Friday, February 7, 2014

Jonah: Out of the Depths—Resurrection

Jonah and the Whale, by Alma Sheppard-Matsuo

Cover art, Jonah and the Whale, by Alma Sheppard-Matsuo
Photo provided courtesy of the artist.
Originally posted here on Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life:
In the Story of Jonah, an Urgent Lesson
About the Dangers of Solitary Confinement

Poem series on the book of Jonah
By Robbie Pruitt, © January 7, 2014

Artwork by Jack Baumgartner
Photos used courtesy of the artist.
For more artwork by Jack, 
visit The School of the Transfer of Energy:

Jonah, by Albert Pinkham Ryder, 
public domain from Wikimedia Commons

Jonah Chapter One
Jonah (in progress), by Jack Baumgartner,

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”  –Jonah 1:1-3, NIV

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”  –Luke 15:20, NIV

“Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’”  –Luke 19:9-10, NIV

Jonah: The Man Who Ran

To that great city, Nineveh,
Jonah, go and cry
For the sins of this people
They shall surely die

Jonah, the man that ran
Fled to Tarshish
To avoid that land
But he did not escape God’s hand

He boarded the boat at Joppa
To escape his task
No one seemed to notice
And no one cared to ask

Then, a storm arose on the sea
All were tossed in violent rage
In fear they screamed out,
“What is this all about?”

They prayed to their gods
While Jonah slept sound
The people were in a panic
They began to gather round

“Awake you sleeper,” they cried.
“Pray to your god so we will stay alive”
“This is because of me,” Jonah said.
“Throw me in or you will all be dead!”

They began to row to land
Not wanting his blood on their hands
They prayed to the Lord
And threw Jonah overboard

The sea grew calm and stayed
And these men were so afraid
Jonah’s God listened as they prayed
In gratitude, great sacrifices were paid

God provided a huge fish
And it swallowed Jonah whole
Jonah was hardened and rebellious
And this was about to take its toll

© January 7, 2014, by Robbie Pruitt

Jonah (1998), by Jack Baumgartner,

The Sign of Jonah

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’ He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.”  –Matthew 12:38-42, NIV

Jonah Chapter Two

Jonah, by Albert Pinkham Ryder, 
public domain, Wikimedia Commons

“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, 
and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”  Jonah 2:7, NIV

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”  –Psalm 22:1, NIV

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”  –Psalm 40:1-3, NIV


Into the abyss
Over the hull
Into the sea
Sin’s consequences
Wrapped around me
From the tall weeds
Come my pleas for mercy
Your grace envelops
Like an ocean’s tide
Swallowed by Your leniency
In Your love I abide
Your love—even here
It holds me near
Wrapped in seaweed
Covered in guilt and shame
But your salvation overcame
The grip loosened from my neck
Breath returned and the blood flowed—Life!
Hope illuminated the darkness and strife
In the bowels of earth where mountains take root
My prison cell—a shadowy hell—and here You save
I see you now, up on Your throne of glory ray
In Your Holy Temple You listen as I pray
May I not turn to idols from Your great Love
But sacrifice to You oh God above
“Salvation comes from the Lord.”
My God will lead me to the surface!
For His good purpose
Resurrection—the shoreline of eternity
Out from the tangle of seaweed
I will walk in Your purpose for me

© January 7, 2014, by Robbie Pruitt

Jonah Chapter Three

The Whale (1998), by Jack Baumgartner,

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’ Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.’ The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.”  –Jonah 3:1-5, NIV

Jonah: The Sermon and the Land

“Heed my call and preach my Word,”
The Lord declared and Jonah conceded the call
He journeyed to Nineveh for the sake of them all

“Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

The one true God of Israel will be known.
The Ninevites believed God, repented and fasted
Jonah knew their rebellion would not have lasted

The king of Nineveh tore his robe and repented
He proclaimed a fast and they all turned to God
And for their obedience God spared His rod

© January 7, 2014, by Robbie Pruitt

Jonah Chapter Four

Jonah and the Gourd Vine (1999), by Jack Baumgartner,

“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.’”  –Jonah 4:1-2, NIV

“The Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?’”  –Jonah 4:10-11, NIV

Jonah: The Vine and the City

Jonah, the pouting prophet,
Knew what God would do
If God would spare him,
God would spare Nineveh too.

Jonah was angry and indignant.
He despised this Ninevite people.
And knew what their salvation meant.
Jonah was at his threshold. He was spent.

“Isn’t this what I said, Lord?” Jonah prayed.
“I knew you were gracious and compassionate
Slow to anger and abounding in love . . .
This is why I tried to run away!”

“Is it right for you to be angry?” the Lord replied.
Jonah just sat there wishing he had died.
God gave Jonah a shady plant to sit under and morn.
But when God made it die, he wished he had never been born.

“Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” God said.
“You care more for it than you do for the people.”
God continued, “If I could spare you the vine,
Should I not also spare this City of mine?”

© January 7, 2014, by Robbie Pruitt

The Ancient Ocean (in progress), by Jack Baumgartner,


  1. I think it's a wonderful story.. you captured it well.. I read it through.. and to me there are many lessons to learn from the stories of the bible... mostly as metaphors of caring...

    1. Thanks Bjorn! Appreciate the comment and the time you took to read. Peace.

  2. Lots of work went into this creating these poems. A well-done recreation of the story, Robbie!

    1. Maureen, thank you for your feedback. This means so much coming from you. I appreciate your work and enjoy interacting with it over at Tweetspeak poetry.