Monday, March 4, 2013

Jonah's prayer - Back from the Pit

Jonah Leaving the Whale
Jan Brueghel the Elder, ca. 1600
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Strangely contradictory is the way Jonah feels banished from the presence of God and yet hopes to see again the Temple. It is mentioned twice in the prayer.
I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
Jonah 2:4 NIV
Jonah was to be forever buried under earth at the very roots of mountains - but God had other plans for him.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
Jonah 2:4 NIV

Jonah's prayer at the moment of death reflects the importance of the Temple of Jerusalem for Jews. It was the only place where sacrifices were allowed. It was commonly perceived as the abode of God among His people although there is quite heated discourse on the subject in the Bible emphasizing that the earthly temple was only a model of the one in Heaven.
When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
Jonah 2:7 NIV

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