The book of Jonah in the Bible tells the story of a prophet who was commanded by the Hebrew god Yahweh to go to the city of Nineveh and preach so that the people there might be saved. Jonah, however, did not feel they deserved salvation and boarded a ship going in the other direction. When a huge storm came up, he admitted it was caused by his disobedience to Yahweh. The crew threw Jonah into the sea, where a great fish swallowed him. The fish spat him onto land three days later, and Jonah went to Nineveh.

prophet one who claims to have received divine messages or insights

After hearing Jonah preach, the king of Nineveh ordered his subjects to repent, causing Yahweh to spare them. Because Jonah was angry that Yahweh had saved so many wicked people, he left the city, hoping it would be destroyed. Yahweh decided to teach Jonah a lesson. First he caused a plant to grow to shade Jonah from the sun during the day; later he sent a worm to eat it. When Jonah expressed regret at losing the plant, Yahweh scolded him for taking pity on a plant that he did not make grow, while feeling no sorrow for thousands of people in Nineveh. Jonah is usually portrayed in art with the great fish or resting in the shade of the plant.

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