ELISHA AND THE BOW; JONAH AND NINEVEH
II Kings xiii: 1 to 25; Jonah i: 1, to iv: 11.
FTER Jehu, his son Jehoahaz reigned in Israel. He was
not only a wicked but also a weak king; and under him
Israel became helpless in the hands of its enemies,
Hazael, the fierce king of Syria, and his son,
Ben-hadad the second. But when Jehoahaz died, his son
Joash became king, and under his rule Israel began to
Elisha, the prophet, was now an old man, and very
feeble, and near to death. The young king, Joash, came
to see him, and wept over him, and said to him, as
Elisha himself had said to Elijah (Story 82),
"My father, my father, you are to Israel more
than its chariots and its horsemen!"
But Elisha, though weak in body, was yet strong in
soul. He told King Joash to bring to him a bow and
arrows, and to open the window to the east, looking
toward the land of Syria. Then Elisha caused the king
to draw the bow, and he placed his hands on the king's
hands. And as the king shot an arrow, Elisha said,
"This is the Lord's arrow of victory, of victory over
Syria, for you shall smite the Syrians in Aphek, and
shall destroy them."
KING JOASH SHOOTING THE ARROW
Then Elisha told the king to take the arrows, and to
strike with them on the ground. The king struck them
on the ground three times, and then stopped striking.
The old prophet was displeased at this, and said, "Why
did you stop? You should have struck the ground five
or six times; then you would have won as many victories
over Syria; but now you shall beat the Syrians three
times, and no more."
Soon after this Elisha died, and they buried him in a
cave. In the spring of the next year the bands of the
Moabites came upon the
 place just as they were burying
another man, and in their haste to escape from the
enemies they placed the body in the cave where Elisha
was buried. When the body of this man touched the body
of the dead prophet, life came to it, and the man stood
up. Thus, even after Elisha was dead, he still had
After the death of Elisha, Joash, the king of Israel,
made war upon Ben-hadad the second, king of Syria.
Joash beat him three times in battle, and took from him
all the cities that Hazael, his father, had taken away
from Israel. And after Joash, his son Jeroboam the
second reigned, who became the greatest of all the
kings of the Ten Tribes. Under him the kingdom grew
rich and strong. He conquered nearly all Syria, and
made Samaria the greatest city in all those lands.
But though Syria went down, another nation was now
rising to power, Assyria, on the eastern side of the
river Tigris. Its capital was Nineveh, a great city,
so vast that it would take three days for a man to walk
around its walls. The Assyrians were beginning to
conquer all the lands near them, and Israel was in
danger of falling under their power. At this time
another prophet, named Jonah, was giving the word of
the Lord to the Israelites. To Jonah the Lord spoke,
saying, "Go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to
it, for its wickedness rises up before me."
But Jonah did not wish to preach to the people of
Nineveh, for they were the enemies of his land, the
land of Israel. He wished Nineveh to die in its sins,
and not to turn to God and live. So Jonah tried to go
away from the city where God had sent him. He went down
to Joppa, upon the shore of the Great Sea. There he
found a ship about to sail to Tarshish, far away in the
west. He paid the fare, and went on board, intending to
go as far as possible from Nineveh.
But the Lord saw Jonah on the ship, and the Lord sent a
great storm upon the sea, so that the ship seemed as
though it would go in pieces. The sailors threw overboard
everything on the ship, and when they could do no more,
every man prayed to his god to save the ship and
themselves. Jonah was now lying fast asleep under the
deck of the ship, and the ship's captain came to him,
and said, "What do you mean by sleeping in such a time
as this? Awake, rise up, and call upon your God.
Perhaps your God will hear you, and will save our
 But the storm continued to rage around the ship, and
they said, "There is some man on this ship who has
brought upon us this trouble. Let us cast lots, and
find who it is."
Then they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. They
said to him, all at once, "Tell us, who are you? From
what country do you come? What is your business? To
what people do you belong? Why have you brought all this
trouble upon us?" Then Jonah told them the whole
story: how he came from the land of Israel, and that
he had fled away from the presence of the Lord. And
they said to him, "What shall we do to you, that the
storm may cease?" Then Jonah said, "Take me up, and
throw me into the sea; then the storm will cease, and
the waters will be calm; for I know that for my sake
this great tempest is upon you."
But the men were not willing to throw Jonah into the
sea. They rowed hard to bring the ship to land, but
they could not. Then they cried unto the Lord, and
said, "We pray thee, O Lord, we pray thee, let us not
die for this man's life; for thou, O Lord,
 hast done as
it pleased thee." At last, when they could do nothing
else to save themselves, they threw Jonah into the sea.
At once the storm ceased, and the waves became still.
Then the men on the ship feared the Lord greatly. They
offered a sacrifice to the Lord, and made promises to
JONAH THROWN OVERBOARD BY THE SAILORS
And the Lord caused a great fish to swallow up Jonah;
and Jonah was alive within the fish for three days and
three nights. Long afterward, when Jesus was on the
earth, he said that as Jonah was three days inside the
fish, so he would be three days in the earth; so Jonah
in the fish was like a prophecy of Christ. In the fish
Jonah cried to the Lord; and the Lord heard his prayer,
and caused the great fish to throw up Jonah upon the
By this time Jonah had learned that some men who
worshipped idols were kind in their hearts, and were
dear to the Lord. This was the lesson that God meant
Jonah to learn; and now the call of the Lord came to
Jonah a second time.
"Arise; go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to
it what I command you."
So Jonah went to the city of Nineveh, and as he entered
into it, he called out to the people, "Within forty
days shall Nineveh be destroyed." And he walked through
the city all day, crying out only this, "Within forty
days shall Nineveh be destroyed."
And the people of Nineveh believed the word of the Lord
as spoken by Jonah. They turned away from their sins,
and fasted, and sought the Lord, from the greatest of
them even to the least. The king of Nineveh arose from
his throne, and laid aside his royal robes, and covered
himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes, as a sign of
his sorrow. And the king sent out a command to his
people, that they should fast, and seek the Lord, and
turn from sin.
 And God saw that the people of Nineveh were sorry for
their wickedness, and he forgave them, and did not
destroy their city. But this made Jonah very angry.
He did not wish to have Nineveh spared, because it was
the enemy of his own land, and also he feared that men
would call him a false prophet when his word did not
come to pass. And Jonah said to the Lord:
"O Lord, I was sure that it would be thus, that thou
wouldest spare the city; and for that reason I tried to
flee away; for I knew that thou wast a gracious God,
full of pity, slow to anger, and rich in mercy. Now, O
Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die
than to live."
And Jonah went out of the city, and built a little hut
on the east side of it, and sat under its roof, to see
whether God would keep the word that he had spoken.
Then the Lord caused a plant with thick leaves called a
gourd to grow up, and to shade Jonah from the sun; and
Jonah was glad, and sat under its shadow. But a worm
destroyed the plant; and the next day a hot wind blew,
and Jonah suffered from the heat; and again Jonah
wished that he might die. And the Lord said to Jonah,
"You were sorry to see the plant die, though you did
not make it grow, and though it came up in a night and
died in a night. And should not I have pity on
Nineveh, that great city, where are more than a hundred
thousand little children, and also many cattle, all
helpless and knowing nothing?"
JONAH AND HIS GOURD
And Jonah learned that men, and women, and little
children, are all precious in the sight of the Lord,
even though they know not God.
In most of the books of the Old Testament, we read of
the Israelite people, and of God's care of them; but we
do not find in the Old Testament much about God as the
Father of all men of every nation and every land. The
book of Jonah stands almost alone in the Old Testament,
as showing that God loves people of other nations than
Israel. Even the people of Nineveh, who worshipped
images, were under God's love; God was ready to hear
their prayer and to save them. So the book of Jonah
shows us God as "our heavenly Father."