Wrong Way – Wrong Method

The story of Jonah and the whale is one of the most often-told tales in the Bible.  So, in my quest to find unusual things in the Bible, what can be found in this book?

‘The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”  But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.’  — Jonah 1:1-3

It has often been pointed out that Jonah fled in the opposite direction from where he was supposed to go.  The city of Nineveh is in modern-day Iraq, while the city of Tarshish is in Spain.  Starting from around the Holy Land (near Joppa, a port city), we can see from the map above that they are in opposite directions.  Jonah did his very best to do exactly the opposite of what God told him to do.

But did you know that Jonah’s trip to Nineveh was supposed to be over land – no boats involved?  The journey from his hometown near Nazareth to Nineveh should have taken him east over 500 miles, and would have been entirely by land.  Instead, he tried to sail to Tarshish – a distance of 2,500 miles to the west.  It is indeed in the opposite direction from Nineveh, and required a sail across the entire Mediterranean Sea.  So – just a little known fact – Jonah was not even supposed to get in a boat to make the journey that the Lord had directed.


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