Thursday, November 10, 2016

Jonah and Eden

Jonah in the Shadows of Eden

Like the manna-hoarding Israelites who, after the splitting of the sea, believe they can preserve their latest installment of divine largesse, the rebellious Jonah, after his own salvation at sea, renews his quest for a permanent Eden-like existence. In neither case, however, is the wish granted. Rather, God teaches Jonah, as he showed in the story of the manna, that enduring value cannot be attained by unearned gifts amassed in a day. Rather, only by persistent, plodding effort can humans strive toward a more perfect world—an opportunity that the prophet seeks to deny to the flawed inhabitants of Nineveh.

See Also: Jonah in the Shadows of Eden (Indiana Studies in Biblical Literature; Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2016).

By Yitzhak Berger
Professor of Bible
Head, Hebrew Division
Hunter College of the City University of New York
November 2016