Monday, April 13, 2015

Jonah 3, the turning of Nineveh

Nineveh will be changed - what a promise. We really need to be changed from the inside where all our prejudices are locked up, held in place by the distance we put between our inner and the outer parts, effectively by our objectification of the world as separate from us. But we could feed the hungry and cease from kleptocracy, and bring the self-centred violence of our palms to heel - couldn't we? At least we could sit in front of a nice plant and sulk (whoops, that's anticipating chapter 4).

קרא to call and to turn שׁוב are the formative words in this section. The prophet, even the reluctant one, calls and the world turns - good. The words that recur more than 3 times are below - note particularly גדל (great), a common word in Jonah. It's a great story. Note that the mortals appeal in chapter 1 and the king of Nineveh appeals in this chapter.

Some many (45?) years ago in Deep River, a little nuclear town north of Ottawa, I was asked to lead a study on Jonah. I was deeply unprepared. I cannot imagine less preparedness. I had never read anything about the text. I could barely have described Jonah the prophet to anyone. The discussion was a disaster. I had thought others would be able to contribute on the spot. For me a leader was just a facilitator. And to boot I knew nothing of the nuclear industry. There - that's a bit of a confession. I should have been reluctant to accept the commission. I wonder if I still have the proceedings from that conference tucked away somewhere. And I have been the beneficiary of nuclear medicine. There never are obvious answers in any case - maybe my ignorance was my safety.

It had been one of my mentors, Jacob Varaguese, who spoke to me even from the grave (via a letter I received after his death) who had asked me and I had no fish to hide in. I have not forgotten my long pre-internet friend, Jacob or his wife Florence, both of the parish of Little Trinity in the days of Harry Robinson. And when I come to Isaiah, I will remember the Bible Study at their house in Toronto in the 1970s and our attempt to read this prophet in those days. O zeal without knowledge, what will I do with you? But love has hands that the blind cannot see. Harry had this to say about me in those zealous days: Bob, I have never met anyone who can provoke a confrontation faster than you. Perhaps it was not a compliment.

וַיְהִ֧י דְבַר־יְהוָ֛ה אֶל־יוֹנָ֖ה שֵׁנִ֥ית לֵאמֹֽר
1
And the word of Yahweh happened to Jonah a second time saying,
13
25
ק֛וּם לֵ֥ךְ אֶל־נִֽינְוֵ֖ה הָעִ֣יר הַגְּדוֹלָ֑ה
וִּקְרָ֤א אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ אֶת־הַקְּרִיאָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י דֹּבֵ֥ר אֵלֶֽיךָ
2
Arise, walk to Nineveh, the great city,
and call out to her the call that I was speaking to you.
10
19
22
30
וַיָּ֣קָם יוֹנָ֗ה וַיֵּ֛לֶךְ אֶל־נִֽינְוֶ֖ה כִּדְבַ֣ר יְהוָ֑ה
וְנִֽינְוֵ֗ה הָיְתָ֤ה עִיר־גְּדוֹלָה֙ לֵֽאלֹהִ֔ים מַהֲלַ֖ךְ שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִֽים
3
And Jonah arose and walked to Nineveh according to the word of Yahweh.
Now Nineveh happened to be a great city of the gods, a walk of three days.
15
20
27
36
וַיָּ֤חֶל יוֹנָה֙ לָב֣וֹא בָעִ֔יר מַהֲלַ֖ךְ י֣וֹם אֶחָ֑ד
וַיִּקְרָא֙ וַיֹּאמַ֔ר ע֚וֹד אַרְבָּעִ֣ים י֔וֹם וְנִֽינְוֵ֖ה נֶהְפָּֽכֶת
4
And Jonah let himself come into the city one day's walk,
and he called out and he said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh will be changed.
15
17
26
33
וַֽיַּאֲמִ֛ינוּ אַנְשֵׁ֥י נִֽינְוֵ֖ה בֵּֽאלֹהִ֑ים
וַיִּקְרְאוּ־צוֹם֙ וַיִּלְבְּשׁ֣וּ שַׂקִּ֔ים מִגְּדוֹלָ֖ם וְעַד־קְטַנָּֽם
5
And the mortals of Nineveh believed in God
and they called out for a fast, and they clothed themselves with sackcloth from the greatest of them and to the least of them.
12
19
22
32
וַיִּגַּ֤ע הַדָּבָר֙ אֶל־מֶ֣לֶך נִֽינְוֵ֔ה וַיָּ֙קָם֙ מִכִּסְא֔וֹ וַיַּעֲבֵ֥ר אַדַּרְתּ֖וֹ מֵֽעָלָ֑יו
וַיְכַ֣ס שַׂ֔ק וַיֵּ֖שֶׁב עַל־הָאֵֽפֶר
6
And the word touched the king of Nineveh and he arose from his throne and transferred his majesty from him,
and he covered in sackcloth and sat on the ashes.
27
10
42
16
וַיַּזְעֵ֗ק וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ בְּנִֽינְוֵ֔ה מִטַּ֧עַם הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ וּגְדֹלָ֖יו לֵאמֹ֑ר
הָאָדָ֨ם וְהַבְּהֵמָ֜ה הַבָּקָ֣ר וְהַצֹּ֗אן אַֽל־יִטְעֲמוּ֙ מְא֔וּמָה אַ֨ל־יִרְע֔וּ וּמַ֖יִם אַל־יִשְׁתּֽוּ
7
And he appealed and he said, In Nineveh from the taste of the king, and his great ones saying:
the human and the cattle, the herd and the flock, let none taste anything whatever, let none pasture, and water let none imbibe.
20
28
34
47
וְיִתְכַּסּ֣וּ שַׂקִּ֗ים הָֽאָדָם֙ וְהַבְּהֵמָ֔ה וְיִקְרְא֥וּ אֶל־אֱלֹהִ֖ים בְּחָזְקָ֑ה
וְיָשֻׁ֗בוּ אִ֚ישׁ מִדַּרְכּ֣וֹ הָֽרָעָ֔ה וּמִן־הֶחָמָ֖ס אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּכַפֵּיהֶֽם
8
But let them be covered in sackcloth, the human and the cattle, and call out to God resolutely,
and let each turn from its evil way and from the violence that is in their palms.
24
22
38
33
מִֽי־יוֹדֵ֣עַ יָשׁ֔וּב וְנִחַ֖ם הָאֱלֹהִ֑ים
וְשָׁ֛ב מֵחֲר֥וֹן אַפּ֖וֹ וְלֹ֥א נֹאבֵֽד
9
Who knows. This God may turn and sigh,
and turn from his fierce anger and we will not perish.
12
11
20
18
וַיַּ֤רְא הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ אֶֽת־מַ֣עֲשֵׂיהֶ֔ם כִּי־שָׁ֖בוּ מִדַּרְכָּ֣ם הָרָעָ֑ה
וַיִּנָּ֣חֶם הָאֱלֹהִ֗ים עַל־הָרָעָ֛ה אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר לַעֲשׂוֹת־לָהֶ֖ם וְלֹ֥א עָשָֽׂה
10
And this God saw their deeds, that they turned from their evil ways,
and this God sighed over the evil that he designated to do to them and he did not do it.
19
25
32
37
Word / Gloss
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Vs
Stem
דבר the word of
1
דבר
לאמר saying
1
אמר
לך walk
2
הלך
נינוה Nineveh
2
נינוה
הגדולה great
2
גדל
וקרא and call out
2
קרא
הקריאה the call
2
קרא
דבר was speaking
2
דבר
וילך and walked
3
הלך
נינוה Nineveh
3
נינוה
כדבר according to the word of
3
דבר
ונינוה Now Nineveh
3
נינוה
גדולה great
3
גדל
מהלך a walk of
3
הלך
מהלך a walk
4
הלך
ויקרא and he called out
4
קרא
ויאמר and he said
4
אמר
ונינוה and Nineveh
4
נינוה
נינוה Nineveh
5
נינוה
ויקראו and they called out for
5
קרא
מגדולם from the greatest of them
5
גדל
הדבר the word
6
דבר
נינוה Nineveh
6
נינוה
ויאמר and he said
7
אמר
בנינוה in Nineveh
7
נינוה
וגדליו and his great ones
7
גדל
לאמר saying
7
אמר
ויקראו and call out
8
קרא
וישׁבו and let turn
8
שׁוב
ישׁוב may turn
9
שׁוב
ושׁב and turn
9
שׁוב
שׁבו they turned
10
שׁוב
דבר he designated
10
דבר


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