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Response: Book of Jonah

The story of Jonah centers around repentance and God’s mercy. Jonah is given a task by God to travel to Nineveh in order to announce its imminent destruction. Jonah tries to avoid doing this by fleeing to Tarshish, but after spending three days in the belly of a whale, he repents and travels to Nineveh. Once he arrives, he announces that the city will be overthrown in three days. The King of Nineveh mandates repentance in the hopes that it will cause God to change his mind and spare the city. God does indeed spare the city, which causes Jonah to become angry.

The story of Jonah contains parallels to the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis. In both stories, God is anthropomorphized. He speaks, he reasons, and he can potentially change his mind as a result of man’s actions. In Genesis, Abraham argues with God in an attempt to convince God to spare Sodom for the sake of the righteous people who may be living there. Jonah, on the other hand, attempts to flee. It is not clearly stated why, but after the Ninevites do repent, Jonah becomes resentful and angry. He tells God he knew this was going to happen and that is why he attempted to flee in the first place. Jonah sets up a lean-to outside the city, where he sits and waits, as if to tell God that he won’t leave until God does what he said he was going to do.

This story raises a question about the way that people perceived God when the book of Jonah was written. Was this story written at a point when God was being refashioned from a tribal deity into an unchanging entity? Other interesting points in the story are the recognition of other gods, the implication that God controls other nations as well as Israel, and that anyone can repent and turn back to God.

Image: By Unknown – Metropolitan Museum of Art, online collection: entry 453683, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32908844

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College Papers Religion Undergraduate Work

Bible in Pop Culture Week 5: Jonah’s Curse Black Spiced Rum

While there’s no indication that Jonah did any drinking while he was sitting in the belly of a whale for three days, the Biblical story has become tied up with the popular idea of swarthy sea dogs tipping back bottles of alcohol between rounds of pillaging and looting booty. Rum and pirates go together like Forrest and Jenny, so it isn’t surprising to find a brand of rum named “Jonah’s Curse.” In the Biblical story, Jonah wasn’t exactly cursed; he was punished by God for trying to flee to Tarshish instead of warning the Ninevites of their imminent destruction as he was commanded. That punishment involved sitting in the belly of a whale for three days until he repented.

The label of the bottle depicts a very large whale rising out of the water and towering over a ship with three masts. The whale could nearly swallow the ship in one gulp, which is a nod to the Biblical story. A whale would have to be very large for a person to live inside it for three days, after all. The rum is 47% alcohol per volume, so it is not for the faint-hearted, much like the task of walking into a major, populous city and announcing that God is going to smite them.

According to “Total Wine,” a sales website, the rum is “a rich, caramelized Caribbean run blended with 12 traditional spices. Vanilla, cinnamon and oaky notes on the nose – roasted pineapple, mangos and bananas on the palate.” The user “nezumitoo” on Instagram (also where I snagged the cropped portion of the above image) noted that Jonah’s Curse goes down smoother than The Kraken Black Spiced Rum and would be his first choice for any future purchases. The next time I pass by a liquor store, I will be stopping in to see if I can pick up a bottle myself.