Complete books of the bible are read on a few occasions in the synagogue. Perhaps the best-known reading takes place during the afternoon service of Yom Kippur, when the entire book of Jonah is read. While it is the first two chapters of Jonah are most familiar–the story of Jonah and the fish–the third and fourth chapters have greater significance for the Day of Atonement. Chapter three recounts how the people of Nineveh repent and God forgives them. In the final chapter, Jonah learns a lesson in forgiveness–why God is compassionate and forgiving. This English translation is reprinted with permission from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures published by the Jewish Publication Society.
1:1. The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:
1:2. Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim judgment upon it; for their wickedness has come before Me.
1:3. Jonah, however, started out to flee to Tarshish from the LORD’S service. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid the fare and went aboard to sail with the others to Tarshish, away from the service of the LORD.
1:4. But the LORD cast a mighty wind upon the sea, and such a great tempest came upon the sea that the ship was in danger of breaking up.
1:5. In their fright, the sailors cried out, each to his own god; and they flung the ship’s cargo overboard to make it lighter for them. Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the vessel, where he lay down and fell asleep.
1:6. The captain went over to him and cried out, “How can you be sleeping so soundly! Up, call upon your god! Perhaps the god will be kind to us and we will not perish.”
1:7. The men said to one another, “Let us cast lots and find out on whose account this misfortune has come upon us.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
1:8. They said to him, “Tell us, you who have brought this misfortune upon us, what is your business? Where have you come from? What is your country, and of what people are you?”
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