, and the precious oil of Psalm 133, descends in his escape from יהוה (shades of Psalm 139 too.) Jonah's descent is not complete till chapter 2, when he descends to the roots of the hills, but all the other occurrences of descending are in chapter 1:1-5.

וַיְהִי דְּבַר יְהוָה
אֶל יוֹנָה בֶן אֲמִתַּי
לֵאמֹר
1.1
and the word of יְהוָה happened
to Jonah1 child of Amittai
saying
קוּם לֵךְ אֶל נִינְוֵה
הָעִיר הַגְּדוֹלָה
וּקְרָא עָלֶיהָ
כִּי עָלְתָה רָעָתָם לְפָנָי
1.2
Rise - walk to Nineveh2
the great city
and call out against her
for their evil has ascended in my face
וַיָּקָם יוֹנָה לִבְרֹחַ תַּרְשִׁישָׁה
מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָה
וַיֵּרֶד יָפוֹ
וַיִּמְצָא אֳנִיָּה בָּאָה תַרְשִׁישׁ
וַיִּתֵּן שְׂכָרָהּ
וַיֵּרֶד בָּהּ לָבוֹא עִמָּהֶם תַּרְשִׁישָׁה
מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָה
1.3
but Jonah rose and ran away to Tarshish
away from the face of יְהוָה
and he descended to Joppa
and found a ship going to Tarshish
and he paid the fare
and descended into her to go with them to Tarshish
away from the face of יְהוָה
וַיהוָה הֵטִיל רוּחַ גְּדוֹלָה אֶל הַיָּם
וַיְהִי סַעַר גָּדוֹל בַּיָּם
וְהָאֳנִיָּה חִשְּׁבָה לְהִשָּׁבֵר
1.4
but יְהוָה hurled a great wind onto the sea
and a great tempest happened on the sea
and the ship, she was reckoning she was a wreck
וַיִּירְאוּ הַמַּלָּחִים
וַיִּזְעֲקוּ אִישׁ אֶל אֱלֹהָיו
וַיָּטִלוּ אֶת הַכֵּלִים
אֲשֶׁר בָּאֳנִיָּה אֶל הַיָּם
לְהָקֵל מֵעֲלֵיהֶם
וְיוֹנָה יָרַד אֶל יַרְכְּתֵי הַסְּפִינָה
וַיִּשְׁכַּב וַיֵּרָדַם
1.5
And the salt-sea-farers feared
and they cried each to his God
and they hurled their cargo
that was in the ship onto the sea
lightening themselves of trifles
but Jonah had descended into the recesses below decks
and he was laid out unconscious3
וַיִּקְרַב אֵלָיו רַב הַחֹבֵל
וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ
מַה לְּךָ נִרְדָּם
קוּם קְרָא אֶל אֱלֹהֶיךָ
אוּלַי יִתְעַשֵּׁת הָאֱלֹהִים לָנוּ
וְלֹא נֹאבֵד
1.6
so the pilot approached him
and said to him
what's with you - unconscious!
Rise! Call out to your God
maybe this God will do something for us
and we will not perish
וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל רֵעֵהוּ
לְכוּ וְנַפִּילָה גוֹרָלוֹת
וְנֵדְעָה בְּשֶׁלְּמִי הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת לָנוּ
וַיַּפִּלוּ גּוֹרָלוֹת
וַיִּפֹּל הַגּוֹרָל עַל יוֹנָה
1.7
and they said, each to his companion
look here, let's let the dice fall
to know from whom this evil is ours
and they let the dice fall
and the dice fell to Jonah
וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו הַגִּידָה נָּא לָנוּ
בַּאֲשֶׁר לְמִי הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת לָנוּ
מַה מְּלַאכְתְּךָ
וּמֵאַיִן תָּבוֹא
מָה אַרְצֶךָ
וְאֵי מִזֶּה עַם אָתָּה
1.8
and they said to him, make it clear to us, please
why is it that this evil is ours?
what line of work are you in?
and where have you come from?
what part of earth?
and from this people - who are you?
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם
עִבְרִי אָנֹכִי
וְאֶת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם אֲנִי יָרֵא
אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֶת הַיָּם וְאֶת הַיַּבָּשָׁה
1.9
and he said to them
Hebrew I am
and I, I fear יְהוָה the God of the heavens
who made the sea and the dry land

1Jonah = Dove
2Nineveh = נִינְוֵה (N is a symbol for fish) + the letters of Jonah יוֹנָה with one reversal.
3shares two letters with descend and three in some forms of the conjugation (stem is רדם).

Here are the tables of recurring roots. Do they support a division of this section into 2 parts? (You can tell immediately from the colour coding, itself calculated from the summed numeric values of the root letters.)

Jonah 1:1-5 The Descent
Selected recurring words in relative order (1 to 5)
Word and gloss * first usage1234567891012VsRoot
ויהי and happened
1היה
יהוה יהוה
1יהוה
יונה Jonah
1יונה
קום rise
2קום
הגדולה that great
2גדל
לפני in my face
2פנה
ויקם but rose
3קום
יונה Jonah
3יונה
תרשׁישׁה to Tarshish
3תרשׁשׁ
מלפני away from the face of
3פנה
יהוה יהוה
3יהוה
וירד and he descended
3ירד
אניה a ship
3אניה
באה going to
3בוא
תרשׁישׁ Tarshish
3תרשׁשׁ
וירד and descended
3ירד
לבוא to go
3בוא
תרשׁישׁה to Tarshish
3תרשׁשׁ
מלפני away from the face of
3פנה
יהוה יהוה
3יהוה
ויהוה but יהוה
4יהוה
הטיל hurled
4טול
גדולה great
4גדל
ויהי and happened
4היה
גדול great
4גדל
בים on the sea
4ים
והאניה and the ship
4אניה
ויטלו and they hurled
5טול
באניה was in the ship
5אניה
הים the sea
5ים
ויונה but Jonah
5יונה
ירד had descended
5ירד
These first few verses introduce the characters, Jonah,יהוה, the ship. (yes she's a character in the story), and the salt-sea-farers (a word used only once in the story, carefully separating these 'characters' from the mortals of verses 10-16). They are the same group of people but their designation has changed. They are known as mortal rather than by their line of work. Is it because they have become aware of יהוה? The section is named from the recurrence of 'descend' but this word does not occur in the remaining 4 verses. The story-teller's memory will have a different hook for the following verses.
Jonah 1:6-9 The Dice
Selected recurring words in relative order (6 to 9)
Word and gloss * first usage123456789VsRoot
ויאמר and said
6אמר
מה what's
6מה
אלהיך your God
6אלוה
לנו for us
6לנו
ויאמרו and they said
7אמר
ונפילה let's throw
7נפל
גורלות the dice
7גורל
הרעה evil
7רע
הזאת this
7זאת
לנו is ours
7לנו
ויפלו and they threw
7נפל
גורלות the dice
7גורל
ויפל and pointed
7נפל
הגורל the dice
7גורל
ויאמרו and they said
8אמר
לנו to us
8לנו
באשׁר that
8אשׁר
הרעה evil
8רע
הזאת this
8זאת
לנו is ours
8לנו
מה what
8מה
מה what
8מה
ויאמר and he said
9אמר
אלהי the God of
9אלוה
אשׁר who
9אשׁר
Verses 6 to 9 are a conversation between the seafarers and the prophet. It is a conversation about evil using dice as a decision making tool. The seafarers are introduced to יהוה, recalling Psalm 107 and after the manner of the psalms of Book 5 that name יהוה as the maker of heaven and earth, in this case, specifically the sea, the source of their distress and dry land, the desirable refuge from the tempest. Jonah can scarcely be justified by this unintended side effect of his disobedience, but it does give others of us a little encouragement that in spite of the awful behaviour of the religious, some benefit might yet accrue, as it were, by chance.


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