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01/10/2012

An ancient journey

I enjoy studying ancient history and geography (as I'm sure you all do!) so when I read of places in the Bible, especially if they no longer exist by that name, I like to discover more of their origin.

Jonah started running from God from the port of Joppa, now known as Jaffa on the Israeli coast (incidentally this is the same place where Dorcas was raised from the dead and Peter had his vision of the great sheet in Acts 9 & 10). Jonah headed to Tarshish, which, interestingly, some historians believe to be the lost city of Atlantis (maybe he would have been underwater whichever way he travelled!) Tarshish was believed to be somewhere near the modern city of Cadiz in southern Spain. Jonah must have been desperate to get away because Joppa to Cadiz is roughly 2,500 miles!

We don't know how far Jonah got towards Tarshish, but his eventual destination was the ancient capital of the Assyrian empire, Nineveh, which if you take its four main suburbs would have taken about three days to walk round (Jonah 3:3). The ruins of ancient Nineveh can now be found across the Tigris river from the modern city of Mosul in Iraq (incidentally, the site of a large American air force base during the Iraq war and where Saddam Hussein's two sons were killed).

The origin of the meaning of the name Nineveh is obscure, but its ancient symbol or ideogram (like a Chinese character) interestingly means 'house or place of fish'.

I know we cannot excuse Jonah for disobeying God, but we shouldn't be too harsh. After all, if you had the choice of the beaches of southern Spain or spending some time in Iraq, which would you choose?

Reading: Jonah 1:3 and Psalm 139:7-12
Question: When faced with a choice between obeying God and being comfortable, which do you tend to choose?
Next prayer meetings: Tomorrow, 12.30pm at THC, and Wednesday 7.30pm at THC

Adrian Pursglove

Posted by Adrian Pursglove
08:44


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