October 18, 2011

Jonah 1.4->

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.

Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god; and they threw the wares that were on the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them.

But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep.

So the captain came and said to him, "What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call upon your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we do not perish!"

And they said to one another, "Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us!" So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then they said to him, "Tell us, on whose account has this evil come upon us? What is your occupation? And whence do you come? What is your country? And of what people are you?"

And he said to them, "I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the dry land."

Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, "What is it that you have done?" For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then they said to him, "What shall we do with you, that the sea may quiet down for us?" For the sea grew more and more tempestuous.

He said to them, "Take me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you."

Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they cried to the Lord, "We beseech you, oh Lord; let us not perish for this man's life; and lay not on us innocent blood, for Thou, oh Lord, has done as it pleased Thee." So they took up Jonah and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord, and made vows.

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.


At 2:02 p.m., Blogger Random Arrow said...

I’ve struggled with why this passage leaves me dry! And has.

It dawned on me today that maybe the written form of this story sets the table as a minimum outline for further oral story telling and elaboration. This insight is pretty plain vanilla. Given how we humans elaborate stories. Beats me why this sensibility didn’t dawn on me sooner. I’m not sure if this insight is correct, or instead, whether the written form intended to lock the story into a fixed form and take the story away from oral elaborations. Could go either way. I imagine Bilbo Baggins captivating gasping youngsters of the hobbit-shire with this whopper of a story around the campfire. Perhaps with an active imagination and a vivid inward story teller (Story Teller) this sea saga becomes another Moby Dick. The history of its living reception in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity says that something’s going on.

I’m impatient and a bit ashamed of my sometimes personal moralizing of stories like these.

I’m trying to find larger themes.

See where this takes me.

At 9:10 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

Well, it definitely says something about how life might look-- to someone whose life clearly and frequently depends on factors beyond human control.

In this world-view, a life-threatening storm is no accident; it has a meaning-- And these people want to find out what that meaning is, because if they don't find the cause, and respond appropriately, they're going to die.

One doesn't sit still and think matters through calmly when the sea is going whump, whump, whump, whoosh underneath, tossing the floor below irresistably from side to side & from this way to that way... One's instincts had better be good, lest one go one way while the ship goes another. And this silly land-person is napping! (Probably trying to squeeze himself into the last dry cubic inch aboard, if only he could.)

But they don't want to be responsible for the death of an innocent man; they and the Hebrews have a common sense here of how the gods ought to feel about such actions. But as it becomes clear that this subpoena has Jonah's name on it, they do what they have to.

And then the whale arrives: a monstrous being, yet it's working to spec here, scarfing Jonah down just because that's its role in this performance. Instead of crunching him up and digesting him, it fetches him like a well-trained hunting dog.

What isn't to like about all this?


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