מגילת יונה | Megillat Yonah, translated by J.R.R. Tolkien (1966)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

יונה
Yonah

פרק א
Chapter 1

א וַֽיְהִי֙ דְּבַר־יְהוָ֔ה אֶל־יוֹנָ֥ה בֶן־אֲמִתַּ֖י לֵאמֹֽר׃ ב ק֠וּם לֵ֧ךְ אֶל־נִֽינְוֵ֛ה הָעִ֥יר הַגְּדוֹלָ֖ה וּקְרָ֣א עָלֶ֑יהָ כִּֽי־עָלְתָ֥ה רָעָתָ֖ם לְפָנָֽי׃
1 The word of YHVH was addressed to Yonah son of Amittai: 2 ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and inform them that their wickedness has become known to me.’

ג וַיָּ֤קָם יוֹנָה֙ לִבְרֹ֣חַ תַּרְשִׁ֔ישָׁה מִלִּפְנֵ֖י יְהוָ֑ה וַיֵּ֨רֶד יָפ֜וֹ וַיִּמְצָ֥א אָנִיָּ֣ה ׀ בָּאָ֣ה תַרְשִׁ֗ישׁ וַיִּתֵּ֨ן שְׂכָרָ֜הּ וַיֵּ֤רֶד בָּהּ֙ לָב֤וֹא עִמָּהֶם֙ תַּרְשִׁ֔ישָׁה מִלִּפְנֵ֖י יְהוָֽה׃ ד וַֽיהוָ֗ה הֵטִ֤יל רֽוּחַ־גְּדוֹלָה֙ אֶל־הַיָּ֔ם וַיְהִ֥י סַֽעַר־גָּד֖וֹל בַּיָּ֑ם וְהָ֣אֳנִיָּ֔ה חִשְּׁבָ֖ה לְהִשָּׁבֵֽר׃
3 Yonah decided to run away from YHVH, and to go to Tarshish.[1]For the Hebrews. ‘Tarshish’, cf. 1 Kings 10:1 +: Ps 48:7 +. represented the end of the world: Yonah goes as far as he can to escape his duty. He went down to Yapho and found a ship bound for Tarshish; he paid his fare and went aboard, to go with them to Tarshish, to get away from YHVH. 4 But YHVH unleashed a violent wind on the sea, and there was such a great storm at sea that the ship threatened to break up.[2]Cf. Psalms 107:23-30

ה וַיִּֽירְא֣וּ הַמַּלָּחִ֗ים וַֽיִּזְעֲקוּ֮ אִ֣ישׁ אֶל־אֱלֹהָיו֒ וַיָּטִ֨לוּ אֶת־הַכֵּלִ֜ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר בָּֽאֳנִיָּה֙ אֶל־הַיָּ֔ם לְהָקֵ֖ל מֵֽעֲלֵיהֶ֑ם וְיוֹנָ֗ה יָרַד֙ אֶל־יַרְכְּתֵ֣י הַסְּפִינָ֔ה וַיִּשְׁכַּ֖ב וַיֵּרָדַֽם׃
5 The sailors took fright, and each of them called on his own elo’ah,[3]The sailors are from different countries: each has his own god but believes in the power of other gods as well. and to lighten the ship they threw the cargo overboard. Yonah, however, had gone below and lain down in the hold and fallen fast asleep.

ו וַיִּקְרַ֤ב אֵלָיו֙ רַ֣ב הַחֹבֵ֔ל וַיֹּ֥אמֶר ל֖וֹ מַה־לְּךָ֣ נִרְדָּ֑ם ק֚וּם קְרָ֣א אֶל־אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ אוּלַ֞י יִתְעַשֵּׁ֧ת הָאֱלֹהִ֛ים לָ֖נוּ וְלֹ֥א נֹאבֵֽד׃
6 The boatswain came upon him and said, ‘What do you mean by sleeping? Get up! Call on your elo’ah! Perhaps he will spare us a thought, and not leave us to die.’

ז וַיֹּאמְר֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵ֗הוּ לְכוּ֙ וְנַפִּ֣ילָה גֽוֹרָל֔וֹת וְנֵ֣דְעָ֔ה בְּשֶׁלְּמִ֛י הָרָעָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את לָ֑נוּ וַיַּפִּ֙לוּ֙ גּֽוֹרָל֔וֹת וַיִּפֹּ֥ל הַגּוֹרָ֖ל עַל־יוֹנָֽה׃
7 Then they said to each other, ‘Come on, let us draw lots to find out who is responsible for bringing this evil on us’.[4]The belief that a ship is endangered by having a guilty man on board is found elsewhere among the Ancients. So they cast lots, and the lot fell to Yonah.

ח וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֵלָ֔יו הַגִּידָה־נָּ֣א לָ֔נוּ בַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר לְמִי־הָרָעָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את לָ֑נוּ מַה־מְּלַאכְתְּךָ֙ וּמֵאַ֣יִן תָּב֔וֹא מָ֣ה אַרְצֶ֔ךָ וְאֵֽי־מִזֶּ֥ה עַ֖ם אָֽתָּה׃ ט וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֖ם עִבְרִ֣י אָנֹ֑כִי וְאֶת־יְהוָ֞ה אֱלֹהֵ֤י הַשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙ אֲנִ֣י יָרֵ֔א אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה אֶת־הַיָּ֖ם וְאֶת־הַיַּבָּשָֽׁה׃
8 Then they said to him, ‘Tell us, who is responsible for bringing this evil upon us?[5]Hebr. inserts ‘who is responsible for bringing this evil on us‘. a gloss from v. 7; Greek omits. What is your business? Where do you come from? What is your country? What is your nationality?’ 9 He replied, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I worship YHVH, the elo’ah of Heaven, who made the sea and the land’.

י וַיִּֽירְא֤וּ הָֽאֲנָשִׁים֙ יִרְאָ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֔ה וַיֹּאמְר֥וּ אֵלָ֖יו מַה־זֹּ֣את עָשִׂ֑יתָ כִּֽי־יָדְע֣וּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֗ים כִּֽי־מִלִּפְנֵ֤י יְהוָה֙ ה֣וּא בֹרֵ֔חַ כִּ֥י הִגִּ֖יד לָהֶֽם׃ יא וַיֹּאמְר֤וּ אֵלָיו֙ מַה־נַּ֣עֲשֶׂה לָּ֔ךְ וְיִשְׁתֹּ֥ק הַיָּ֖ם מֵֽעָלֵ֑ינוּ כִּ֥י הַיָּ֖ם הוֹלֵ֥ךְ וְסֹעֵֽר׃ יב וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֗ם שָׂא֙וּנִי֙ וַהֲטִילֻ֣נִי אֶל־הַיָּ֔ם וְיִשְׁתֹּ֥ק הַיָּ֖ם מֵֽעֲלֵיכֶ֑ם כִּ֚י יוֹדֵ֣עַ אָ֔נִי כִּ֣י בְשֶׁלִּ֔י הַסַּ֧עַר הַגָּד֛וֹל הַזֶּ֖ה עֲלֵיכֶֽם׃
10 The sailors were seized with terror at this and said, ‘What have you done?’ They knew that he was trying to escape from YHVH, because he had told them so. 11 They then said, ‘What are we to do with you, to make the sea grow calm for us?’ For the sea was growing rougher and rougher. 12 He replied, ‘Take me and throw me into the sea, and then it will grow calm for you. For I can see it is my fault this violent storm has happened to you.’

יג וַיַּחְתְּר֣וּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֗ים לְהָשִׁ֛יב אֶל־הַיַּבָּשָׁ֖ה וְלֹ֣א יָכֹ֑לוּ כִּ֣י הַיָּ֔ם הוֹלֵ֥ךְ וְסֹעֵ֖ר עֲלֵיהֶֽם׃ יד וַיִּקְרְא֨וּ אֶל־יְהוָ֜ה וַיֹּאמְר֗וּ אָנָּ֤ה יְהוָה֙ אַל־נָ֣א נֹאבְדָ֗ה בְּנֶ֙פֶשׁ֙ הָאִ֣ישׁ הַזֶּ֔ה וְאַל־תִּתֵּ֥ן עָלֵ֖ינוּ דָּ֣ם נָקִ֑יא כִּֽי־אַתָּ֣ה יְהוָ֔ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר חָפַ֖צְתָּ עָשִֽׂיתָ׃ טו וַיִּשְׂאוּ֙ אֶת־יוֹנָ֔ה וַיְטִלֻ֖הוּ אֶל־הַיָּ֑ם וַיַּעֲמֹ֥ד הַיָּ֖ם מִזַּעְפּֽוֹ׃ טז וַיִּֽירְא֧וּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֛ים יִרְאָ֥ה גְדוֹלָ֖ה אֶת־יְהוָ֑ה וַיִּֽזְבְּחוּ־זֶ֙בַח֙ לַֽיהוָ֔ה וַֽיִּדְּר֖וּ נְדָרִֽים׃
13 The sailors rowed hard in an effort to reach the shore, but in vain, since the sea grew still rougher for them.[6]Psalms 107:28 and Jeremiah 26:15 14 They then called on YHVH and said, ‘O YHVH, do not let us perish for taking this man’s life; do not hold us guilty of innocent blood; for you, YHVH, have acted as you have thought right’. 15 And taking hold of Yonah they threw him into the sea; and the sea grew calm again. 16 At this the men were seized with dread of YHVH; they offered a sacrifice to YHVH and made vows.[7]The author emphasises the piety of the pagan sailors: they are scandalised that Yonah should disobey Yahweh, v. 10. fear to offend YHVH by sacrificing Yonah, v. 14. and offer worship to Yonah’s god whose power they recognise.

פרק ב
Chapter 2

א וַיְמַ֤ן יְהוָה֙ דָּ֣ג גָּד֔וֹל לִבְלֹ֖עַ אֶת־יוֹנָ֑ה וַיְהִ֤י יוֹנָה֙ בִּמְעֵ֣י הַדָּ֔ג שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה יָמִ֖ים וּשְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה לֵילֽוֹת׃ ב וַיִּתְפַּלֵּ֣ל יוֹנָ֔ה אֶל־יְהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהָ֑יו מִמְּעֵ֖י הַדָּגָֽה׃ ג וַיֹּ֗אמֶר
1 YHVH had arranged that a great fish should be there to swallow Yonah;[8]On this fish and the other prodigies, of which the author is fond, see Introduction to the Prophets. and Yonah remained in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. 2 From the belly of the fish he prayed to YHVH, his elo’ah; 3 he said:[9]This song is a mosaic of Psalm-texts and is constructed on the conventional pattern of thanksgiving psalms: description of sufferings undergone, account of deliverance from them. For the psalmists, grave danger is a ‘death’ and deliverance a ‘resurrection’; cf. here w. 6,7,8. The sea, God’s primordial ‘enemy’, cf. Job 7:12+, is seen either as the kingdom of death itself or at least as the way that leads to it.

קָ֠רָאתִי מִצָּ֥רָה לִ֛י אֶל־יְהוָ֖ה
וַֽיַּעֲנֵ֑נִי
מִבֶּ֧טֶן שְׁא֛וֹל שִׁוַּ֖עְתִּי
שָׁמַ֥עְתָּ קוֹלִֽי׃
ד וַתַּשְׁלִיכֵ֤נִי מְצוּלָה֙ בִּלְבַ֣ב יַמִּ֔ים
וְנָהָ֖ר יְסֹבְבֵ֑נִי
כָּל־מִשְׁבָּרֶ֥יךָ וְגַלֶּ֖יךָ
עָלַ֥י עָבָֽרוּ׃
ה וַאֲנִ֣י אָמַ֔רְתִּי נִגְרַ֖שְׁתִּי
מִנֶּ֣גֶד עֵינֶ֑יךָ
אַ֚ךְ אוֹסִ֣יף לְהַבִּ֔יט
אֶל־הֵיכַ֖ל קָדְשֶֽׁךָ׃
ו אֲפָפ֤וּנִי מַ֙יִם֙ עַד־נֶ֔פֶשׁ
תְּה֖וֹם יְסֹבְבֵ֑נִי
ס֖וּף חָב֥וּשׁ לְרֹאשִֽׁי׃
ז לְקִצְבֵ֤י הָרִים֙
יָרַ֔דְתִּי הָאָ֛רֶץ בְּרִחֶ֥יהָ
בַעֲדִ֖י לְעוֹלָ֑ם
וַתַּ֧עַל מִשַּׁ֛חַת חַיַּ֖י
יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהָֽי׃
ח בְּהִתְעַטֵּ֤ף עָלַי֙ נַפְשִׁ֔י
אֶת־יְהוָ֖ה זָכָ֑רְתִּי
וַתָּב֤וֹא אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ תְּפִלָּתִ֔י
אֶל־הֵיכַ֖ל קָדְשֶֽׁךָ׃
ט מְשַׁמְּרִ֖ים הַבְלֵי־שָׁ֑וְא
חַסְדָּ֖ם יַעֲזֹֽבוּ׃
י וַאֲנִ֗י בְּק֤וֹל תּוֹדָה֙
אֶזְבְּחָה־לָּ֔ךְ
אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָדַ֖רְתִּי אֲשַׁלֵּ֑מָה
יְשׁוּעָ֖תָה לַיהוָֽה׃ (ס)
‘Out of my distress I cried to YHVH
and he answered me;[10]Cf. Psalms 120:1, Psalms 130:1
from the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you have heard my voice.[11]Cf. Psalms 116:3, Lamentations 3:55
4 You cast me into the abyss, into the heart of the sea,
and the flood surrounded me.
All your waves, your billows,
washed over me.[12]Psalms 42:7
5 And I said: I am cast out
from your sight.[13]Psalms 31:22
How shall I ever look again
on your holy Temple?[14]Psalms 5:7
6 The waters surrounded me right to my throat,
the abyss was all around me.[15]Psalms 69:1
The seaweed was wrapped round my head
7 at the roots of the mountains.[16]Probably the sea bed: this was thought to be the foundation on which the earth rested. 
I went down into the countries underneath the earth,
to the peoples of the past.[17]Text obscure. Others translate ‘I went down to a land whose bars closed on me for ever.'
But you lifted my life from the pit,[18]Psalms 30:3, Psalms 16:10
YHVH, my elo’ah.
8 While my soul was fainting within me,
I remembered YHVH,
and my prayer came before you
into your holy Temple.
9 Those who serve worthless idols
forfeit the grace that was theirs.
10 ‘But I, with a song of praise,
will sacrifice to you.
The vow I have made, I will fulfil.[19]Psalms 22:25, Psalms 116:18
Salvation comes from YHVH.’

יא וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוָ֖ה לַדָּ֑ג וַיָּקֵ֥א אֶת־יוֹנָ֖ה אֶל־הַיַּבָּשָֽׁה׃ (פ)
11 YHVH spoke to the fish, which then vomited Yonah on to the shore.

פרק ג
Chapter 3

א וַיְהִ֧י דְבַר־יְהוָ֛ה אֶל־יוֹנָ֖ה שֵׁנִ֥ית לֵאמֹֽר׃ ב ק֛וּם לֵ֥ךְ אֶל־נִֽינְוֵ֖ה הָעִ֣יר הַגְּדוֹלָ֑ה וִּקְרָ֤א אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ אֶת־הַקְּרִיאָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י דֹּבֵ֥ר אֵלֶֽיךָ׃
1 The word of YHVH was addressed a second time to Yonah: 2 ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’

ג וַיָּ֣קָם יוֹנָ֗ה וַיֵּ֛לֶךְ אֶל־נִֽינְוֶ֖ה כִּדְבַ֣ר יְהוָ֑ה וְנִֽינְוֵ֗ה הָיְתָ֤ה עִיר־גְּדוֹלָה֙ לֵֽאלֹהִ֔ים מַהֲלַ֖ךְ שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִֽים׃
3 Yonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of YHVH. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare:[20]Lit. ‘great before God’, the strongest form of the superlative in Hebrew.; there is a similar hyperbole in the ‘it took three days to cross it’, to evoke the fabulous size of Nineveh. it took three days to cross it.

ד וַיָּ֤חֶל יוֹנָה֙ לָב֣וֹא בָעִ֔יר מַהֲלַ֖ךְ י֣וֹם אֶחָ֑ד וַיִּקְרָא֙ וַיֹּאמַ֔ר ע֚וֹד אַרְבָּעִ֣ים י֔וֹם וְנִֽינְוֵ֖ה נֶהְפָּֽכֶת׃ ה וַֽיַּאֲמִ֛ינוּ אַנְשֵׁ֥י נִֽינְוֵ֖ה בֵּֽאלֹהִ֑ים וַיִּקְרְאוּ־צוֹם֙ וַיִּלְבְּשׁ֣וּ שַׂקִּ֔ים מִגְּדוֹלָ֖ם וְעַד־קְטַנָּֽם׃
4 Yonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more[21]The ‘forty days’ suggest the 40 days of the Flood or the 40 years of Israel in the wilderness; cf. also 1 Kings 19:8. The Greek has ‘Only three days more’, cf. 2:1. and Nineveh is going to be destroyed’. 5 And the people of Nineveh believed in Elohim;[22]The same contrast is drawn in the gospels between the conversion of the Ninevites and the incredulity of the Jews. they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least.

ו וַיִּגַּ֤ע הַדָּבָר֙ אֶל־מֶ֣לֶך נִֽינְוֵ֔ה וַיָּ֙קָם֙ מִכִּסְא֔וֹ וַיַּעֲבֵ֥ר אַדַּרְתּ֖וֹ מֵֽעָלָ֑יו וַיְכַ֣ס שַׂ֔ק וַיֵּ֖שֶׁב עַל־הָאֵֽפֶר׃ ז וַיַּזְעֵ֗ק וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ בְּנִֽינְוֵ֔ה מִטַּ֧עַם הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ וּגְדֹלָ֖יו לֵאמֹ֑ר הָאָדָ֨ם וְהַבְּהֵמָ֜ה הַבָּקָ֣ר וְהַצֹּ֗אן אַֽל־יִטְעֲמוּ֙ מְא֔וּמָה אַ֨ל־יִרְע֔וּ וּמַ֖יִם אַל־יִשְׁתּֽוּ׃ ח וְיִתְכַּסּ֣וּ שַׂקִּ֗ים הָֽאָדָם֙ וְהַבְּהֵמָ֔ה וְיִקְרְא֥וּ אֶל־אֱלֹהִ֖ים בְּחָזְקָ֑ה וְיָשֻׁ֗בוּ אִ֚ישׁ מִדַּרְכּ֣וֹ הָֽרָעָ֔ה וּמִן־הֶחָמָ֖ס אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּכַפֵּיהֶֽם׃ ט מִֽי־יוֹדֵ֣עַ יָשׁ֔וּב וְנִחַ֖ם הָאֱלֹהִ֑ים וְשָׁ֛ב מֵחֲר֥וֹן אַפּ֖וֹ וְלֹ֥א נֹאבֵֽד׃
6 The news reached the king of Nineveh, who rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes.[23]This whole description of repentance and conversion is the antithesis of Jr 36. cf. Introduction to the Prophets; it is furthermore full of Phrases characteristic of Jeremiah. 7 A proclamation was then promulgated throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his ministers, as follows: ‘Men and beasts, herds and flocks, are to taste nothing; they must not eat, they must not drink water. 8 All [men] and beasts,[24]Greek omits ‘and beasts’. are to put on sackcloth and call on Elohim with all their might; and let everyone renounce his evil behaviour and the wicked things he has done.[25]Joel 2:14 9 Who knows if Elohim will not change his mind and relent, if he will not renounce his burning wrath, so that we do not perish?’

י וַיַּ֤רְא הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ אֶֽת־מַ֣עֲשֵׂיהֶ֔ם כִּי־שָׁ֖בוּ מִדַּרְכָּ֣ם הָרָעָ֑ה וַיִּנָּ֣חֶם הָאֱלֹהִ֗ים עַל־הָרָעָ֛ה אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר לַעֲשׂוֹת־לָהֶ֖ם וְלֹ֥א עָשָֽׂה׃
10 Elohim saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour.[26]Genesis 6:6+, Jeremiah 26:3 And Elohim relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.

פרק ד
Chapter 4

א וַיֵּ֥רַע אֶל־יוֹנָ֖ה רָעָ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֑ה וַיִּ֖חַר לֽוֹ׃
1 Yonah was very indignant at this; he fell into a rage.

ב וַיִּתְפַּלֵּ֨ל אֶל־יְהוָ֜ה וַיֹּאמַ֗ר אָנָּ֤ה יְהוָה֙ הֲלוֹא־זֶ֣ה דְבָרִ֗י עַד־הֱיוֹתִי֙ עַל־אַדְמָתִ֔י עַל־כֵּ֥ן קִדַּ֖מְתִּי לִבְרֹ֣חַ תַּרְשִׁ֑ישָׁה כִּ֣י יָדַ֗עְתִּי כִּ֤י אַתָּה֙ אֵֽל־חַנּ֣וּן וְרַח֔וּם אֶ֤רֶךְ אַפַּ֙יִם֙ וְרַב־חֶ֔סֶד וְנִחָ֖ם עַל־הָרָעָֽה׃ ג וְעַתָּ֣ה יְהוָ֔ה קַח־נָ֥א אֶת־נַפְשִׁ֖י מִמֶּ֑נִּי כִּ֛י ט֥וֹב מוֹתִ֖י מֵחַיָּֽי׃ (ס)
2 He prayed to YHVH and said, ‘Ah! YHVH, is not this just as I said would happen when I was still at home? That was why I went and fled to Tarshish: I knew that you were an el[27]lit. ‘god' of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, relenting from evil.[28]Exodus 34:6-7, Psalms 103:8-10 3 So now YHVH, please take away my life, for I might as well be dead as go on living.’[29]1 Kings 19:4, Tobit 3:6

ד וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֔ה הַהֵיטֵ֖ב חָ֥רָה לָֽךְ׃
4 YHVH replied, ‘Are you right to be angry?’

ה וַיֵּצֵ֤א יוֹנָה֙ מִן־הָעִ֔יר וַיֵּ֖שֶׁב מִקֶּ֣דֶם לָעִ֑יר וַיַּעַשׂ֩ ל֨וֹ שָׁ֜ם סֻכָּ֗ה וַיֵּ֤שֶׁב תַּחְתֶּ֙יהָ֙ בַּצֵּ֔ל עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִרְאֶ֔ה מַה־יִּהְיֶ֖ה בָּעִֽיר׃
5 Yonah then went out of the city and sat down to the east of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, to see what would happen to the city.

ו וַיְמַ֣ן יְהוָֽה־אֱ֠לֹהִים קִיקָי֞וֹן וַיַּ֣עַל ׀ מֵעַ֣ל לְיוֹנָ֗ה לִֽהְי֥וֹת צֵל֙ עַל־רֹאשׁ֔וֹ לְהַצִּ֥יל ל֖וֹ מֵרָֽעָת֑וֹ וַיִּשְׂמַ֥ח יוֹנָ֛ה עַל־הַקִּֽיקָי֖וֹן שִׂמְחָ֥ה גְדוֹלָֽה׃ ז וַיְמַ֤ן הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙ תּוֹלַ֔עַת בַּעֲל֥וֹת הַשַּׁ֖חַר לַֽמָּחֳרָ֑ת וַתַּ֥ךְ אֶת־הַקִּֽיקָי֖וֹן וַיִּיבָֽשׁ׃ ח וַיְהִ֣י ׀ כִּזְרֹ֣חַ הַשֶּׁ֗מֶשׁ וַיְמַ֨ן אֱלֹהִ֜ים ר֤וּחַ קָדִים֙ חֲרִישִׁ֔ית וַתַּ֥ךְ הַשֶּׁ֛מֶשׁ עַל־רֹ֥אשׁ יוֹנָ֖ה וַיִּתְעַלָּ֑ף וַיִּשְׁאַ֤ל אֶת־נַפְשׁוֹ֙ לָמ֔וּת וַיֹּ֕אמֶר ט֥וֹב מוֹתִ֖י מֵחַיָּֽי׃
6 Then YHVH Elohim arranged that a qiqayon[30]Tolkien identifies the ‘qiqayon’ as the “castor-oil plant.” For more on the qiqayon in its Mediterranean and Mesopotamian context, see Gildas Hamel’s article “Taking the Argo to Nineveh: Jonah and Jason in a Mediterranean Context.” should grow up over Yonah to give shade for his head and soothe his ill-humour; Yonah was delighted with the qiqayon. 7 But at dawn the next day, Elohim arranged that a worm should attack the qiqayon—and it withered. 8 Next, when the sun rose, Elohim arranged that there should be a scorching east wind; the sun beat down so hard on Yonah’s head that he was overcome and begged for death, saying, ‘I might as well be dead as go on living’.[31]1 Kings 19:4

ט וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־יוֹנָ֔ה הַהֵיטֵ֥ב חָרָֽה־לְךָ֖ עַל־הַקִּֽיקָי֑וֹן וַיֹּ֕אמֶר הֵיטֵ֥ב חָֽרָה־לִ֖י עַד־מָֽוֶת׃ י וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֔ה אַתָּ֥ה חַ֙סְתָּ֙ עַל־הַקִּ֣יקָי֔וֹן אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹא־עָמַ֥לְתָּ בּ֖וֹ וְלֹ֣א גִדַּלְתּ֑וֹ שֶׁבִּן־לַ֥יְלָה הָיָ֖ה וּבִן־לַ֥יְלָה אָבָֽד׃ יא וַֽאֲנִי֙ לֹ֣א אָח֔וּס עַל־נִינְוֵ֖ה הָעִ֣יר הַגְּדוֹלָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֶשׁ־בָּ֡הּ הַרְבֵּה֩ מִֽשְׁתֵּים־עֶשְׂרֵ֨ה רִבּ֜וֹ אָדָ֗ם אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־יָדַע֙ בֵּין־יְמִינ֣וֹ לִשְׂמֹאל֔וֹ וּבְהֵמָ֖ה רַבָּֽה׃
9 Elohim said to Yonah, ‘Are you right to be angry about the qiqayon?’ He replied, ‘I have every right to be angry, to the point of death’. 10 YHVH replied, ‘You are only upset about a qiqayon which cost you no labour, which you did not make grow, which sprouted in a night and has perished in a night. 11 And am I not to feel sorry for Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, to say nothing of all the animals?’[32]This final chapter ends with the note of God’s mercy on all his creatures.

This is the Masoretic text of Megillat Yonah set side-by-side with its translation, made by J.R.R. Tolkien for the Jerusalem Bible (1966). I have replaced anglicized names with romanizations from the Hebrew and replaced the “castor-oil plant” with the mysterious hapax legomenon ‘qiqayon’ in the Hebrew. I have also replaced the divine names ‘Yahweh’ with YHVH, and ‘God’ with Elohim (and ‘god’ with el or elo’ah) where appropriate. Tolkien, or an editor, indicated where the Hebrew deviated from the Greek of the Septuagint. In such cases, I have added the English translation of the Hebrew in the footnote to the maintext. For references to Christian literature as published in the Jerusalem Bible, please consult the latter. –Aharon N. Varady

Megillat Yonah is traditionally read on Yom haKippurim.

Source(s)

Notes   [ + ]

  1. For the Hebrews. ‘Tarshish’, cf. 1 Kings 10:1 +: Ps 48:7 +. represented the end of the world: Yonah goes as far as he can to escape his duty.
  2. Cf. Psalms 107:23-30
  3. The sailors are from different countries: each has his own god but believes in the power of other gods as well.
  4. The belief that a ship is endangered by having a guilty man on board is found elsewhere among the Ancients.
  5. Hebr. inserts ‘who is responsible for bringing this evil on us‘. a gloss from v. 7; Greek omits.
  6. Psalms 107:28 and Jeremiah 26:15
  7. The author emphasises the piety of the pagan sailors: they are scandalised that Yonah should disobey Yahweh, v. 10. fear to offend YHVH by sacrificing Yonah, v. 14. and offer worship to Yonah’s god whose power they recognise.
  8. On this fish and the other prodigies, of which the author is fond, see Introduction to the Prophets.
  9. This song is a mosaic of Psalm-texts and is constructed on the conventional pattern of thanksgiving psalms: description of sufferings undergone, account of deliverance from them. For the psalmists, grave danger is a ‘death’ and deliverance a ‘resurrection’; cf. here w. 6,7,8. The sea, God’s primordial ‘enemy’, cf. Job 7:12+, is seen either as the kingdom of death itself or at least as the way that leads to it.
  10. Cf. Psalms 120:1, Psalms 130:1
  11. Cf. Psalms 116:3, Lamentations 3:55
  12. Psalms 42:7
  13. Psalms 31:22
  14. Psalms 5:7
  15. Psalms 69:1
  16. Probably the sea bed: this was thought to be the foundation on which the earth rested.
  17. Text obscure. Others translate ‘I went down to a land whose bars closed on me for ever.'
  18. Psalms 30:3, Psalms 16:10
  19. Psalms 22:25, Psalms 116:18
  20. Lit. ‘great before God’, the strongest form of the superlative in Hebrew.; there is a similar hyperbole in the ‘it took three days to cross it’, to evoke the fabulous size of Nineveh.
  21. The ‘forty days’ suggest the 40 days of the Flood or the 40 years of Israel in the wilderness; cf. also 1 Kings 19:8. The Greek has ‘Only three days more’, cf. 2:1.
  22. The same contrast is drawn in the gospels between the conversion of the Ninevites and the incredulity of the Jews.
  23. This whole description of repentance and conversion is the antithesis of Jr 36. cf. Introduction to the Prophets; it is furthermore full of Phrases characteristic of Jeremiah.
  24. Greek omits ‘and beasts’.
  25. Joel 2:14
  26. Genesis 6:6+, Jeremiah 26:3
  27. lit. ‘god'
  28. Exodus 34:6-7, Psalms 103:8-10
  29. 1 Kings 19:4, Tobit 3:6
  30. Tolkien identifies the ‘qiqayon’ as the “castor-oil plant.” For more on the qiqayon in its Mediterranean and Mesopotamian context, see Gildas Hamel’s article “Taking the Argo to Nineveh: Jonah and Jason in a Mediterranean Context.”
  31. 1 Kings 19:4
  32. This final chapter ends with the note of God’s mercy on all his creatures.

Comments, Corrections, and Queries


בסיעתא דארעא