Jonah is a prophet and a scholar, but he is also a yokel from a one-horse Israeli border town whose name means "wine-press of the pit," and Nineveh, however despicable he thinks it, is a Bronze Age New York City. Modern Ninevites like me can imagine it as just about two Central Parks stuck together, encircled by twelve miles of stout wall with no fewer than fifteen gates. The gate by which Jonah enters here is the Mashki Gate, "Gate of the Watering Places," by which Ninevites perhaps led their animals out to drink from the conveniently located Tigris. (The Iraqis were nice enough to reconstruct this gate recently, so I know just how it would have looked to Jonah, except that perhaps the bricks were plastered and ornamented.) The Khosr River, which runs right through town, is spanned by two bridges, and the royal residences and even some of the public places were decorated with magnificent art. Huge winged bull-men carved out of stone
flanked one of the gates on the east side. All these architectural marvels were no problem for the Assyrians, who had a never-ending supply of slave labor. Also, these were the guys who invented the wheel, so they had brains as well as brawn. All this is on Jonah's mind as he heads inside. As I drew him I thought of a tourist family I saw once in Times Square, whose little boy was wearing a T-shirt that read "Arrest Me: I Prayed in School Today." You weren't even in school today, liar, I thought; that's false witness.
ETA: I forgot to mention something about the half-verse quoted up there. The most likely explanation for "three days' journey" is that it would take you three days to walk through every neighborhood in Nineveh. It certainly wouldn't take any able-bodied person three days to walk from one end to another, or even all the way around. And of course it takes a lot longer than three days for Jonah to get there, even assuming he got spit out as close as the fish could possibly spit him. Well, unless the great fish managed to swim up the Tigris and spit him right at the gates of the city. Actually, killer whales have been known to make brief jaunts into fresh water. But I don't think God would want to make things too easy for Jonah. This is, among other things, a story about putting your money where your mouth is. Do you really want to do God's will? Then get walking.