And just like that, the whole city scrambles to abase itself! I tried to give Jonah the look I think I would have had at that moment, because you know what never moved the Assyrians to repentance? The grief and agony of all the people they displaced and laid waste to with sword and arrow. But five words from some random Jew and all of a sudden everyone throws on a garment of sackcloth. Why did they even have sackcloth? Maybe they just put on actual sacks.
It's funny, but it's a very dark funny. Like what if they were Nazis instead of Assyrians? Doesn't the mind rebel against that idea? I can't imagine such an alternate universe story, one in which instead of murdering, say, Father Maximilian Kolbe, all the Nazis from the littlest Hitler Youth to Hitler himself heard his teachings and realized at once that they had done wrong and needed to stop and repent. Doesn't that idea hurt? It hurts because we know they didn't stop, and because we feel that, having started, they have to suffer. We won't accept an ending in which they don't suffer. But that is what God is giving Jonah here. And I understand his rage, which we'll see in a minute -- a rage so consuming that he demands God kill him. He'd rather die than accept a reality in which God doesn't smite the Assyrians. Fortunately this is a story about Jonah not getting what he demands.