A Whale of a Tale

by Sylvia Melvin
(Milton, Florida)

Whale of a Tale
By Sylvia Melvin

SETTING: 780 B.C. in a small Jewish home
AT RISE: Levi hears a knock at the door and opens it to find his friend Jonah standing outside.
LEVI
(Levi throws his arms up in the air in surprise and then embraces Jonah.) Shalom, Jonah, my dear friend.
JONAH
Shalom, Levi. It’s so good to see you.
LEVI
Come in; come in. I want to hear all about your trip. There was a rumor going around the synagogue that you were on vacation. Where did you go? Corinth, Athens, Ephesus? I know an innkeeper in Corinth who could have given you a good deal, had I known before you left. (Levi jabs Jonah in the ribs and chuckles.) We Jews help each other out, eh?

JONAH
(JONAH shakes his head.) No vacation, Levi. Business.

LEVI
What kind of business?
JONAH
God’s business.
LEVI
(Looking perplexed.) God’s business, Jonah? You heard from God? Like our forefathers Noah, Abraham, and Moses? How did he speak to you? Another burning bush? A clap of thunder? Or maybe one of your sheep spoke the words of Jehovah? (LEVI is smiling now.)
JONAH
I see you don’t believe me Levi, but I jest not. Day and night the words of the Lord swirled about in my head. I tried to ignore them, but they were even in my dreams. The word GO would not disappear.
LEVI
(Looking more inquisitive.) Go where Jonah?


-2-

JONAH
To Nineveh.
LEVI
(LEVI gasps and motions for JONAH to sit at a table as he collapses into a chair.) Nineveh! Why Nineveh? The Assyrians are our enemies, Jonah. They hate the Jewish people and I don’t mind saying I don’t much care for them.

JONAH
My sentiments too. That's why I changed the trip itinerary a little.

LEVI

I don’t follow you, my friend. How did you change it?

JONAH
I went in another direction; bought passage on a ship to Tarshish, Spain.

LEVI
Spain! Jonah, that’s one-hundred and eighty degrees opposite Nineveh. Were you taking the scenic route? (LEVI scratches his head in bewilderment.) If God told you to go one place, why did you go another? And for heaven’s sake why did He want you to go at all?

JONAH
To tell the people to repent. He’s fed up with their wicked ways.

LEVI
But you don’t care about them; you said so yourself. Why you?

JONAH
Beats me; that’s why I turned and ran. I felt they deserved the wrath of God. Let someone else save them.
LEVI
So, you didn’t go?
JONAH
Oh, I went alright. When the Lord calls you to do something, I found out the hard way you’d better obey.
LEVI
But you were on a ship headed for Spain, so how did you get there?

JONAH
By whale.



-3-


LEVI

(LEVI places his hand on JONAH’s forehead.) Friend, are you feeling alright? Has the sun gotten to your head, or did you fall on your way over here?

JONAH

Levi, I know this is going to sound very strange to you, but I swear I’m telling the truth.
While I was on the ship bound for Spain, a terrible storm came out of nowhere. I was below sleeping until the sailors cast lots to see who was responsible for this unfortunate change in weather. My name came up. I knew right then and there that I was the culprit. The spirit of the Lord told me I was disobeying His command to go to Nineveh. Those sailors can be mean, so I confessed and figured it’d be better to drown then to let them settle the matter. I begged to be thrown overboard. Not one of them disagreed, so over I went.

LEVI
But Jonah, you don’t know how to swim. You were always afraid of the water.


JONAH

Still am, but I wasn’t hardly wet before a whale came along and swallowed me up. Spent three days in his belly.
LEVI
(Stunned, LEVI looks at JONAH and shakes his head.) It’s that cheap wine you’re drinking again, isn’t it, Jonah? Tell me you’ve been stomping the grapes.

JONAH
(JONAH lets out a deep sigh) Levi, I would never lie to you; you’re my best friend. That’s why I came to see you. I have to tell my story. It was dark inside that whale, but somehow, I knew God had not deserted me as I had Him. I prayed for forgiveness, and I
made a promise to go to Nineveh. Apparently, the whale knew the way because on the third day he’d had enough of me bouncing around in his belly and he spit me out right on the shores of my mission field.
LEVI
So, what did you do then?

JONAH
Took off telling everyone I saw that if they didn’t change their ways, the day of wrath was coming. From the things I saw, I didn’t have much hope they’d take me seriously, so



-4-


I went out of the city and waited for doom to fall on them. I waited and waited but nothing happened. Doubt began to haunt me, and I wondered if I’d failed my mission until I heard sounds of weeping and folks wearing sackcloth repenting to God. This made me angry. I couldn’t believe He would show them compassion. Can you believe it? The Assyrians.


LEVI

Got to agree with you, friend, but you know our God works in mysterious ways.


JONAH

Believe me, I let my feelings be known the next day.

LEVI

(LEVI looks at JONAH with surprise.) You argued with GOD?

JONAH

Sort of...it went like this. He grew this vine to cover me from the scorching heat while I waited for the city to fall. But the next morning a worm ate the stem and there went my relief. I ranted and raved but God saw through my anger. He told me it wasn't the plant I was concerned about, but the fact that He had saved thousands of people through me. I couldn't deny it, Levi. They may be our enemies, but in the end, they are God's people too.


LEVI

(LEVI stands and looks at Jonah.) C'mon my friend. We're going to visit the Rabbi; your story is going to be a hard sell, but maybe someday it will be written in the Scriptures.

BLACKOUT





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