NGANA, U. A.
Ugwueye, L. E.
This dissertation is a hermeneutical study of Jonah 1:1-3; 3:4 in the light of Jonah 2:1-11 and it’s relevance to contemporary Nigeria. Misinterpretation, misconception, misunderstanding and misrepresentation of biblical passages most often have led to error and crisis of faith. The present Christian faithful and the readers of Jonah also fall victim to Jonahic misinterpretation. Jonah 1:1-3 forms the background and as the introduction to the understanding of Jonah 3:4. Jonah’s prophetic oracle in 3:4 simply is עוֺד אַרְבָעִים יוֺם וְנִינְוֵה נֶהְפָכֶת׃ “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overturned”. This is often misunderstood and mostly taken as a time limit for the destruction of the people of Nineveh. The word נֶהְפָּכֶת ‘overturn’ was used to depict the violent fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:21, 25, 29). The destruction of these cities was remembered by the biblical writers as a dramatic instance of God’s punishment (Deuteronomy 29:23; Isaiah 13:19). Those hearing this word literally used in connection with the message to the people of Nineveh would be reminded of the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jonah 2:1-11 gives clearly the picture of God’s intention in relation to Jonah and offers further understanding of 3:4. This study applies the veritable instrument of exegetico-hermeneutical method of Old Testament interpretation and extra-biblical sources for data collection. Therefore, this dissertation’s specific aims are to investigate the initial commissioning of Jonah by Yahweh in Jonah 1:1-3 in order to understand the background to the message, to examine the possible message of Yahweh to Nineveh in Jonah 3:4., to explore this message of Yahweh to people of Nineveh in the light of Jonah 2:1-11, and finally to evaluate implications of this message in the life of Nigerian Christians. It observed that the verb form of נֶהְפָּכֶת ‘overturn’ here occurs in the reflexive or passive aspect of the verb, thus allowing for the possibility that the overturning means the city turning itself around. It further revealed that Jonah’s radical turn to God, promise of sacrifice, keeping of the vows he has made and above all declaring יְשׁוּעָתה לַיהוָה׃ (that deliverance belongs to the Lord) granted his deliverance from the belly of the fish. Yahweh desires to save his people once they repent from their wickedness. The research showed that repentance is the climax and the essence of prophecy of Jonah. It showed that wickedness/sin is detested by God at all times and no one can claim monopoly of God’s love. This message has hermeneutical application to Nigeria. The research recommends that the preachers of the gospel must constantly cry out against all forms of evil in the society. They should dwell more on God’s mercy and love in their proclamation of the message of God. God is free and his will supersedes human will. Finally in order to live harmoniously with other people, Christians should guard against any form of discrimination or prejudice.