The 25th Day of the Blessed Month of Tout
Departure of Jonah the Great Prophet
On this day departed the great prophet Jonah, the son of Amittai. It was said that he was the son of the widon of Zarephatah whom Elijah the prophet had raised from the dead. Jonah followed Elijah and served him and gained the grace of prophesying. God, blessed and exalted, told him to go to the city of Nineveh to admonish its people and to tell them that after forty days the city shall be overthrown. Jonah pondered in his heart saying, "If God wished to destroy them He would not warn them. I am afraid if I go to them and preach this warning to them, they might repent and He would not destroy them and I shall be a liar and no one will listen to me and maybe I will get killed becuase I conveyed to them a false message from God. I will arise and flee."
What did this prophet think of ? How could anyone flee from the face of God ? By escaping, he wanted to get away from the city of Nineveh because he did not want to admonish them knowing that God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and repentent of the evil. He thought that by staying away from Nineveh the Lord would send another prophet to preach to this city. The escape of Jonah the prophet and his having been cast into the city are to make manifest the miracle of his remaining in the belly of the whale for three days and the coming out safely. It is a symbol of, and evidence for, the resurrection of our Savior from the sepulchre, unchanged, after three days. Jonah rose up to flee from the presence of the Lord and went down to Joppa; he found a ship going to Tarshish and sailed on it. The Lord sent out a great wind and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken. The people were all afraid, and cried every man to his god. They said everyone to his fellow, "Come and let us cast lots, that we may know because of whom this evil has befallen us." And when they had cast lots, it fell upon Jonah. They said to him, "What have you done that brought such an affliction on us ?" He replied, "Cast me in the sea and you shall be saved." They begged the Lord's pardon. Then they cast him into the sea, and a great whale swallowed him. He remained in its belly for three days and three nights and then he was cast out on the seashore. He rose up straightaway and came into Nineveh. He preached to its people and they all repented: The King, the nobles, and the poor, the old and the young. They all cried to God with fasting and everyone turned from their way, and the Lord accepted their repentance and had mercy upon them.
Then Jonah rose up and returned to the land of Israel and died there. He was more than 900 years before the advent of the Lord Christ. He prophesied in the days of Amos and his son Hosea. He lived nearly 100 years, out of which he prophesied more than 70 years.
May his prayers and blessings be with us all, and Glory be to God forever. Amen.