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Quiz about The Prophet Who Ran Away From God
Quiz about The Prophet Who Ran Away From God

The Prophet Who Ran Away From God Quiz


Some not-so-simple questions about what makes the Jonah story special. Maybe you'll notice something about the tale you've never seen before. Enjoy! (All quotes are from the JPS translation.)

A multiple-choice quiz by jwerth. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Author
jwerth
Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
306,012
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Tough
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
882
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 67 (8/10), wellenbrecher (10/10), Guest 102 (9/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. It's hard to read this dramatic tale without wondering what Jonah's life is like when he isn't in a huge fight with God. What personal detail of Jonah's life does the Book of Jonah reveal about its protagonist? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. As the Book of Jonah opens, the first thing God says to Jonah is (1:2) "Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim judgment upon it, for their wickedness has come before Me." What's the first thing Jonah says to God after receiving this prophecy? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. When God commands Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah initially does something no other prophet does after receiving a divine mission. What does Jonah do? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Jonah's ship to Tarshish is caught up in a violent storm of divine origin, and Jonah is ultimately hurled overboard by the frightened sailors. Whom do the sailors blame for Jonah's (apparent) death? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. Jonah is saved from drowning when God causes a big fish to swallow the prophet. While in the belly of the fish, Jonah composes a prayer to God. Which of the following is NOT mentioned in Jonah's prayer? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. After Jonah is spit out onto dry land by the fish, he obeys God's second summons to Nineveh and arrives in the city with a dire message. "40 days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown," Jonah proclaims (3:4). How do the people of Nineveh react to this grim announcement? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. It's unusual, in the Hebrew Bible, for an Israelite prophet to receive a message solely meant for a gentile community. But what makes Nineveh an especially strange city for Jonah to be sent to save? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. It's not until the fourth chapter of the Book of Jonah that we finally learn why Jonah initially ran away from God. What was Jonah's reason? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. To teach Jonah a lesson, God "provides" three things in nature. What are they? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. The first reason God gives for saving the people of Nineveh is that God created them and cares about them. What is the other reason God gives for sparing Nineveh? Hint



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Most Recent Scores
Jun 24 2024 : Guest 67: 8/10
Jun 07 2024 : wellenbrecher: 10/10
May 25 2024 : Guest 102: 9/10
May 24 2024 : Guest 102: 8/10

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quiz
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. It's hard to read this dramatic tale without wondering what Jonah's life is like when he isn't in a huge fight with God. What personal detail of Jonah's life does the Book of Jonah reveal about its protagonist?

Answer: Nothing--all we know about Jonah is that God talks to him.

Absolutely no personal details about the prophet are given in the Book of Jonah at all. Unlike other prophets whose occupation, families, and time period are described (the life story of Moses, for example, is told in great detail), Jonah is essentially a blank slate.

From a single verse in 2 Kings, however (14:25), we learn that Jonah lived and prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II (roughly 790-750 BCE)--much later than the reign of King Solomon! But even 2 Kings is silent about the other personal details of Jonah's life.
2. As the Book of Jonah opens, the first thing God says to Jonah is (1:2) "Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim judgment upon it, for their wickedness has come before Me." What's the first thing Jonah says to God after receiving this prophecy?

Answer: "In my trouble I called out to the Lord, and He answered me."

One of the important (and puzzling) things about the Jonah story is that Jonah doesn't try to argue with God--he just hops up and runs away. Jonah doesn't say a thing to God until he winds up in the belly of the fish and has to ask God for a second chance. "In my trouble I called out to the Lord, and He answered me" is the opening of Jonah's prayer from the fish in 2:3. It's also the only answer here that isn't an objection.

Jonah's decision not to argue with God is striking because there's such a strong tradition of prophets in the Bible arguing with God. All of the incorrect answers were famous examples of this tradition:

"Will you sweep away the innocent along with the guilty?" is what Abraham said to God in Genesis 18:23, in an attempt to convince God not to destroy the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

"What if they do not believe me and do not listen to me?" is Moses's objection at the burning bush in Exodus 4:1. Moses doesn't want to accept the overwhelming task of leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.

"Woe is me; I am lost! For I am a man of unclean lips" is Isaiah's frightened initial reaction to his first prophecy in Isaiah 6:5. Ultimately Isaiah accepts his mission as a prophet, but his first vision of God terrifies him and makes him feel unworthy of prophecy.
3. When God commands Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah initially does something no other prophet does after receiving a divine mission. What does Jonah do?

Answer: Jonah heads off in the exact opposite direction from Nineveh.

Jonah buys passage aboard a ship sailing to Tarshish. Though scholars aren't sure exactly where Tarshish was (theories range from Tarsus in present-day Turkey, to Carthage on the northern coast of Africa), everyone agrees it lay to the west, across at least part of the Mediterranean.

Nineveh, by contrast, was the capital city of the Assyrian empire. It lay to the east, in present-day Iraq.

Jonah doesn't argue with God at the beginning of the story, and even if he had, that wouldn't be unusual in the Bible.
4. Jonah's ship to Tarshish is caught up in a violent storm of divine origin, and Jonah is ultimately hurled overboard by the frightened sailors. Whom do the sailors blame for Jonah's (apparent) death?

Answer: God

After throwing Jonah into the stormy sea, the sailors cry out to God (1:14), "Do not hold us guilty of killing an innocent person! For You, O Lord, by Your will, have brought this about."

The story of Jonah is, I believe, ultimately about the tension between God's justice and God's mercy (or love). This early statement of belief that God is responsible for what happens here on earth sets the stage for the book's theological message. After all, if God wasn't responsible for any human suffering, how could we even ask if God should be merciful or just with us?
5. Jonah is saved from drowning when God causes a big fish to swallow the prophet. While in the belly of the fish, Jonah composes a prayer to God. Which of the following is NOT mentioned in Jonah's prayer?

Answer: An apology for Jonah's disobedience.

In his prayer, Jonah never actually apologizes for disobeying God. This is strange because an apology is often seen as a crucial component of earning forgiveness (whether from God or from other people). But apparently God is merciful and forgives Jonah anyway--an important point in a story about justice versus mercy.

Jonah does mention that God saved his life (2:6-7--"The waters closed in over me . . . Yet You brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God!"). Jonah also greatly misses God and the Temple (2:5--"I thought I was driven away, out of Your sight; would I ever gaze again upon Your holy Temple?"), and concludes with a promise to serve God in the future (2:10--"But I, with loud thanksgiving, will sacrifice to You; what I have vowed I will perform.").
6. After Jonah is spit out onto dry land by the fish, he obeys God's second summons to Nineveh and arrives in the city with a dire message. "40 days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown," Jonah proclaims (3:4). How do the people of Nineveh react to this grim announcement?

Answer: Everyone, from the king to the humblest person, begins to repent.

The reaction to Jonah is immediate--after his first day proclaiming the destruction of Nineveh (3:5), "the people of Nineveh believed God." The king himself proclaims a city-wide period of mourning, fasting and repentance. Even the animals in the city are expected to obey the fast!
7. It's unusual, in the Hebrew Bible, for an Israelite prophet to receive a message solely meant for a gentile community. But what makes Nineveh an especially strange city for Jonah to be sent to save?

Answer: About 50 years after Jonah's time, the people of Nineveh conquered Israel.

Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire, and in 721 BCE the Assyrians launched a vicious attack on the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Assyrians conquered northern Israel and exiled the Israelites living there. It was during this Assyrian exile that the "10 Lost Tribes of Israel" disappeared.

Since 2 Kings 14:25 states that Jonah lived during the reign of King Jeroboam II (approx. 790-750 BCE), the Jonah story must have taken place a mere 50 years or so before the people of Nineveh violently conquered Jonah's people.

The fact that Jonah is sent to save one of the biggest enemies of the Israelites makes the story that much more dramatic--and troubling.
8. It's not until the fourth chapter of the Book of Jonah that we finally learn why Jonah initially ran away from God. What was Jonah's reason?

Answer: Jonah knew that God would forgive Nineveh for all its terrible sins.

God's decision to forgive the people of Nineveh "displeased Jonah greatly" and makes him "grieved" (4:1). Angrily, Jonah tells God, "This is why I fled beforehand to Tarshish. For I know that You are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, renouncing punishment" (4:2).

There's some irony in this line, since Jonah turns concepts ordinarily used to praise God into biting criticism. Jewish liturgy today frequently mentions God's compassion, kindness, slowness to anger, and reluctance to punish sinners--but for Jonah, these are fundamentally qualities of injustice which enable the wicked to escape unscathed.
9. To teach Jonah a lesson, God "provides" three things in nature. What are they?

Answer: A plant, a worm, and an east wind.

God causes a plant to spring up to give Jonah shade, which makes Jonah "very happy" (4:6)--the first and only time he feels happy in the whole book. But the next day God provides a worm to attack the plant, and a "sultry east wind" to make Jonah miss the plant even more (4:8).

Frogs, locusts and hail are 3 of the 10 Plagues sent to teach Pharaoh a lesson.
The tree, fruit, and snake are from the Garden of Eden story.
Lost donkeys, a well, and a prophet are from the tale of the first meeting between Saul and Samuel in 1 Samuel 9.
10. The first reason God gives for saving the people of Nineveh is that God created them and cares about them. What is the other reason God gives for sparing Nineveh?

Answer: There are a lot of people in Nineveh, and they don't understand the difference between right and wrong.

In the final verse of the Book of Jonah (4:11), God says, "And should not I care about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not yet know their right hand from their left, and many beasts as well?"

The Book of Jonah is often seen as a story of the power of repentance--it is read in synagogues around the world in the closing hours of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement--so it's noteworthy that God doesn't mention repentance at all. Instead, God says the opposite: the people of Nineveh are called ignorant and compared to animals, and thus apparently not responsible for their own actions.
Source: Author jwerth

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor CellarDoor before going online.
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