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Jonah 3

Jonah goes to Nineveh

1 The LORD spoke to Jonah for the second time. 2 He said, ‘Go to the large, important city called Nineveh. Tell all the people there the message that I will give to you.’ 3 Jonah obeyed the LORD and he went to Nineveh.

Nineveh was a very large city. A person would need three days to travel all through it.

4 Jonah started to travel into the city. When he had travelled for a day, he shouted out to the people. He said, ‘40 more days and God will destroy Nineveh.’

3:4Jonah may have said the 8 words that we read here. Or he may have said more than that.

5 The people who lived in Nineveh believed God. They were ashamed about how they had lived. So they told everyone that they must not eat anything for several days. All the people put sackcloth on. The most important people and the least important people did that.

6 When the king of Nineveh heard about this, he got up from his throne. He took off his king's clothes. He covered himself with sackcloth and he sat down on the dirty ground.

3:6The king's land would be much larger than a city. The writer uses the words ‘king of Nineveh’ here because the book is about Nineveh. It is not about all the powerful countries that he ruled as a group.

7 Then the king spoke to all the people in Nineveh. He said, ‘I and the important people who work for me have made a rule. No man or animal or any group of animals must taste anything. They must not eat or drink. 8 Men and women must cover themselves with sackcloth. They must cover all the animals with sackcloth, too. Everyone must shout in a loud voice to God. They must do this immediately. Everyone must do good things, not bad things. They must not fight other people. They must not be cruel people any longer. 9 Nobody knows what will happen. Even now, God may change his mind. He may not be angry any longer. He may be kind to us and so we may not die.’

3:9In the past, God had destroyed some towns called Sodom and Gomorrah. The people in those towns had done cruel things. But God had not spoken to the people there first. He destroyed the towns immediately.

10 God saw what the people in Nineveh did. He saw that they did good things now. They no longer did wrong things. So he was kind to them. He did not destroy their city as he had said.