Home > Something Funny > Something Funny: Those Poor Cows!

Something Funny: Those Poor Cows!

I’m in Florida. I’ve got plenty of time to blog here, but I don’t really want to think. So I’m gonna blog, but nothing that requires too much thinking. What I’m saying is, I care about you readers, just not very much. I’m starting a brief Floridian blog series entitled, “Something Funny, Something Beautiful.” Humor is something I do well and tend to find humor even in some of the most complex ironic associations. I think I’m more inclined to find humor than a lot of people even in areas where no humor was meant or intended. Here’s something intended to be humorous that has made me laugh out loud before.

To preface the forthcoming Scripture, Jonah was already pissed at God before this scene because God had compassion and forgiveness for the people of Ninevah when they repented. Jonah was so angry at YHWH’s keeping His hand from destroying the Ninevites that Jonah thought it would be better to die than to live. The following passage about the vine is God’s crystalline metaphor to reveal Jonah’s heart to himself.

Then the Lord God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”

“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

But the Lord said, ” You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend to it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Ninevah has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well.”

Frick you guys, this thing is so funny on so many levels and I’m not going to get to all of them. #1: Jonah’s previous reaction to God’s mercy on the Ninevites (wanting to die) seemed like it may have been related to his sense of justice and somewhat sensible. But Jonah uses the exact same words to describe how he feels about the lack of shade as he does about God’s mercy, “it would be better for me to die than to live.” Really Jonah? Really? God does a miracle to give you shade and then you lost it, and now you want to die because you’re really hot? Do you really think it’s better to die than to be too warm? Oh, you do? And you think you have a right to be angry about God taking away the shade he gave you? It’s such a childish reaction. The level of drama his words convey about the horror of his plight of being overheated is absurdly funny.

Oh, I have an idea Jonah, why don’t you walk back into the city! The Scriptures just prior said that Jonah went to sit down east of the city after God asked him if Jonah had a right to be angry about the mercy of YHWH. So Jonah, pissed off about Ninevah’s repentance and lack of imminent destruction, goes to sit down somewhere away from the people that are an object of his anger. But God never told him to go there. There’s no reason Jonah has to be there, and it seems the deeply repentant Ninevites would gratefully welcome their prophet into their city. I’m sure there’s plenty of shade there too. But the stubborn little man-child Jonah sits there angry that God didn’t wipe out Ninevah and just as angry that he’s too hot. All he has to do is walk back into the town. It’s just silly how angry he is.

God then verbally exemplifies Jonah’s absurdity with a zinger.* God noticed that Jonah is very deeply concerned about a single vine that is only around for a day, and seemingly wonders why Jonah doesn’t care about Ninevah. After all, Ninevah has a lot of people in it that were about as aware of the potential brevity of their existence as the vine was. The kicker is the “and many cattle as well.” At first read, it feels a little like an arbitrary and unnecessary statement about the simple fact that there are cattle in Ninevah. What God is doing is humorously illuminating Jonah’s selfish heart. If Jonah cares about one shade vine so much that he wants to die, then imagine how much more dramatic his response would be if multiple cattle were in danger! The horror of those poor cows dying! *zing

*I’m pretty sure this is the first occasion in my 24 year tenure on this earth that I have used the word “zinger.”

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  1. March 11, 2010 at 11:41 am

    HAHA!! I love it man!

    • March 11, 2010 at 2:15 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it. The whole book has some humor, but the last chapter is ridiculous.

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