Jonah (?????? "Dove", Standard Hebrew Yona, Latin Ionas, Tiberian Hebrew,and Arabic ???? Yunus or Yunis in Islamic Qura`anic terms) was a person in the Biblical Old Testament and Jewish Tanakh, the son of Amittai ("True"), from the Galilean village of Gath-hepher, near Nazareth.
Summary of the Book of Jonah
God ordered Jonah to preach at the city of Nineveh. Jonah did not want to, and tried to avoid God`s command by sailing to Tarshish. A huge storm arises. The sailors, realizing this is no ordinary storm, cast lots, and learn that Jonah is to blame. Jonah admits this, and states that if he is thrown overboard, the storm will cease. The sailors throw him overboard, and the seas calm. Jonah is miraculously saved by being swallowed by a large fish. In chapter two, while in the great fish, Jonah prayed to God and asked forgiveness and thanked God for being so faithful, and the result was, God commanded the fish to vomit Jonah out.
God again orders Jonah to visit Nineveh and preach to its inhabitants. He therefore went there and walked through it, crying "In forty days Nineveh shall be destroyed." The Ninevites believed his word, and appointed a public fast, from the meanest of the people to the greatest; the king himself putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes. God had compassion and did not bring His wrath against the city at that time.
Jonah is embittered by this. He questions the need for his journey, stating that since God is merciful, it was inevitable that God would yield to the Ninevites` entreaties--what need, then, for Jonah`s journey? After this he retired out of the city and made a shelter for himself, waiting to see if the city would be destroyed or not.
The Lord caused a plant (in Hebrew a kikayon) to grow over his shelter, giving Jonah some shade from the sun. Later, a worm bit the plant`s root and it withered. Jonah, being now exposed to the burning heat of the sun, became faint and desired that God would take him out of the world.
The Lord said unto him, "Do you have reason to be concerned at the death of a plant, which cost you nothing, which rises one night and dies the next; yet would you not have me pardon such a city as Nineveh, in which are 120,000 persons not able to distinguish their right hand from their left, and many beasts besides?"
Dating of Jonah
He was a prophet of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, and predicted the restoration of the ancient boundaries (2 Kings 14:25-27) of the kingdom. This prophecy was already fulfilled during the reign of Jeroboam II, under whom Jonah exercised his ministry. Timewise, this may mean he was contemporary with the prophets Hosea and Amos; or possibly he preceded them. If so, and if the Book of Jonah was, in fact, written by the prophet himself, Jonah is the very oldest of all the prophets whose writings we possess. He is often placed in the 8th century BC.
However, the city of Nineveh is described as "great" and serves as a metaphorical stronghold of sin, a role it could only play when it was Assyria`s capital in the 7th century BCE. For this reason (and the story`s elements of fantasy), many Biblical sceptics regard his tale as fictional.
The person of Jonah
His personal history is mainly to be gathered from the Book of Jonah, traditionally ascribed to the prophet himself, although this is not stated in Scripture. In the book, Jonah is a reluctant and uncompassionate prophet. This sto