Thursday, March 7, 2013

Strange therapy for a depressed man

Depressed and very angry Jonah sat to the east from the city and builds a booth, in Hebrew סכּה sukka. From its shadow he was watching what will happen to Nineveh. The awful time of forced preaching was over and the stupid citizens repented. But perhaps there was still a change that God would change His mind and Nineveh would be destroyed by fire and brimstone raining from heaven. Jonah sat and waited.

Instead of just trying to talk with Jonah, the chosen messenger who had turned out to be a very stubborn and difficult character, God takes some action to help him out of his depression.

In an act of kindness God the Therapist grows a leafy plant to give Jonah better shadow. [The Hebrew word is קיקיון qiqayon of uncertain meaning. King James Version translated it as (nauseous) gourd.]

So where did the booth disappear?  Is there a logical break between the two paragraphs or should we see the (presumably) leafy qiqayon plant as a significant addition to the protection from heat Jonah's own boot had provided?

Result: Jonah was exceedingly happy about this plant.


Reversing the act of kindness God prepares (מנה manah) a worm ( תּולע tol'eah) to strike (נכה nakah) the pleasant plant and it withered.

Nice going, God, real psychotherapy to help a distressed sad man!

And as if that is not enough, the Great Helper did this:
"When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint." 
Jonah 4:8

Huh. This already sounds like soft torturing of mind and body.
Result Jonah wanted to die

The Healer next discusses the events with the patient:
God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
Jonah 4:9 

The question is rather similar to the real issue at hand but concerns something much more simple and manageable, the fate of a plant that grew up yesterday and died today.

Jonah is as angry about the death of the plant as he is angry about God's mercy to the Assyrians:
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
Jonah 4:9 

Single minded fellow, isn't he?

That does not seem to lead to anything but God continues giving explanation to the parable of the leafy plant and the worm - the meaning of the Sign.

But 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 

Result: we do not know! 

What a surprising description of a therapy session...

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