How a Great Fish Swallowed Jonah

There was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel whose name was Jonah. One day God spoke to him and said, "Go to the great city of Nineveh and speak against it, because the people are wicked." Now Nineveh was the capital city of the country of Assyria, to the northeast of Israel. But Jonah did not want to preach to the people of Nineveh, so he went down to the seacoast town of Joppa and got on a ship that was sailing west, trying to run away from God.

But God sent a strong wind on the sea and the ship was in danger of breaking up. The sailors were really afraid and started praying to their gods to stop the storm, but of course it went on. Then they threw the cargo into the sea to make the ship lighter. But Jonah was down in the lower part of the ship sleeping. The captain found him there and said, "What are you doing sleeping? Get up and pray to your god for help!" The storm continued so the sailors drew lots to find out who was to blame for causing the storm. The lot fell to Jonah and so they asked him, "Who are you? Where are you from?" "I am a Hebrew," Jonah answered. "I worship the Lord, the God of heaven who made land and sea." Then he told them that he was trying to run away from God. They were afraid and said, "What should we do to you to stop the storm?" He said, "Throw me in the sea, and it will calm down." They didn't want to do that, so they tried to row to shore but the storm got worse and worse, so they finally threw him overboard. Then the sea calmed down at once. The sailors were afraid and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and promised to serve Him.

Now God had prepared a large fish and it swallowed Jonah to keep him alive in the sea. For three days he was inside the fish. There he prayed to God and God made the fish spit Jonah up at the land. Once again God told Jonah to go to preach at Nineveh. This time Jonah went. It was a large city that took three days to walk all through it. Jonah walked through it preaching, "In forty days Nineveh will be destroyed." The people believed God's word from Jonah, and so they decided to repent. To show this, they stopped eating and put on rough clothes called sackcloth. Even the king of Nineveh put on sackcloth and sat on ashes instead of on his throne. He gave an order for all the people to wear sackcloth and not eat. He said that everyone must pray to God and stop acting wickedly. God saw the people stopped acting wickedly. So he changed his mind and decided not to destroy the city.

But this made Jonah unhappy and he became angry. He prayed, "Lord this is why I tried to run away. I knew you would change your mind and not punish them. So just let me die. I'm better off dead than alive."

But God said to him, "Are you doing right to be angry?" then Jonah went outside the city to watch and see if God would destroy it. To teach him a lesson God caused a plant to grow up to give him some shade. Then God caused a worm to kill it. Jonah was angry about this too. Then God told him, "You care about the plant, that you did nothing for! How much more should I care about this city that has innocent children and animals in it."

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