Did the writers of Jonah employ dramatic irony by making Jonah aware that by successfully convincing the people of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to repent, he would set in place events that would see the conquering and enslavement of his own people.

2 Kings 15:29

In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, . . . Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.

2 Kings 17:5

Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.

This provides a very good motivation, Jonah 4:1,

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

It has been my assumption that the authors of Jonah knew this, and assume readers knew this. However, if this was written before the destruction caused by Assyria, then my understanding is flawed. Is there any way that the text of Jonah was written or modified after the destruction of Israel?

  • @Stevecanhelp I don't necessarily care who, just concentrate on when; viz whether it is possible for them to have known of the destruction of Israel. I suppose that an equivalent question is, is the last probable date of writing or update after the fall of Israel? I've updated my question a little; thanks.
    – Neil
    Jan 16 at 1:34
  • It's a good question. Hopefully you'll get a good range of answers to it.
    – Steve can help
    Jan 18 at 7:10

2 Answers 2


Jonah lived in the heyday of the Northern Kingdom, when Jeroboam II was king.

2 Kings 14:23-27 read

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years.

24 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit.

25 He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.

26 The Lord had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel, whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them.

27 And since the Lord had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash.

Verse 25 mentioned Jonah son of Amittai, generally is taken as the same prophet of the Book of Jonah. Though Jeroboam II was wicked in the eyes of the Lord (vv24), the Lord gave mercy to the people of Israel (vv26), and delivered their suffering by the hand of Jeroboam II (vv27).

Did Jonah know Assyria would conquer Israel? Probably not. Otherwise, Jonah should prophesized the repentant, instead of restoration (vv25)

So why would Jonah reacted negatively against the message of the Lord? History of Assyria indicate that they were fearsome warriors, cruel and ruthless. In Johah perception, the Assyrian were the most wicked people than his Israel fellows.

  • I agree, Jonah had good reason to avoid the Assyrians, whether or not he knew of their fate. But is it possible that the authors of Jonah knew that fate as a matter of history?
    – Neil
    Jan 16 at 1:59
  • @Neil - there is a reason why we don't know most of the authors of the scripture, as the scripture is a sacred book of the Lord, instead of man. Revelation 22:18 is a warning; "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll". For sure I believe the author, in the Spirit of the Lord, could only honestly have written what was needed, no matter he knew it or not. Jan 16 at 2:50
  • I suppose my question could be phased as, could Jonah (through prophecy) or the author (through hindsight) know that the Assyrians would/have destroyed Israel. In all the commentary I've read, it seems to make Jonah kind of shallow, but I've never heard the fact that the Assyrians destroyed the Israelites in the future as a possible motivator to not wanting Nineveh to be spared.
    – Neil
    Jan 16 at 4:48
  • @Neil - I know. But the eagerness to prove your assumption may hinder your view from God's perspective. Point is, If Jonah knew Samaria was going to be taken by Assyria, he ran away just to save himself, not like a prophet did. Jonah prayed in 4:2 that "The Lord is a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Perhaps this was the key message that Jonah/author wanted to bring to their Israel fellows, For the next prophet Amos was prophesying their destruction. If the Israelite repented, they would also be saved. Jan 16 at 14:38

O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.
— Isaiah 10:5

We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread. Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.
— Lamentations 5:6–7

Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.
— Ezekiel 23:9

God may have used the Assyrians to punish his people on more than one occasion.

Second Assyrian Empire …
The Assyrian forces became a standing army, which, by successive improvements and careful discipline, was moulded into an irresistible fighting machine, and Assyrian policy was directed towards the definite object of reducing the whole civilized world into a single empire and thereby throwing its trade and wealth into Assyrian hands.
Encyclopædia Britannica — Babylonia and Assyria

Legend says that the German city of Trier was founded by Assyrians:

Trebeta was the legendary founder of Trier according to the Gesta Treverorum.

According to a legend recorded in the 12th century, Deeds of the Treveri, the city was founded by an mythological-unrecorded prince of Assyria named Trebeta, placing the city's founding legend independent of and centuries before ancient Rome's.

Trebeta's parents were said to have been Ninus, a legendary "King of Assyria" invented by the ancient Greeks (first mentioned by Ctesias), and an unknown mother who was Ninus's wife before Semiramis. Semiramis took control of the kingdom upon his father's death and Trebeta was forced into exile, wandering through Europe before settling at Trier.
Trebeta - Wikipedia

It's entirely possible that the German people are the descendants of the Assyrians.

See also:

(I should also point out that the above claims are generally not accepted by mainstream historians. But on the other hand, they generally tend to reject any history that relates directly to the Bible.)

  • This is very interesting. Are you saying that there really wasn't a single event, but more of a long-standing war that eventually led to captivity? And so the answer is probably partly?
    – Neil
    Jan 16 at 2:07

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