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Analysis of the Book of Jonah

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We often read stories in the Bible without taking the historical context into consideration. As a result, we become unaware of the story’s historical validity. In some cases, stories are used to share a moral concept, or used as a tool to teach a lesson. The Book of Jonah is an example that will be used to determine if this particular story describes an accurate recount of history, or if it teaches the readers a lesson. In the Book of Jonah, Jonah (the prophet) is instructed to go to a pagan city (Nineveh) to preach to the Ninevites, hoping that they will repent for their sins. However, he challenges God and travels to Tarshish instead. Jonah receives consequences for his actions and Nineveh is eventually forgiven by God. Although the story of Jonah appears to entail a historically accurate event on the surface, it is, however, used to teach a lesson that God is the ultimate decider of who is worthy of forgiveness. Analyzing the historical context, explicating the verses of the book, and interpreting the book as a whole will allow a clearer understanding of the true purpose of the Book of Jonah, which is to convey a satirical story with a very important lesson.
The Book of Jonah is dated between 783 and 745 B.C. and takes place in an ancient Assyrian city, Nineveh. During this particular time, the Assyrians were aggressive and often had internal conflicts which had a bit of a change in its rulers. However time after time, the Assyrians nevertheless “retrenched itself in its old evil ways” (Judisch 154). The Assyrians would intimidate and fear the Israelites, making it easier for Jonah to not care about the city of Nineveh when God instructed him to help preach to the Assyrians. Nineveh was accused of evils and the Ninevites were ...

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