The Sorrows of Young Werewolf (eyeteeth) wrote,
The Sorrows of Young Werewolf

Can't you see what I'm trying to tell you, I LOVE you

I love that this is all God says to Jonah at first. Just "Doest thou well to be angry?" Jonah, as we will see, doesn't even answer. His fury is such that he can't speak except to ask for death. Clearly he is not capable at the moment of discussing anything.

God's temperament varies from book to book of the Bible, but he's usually pretty harsh. Bet you'd like to enter the Promised Land after leading this ragtag bunch of misfits through the unforgiving desert for years and years, huh Moses? NOPE. Hey Saul, remember that time you left the king and a couple of animals alive in that one town after I told you to raze it to the ground? Maybe you thought that was a minor infraction and you could just kill them later! NOPE. Samuel, tell him what he's won: it's bipolar disorder! Also I'm going to give your whole kingdom to this shepherd boy. But wait, he's an ass too! Bet you thought you'd gotten off scot-free for that business of arranging Bathsheba's husband's death so you could force her to marry you, huh David? NOPE. I just let you live because I like you best, even though you totally don't deserve it, but that doesn't mean I won't kill your son, so start mourning!

The God of the Book of Jonah is positively gentle, and nowhere more so than here. This is the same God who tormented Saul for leaving a couple of cows alive in a city whose men, women, and children he had dutifully slaughtered. (That's First Samuel, chapter 13, for those of you playing along at home.) No wonder Jonah is so bitterly disappointed: he was hoping for that kind of annihilation here. He would have killed those cows, I'm sure; he would have brought in cows from other places and killed them too. What gives? And now, as a final insult, he can't even get God to kill him! Not even after he disobeyed God's orders to the very best of his ability -- way worse than Saul did. Though of course Saul was an anointed king, and Jonah's just some guy from a one-horse town that probably doesn't even really have one horse, so possibly God expects less of him.

What does the Hebrew God want? Does he want us to be kind, or does he want us to kill and kill and kill until the bodies of our enemies mount up to blot out the sun? I don't know. I like the first way better, personally. To like the first way better is to lay aside collectivism, to say that actually the innocent shouldn't die just because they happen to live in the same town as the people who cut off your brother's head and played rugby with it. Babies shouldn't die just because their parents are your enemies. If I meet a German my age, I don't get to punch her right in the face. When Jonah calms down enough that he can talk, God is going to argue along these lines, that collective punishment is wrong. This despite the fact that he demands it elsewhere. It's very confusing.

It is written in the Talmud that "he who saves a single life, it is as though he has saved the entire world." This is the opposite of collectivism: not assigning one value to many, but assigning the value of many to one. To God, every life is of infinite value, even the life of a Ninevite. He has used Jonah to turn tens of thousands of people away from evil behavior that would have necessitated their destruction, and that's a damn good day's work, but he's not done yet. He won't be done until Jonah, single, solitary Jonah, the whiniest prophet in the Bible, also understands the truth. Because single, solitary, whiny Jonah means the world to God. Why do you think I had that fish swallow you, silly?
Tags: stix, the bible, the book of jonah
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