3rd Sunday after Epiphany
Lectionary and study helps are here.
I found some history and art that relates to the prophet Jonah, about whom we read in today’s lection.
When Jonah visited Nineveh, he would have preferred that his God destroy the city, as it was a dangerous rival of Israel. The Assyrians were well known for their violence and cruelty. We can see the well-developed culture of the city in the sophisticated limestone reliefs pictured below, found in Nineveh, dating to Jonah’s time period. (late 7th C. BCE)
The Sack of the City of Hamanu. Notice the detail: soldiers with pickaxes and crowbars, falling timbers and bricks in the air. Other soldiers are marching away from the burning city down a wooded hill carrying booty. At the bottom soldiers are in camp, relaxing with food and drink while one stands guard.
Here’s another one called Dying Lioness.
In ceremonial royal lion-hunting for the glorification of the king, the lion was released from a cage within a hollow square formed by troops with shields so that the king could kill her. Notice the raw emotion depicted so well even in this stone rendition. Her large front paws drag her body, punctured with arrows.
Nineveh had an elaborate system of 18 canals that brought water from nearby hills, just one of the architectural feats of King Ashurbanipal. The king also constructed a palace with a library where his scribes copied ancient texts–over 20,000 pieces of tablets and fragments, including math, botany, chemistry. Evidently, (according to Encycopedia Britannica) modern scholars are not close to completing their studies of this find.
Look at this bronze portrait sculpture that dates way before Jonah, c. 2300-2200 BCE Head of an Akkadian Ruler. Notice the plaited hair and detailed beard. Nineveh, which is now located within Mosul, Iraq was the largest and oldest Assyrian city.
References: Encyclopedia Britannica on line, Chabad.org, Bible History on line, History of Art by H.W. Janson