Ninevites’ repentance

The short Bible book of Jonah is read entirely on Great Saturday at Vespers. Since it is very relevant these days, and its images are often used in the Church, let us briefly recall its content.
Jonah lived after the prophets Elijah and Elisha. One day the Lord commanded him to go to the city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Kingdom, and tell the Ninevites that the Lord would destroy them if they did not repent. But Jonah would not go to preach to the enemies of Israel, and he did not listen to the voice of God. He took a ship that was going to another country. But suddenly a great storm arose on the sea. The ship was about to sink. All were afraid. The shipwrights decided to cast lots to find out who had caused such a disaster. The lot fell on Jonah. Jonah confessed his sin and said: “Yes, I have sinned against the Lord! Throw me into the sea, and the storm will stop.” When he was thrown into the sea, the storm subsided. By the will of God, the prophet was swallowed by a huge fish (“whale”). Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, praying to God for mercy. Here the Lord revealed his special glory, having kept him safe.
Three days later, the whale washed the prophet up alive on the beach. After this, Jonah went to Nineveh to fulfill the will of God. He went around the city and preached to everyone, saying: “Another forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed!» And people believed his words. The king took off his Royal vestments and sat down on the ashes. The Ninevites imposed a fast on themselves, began to pray and offer penance for their sins. Even the cattle didn’t eat anything those days. And the Lord saw their works, and He had mercy on them.
But Jonah protested at this mercy of God, and even began to ask for his death from God. He probably thought that now he would be considered a false prophet.
But the Lord again brought Jonah to reason. In front of the tent that Jonah had set up for himself near Nineveh, a large plant grew up one night and protected him from the heat of the sun. But the next day the worm eroded this plant, and it withered. Jonah was very sad and sorry for the dead plant.
Then the Lord said to him: “you are sorry for the plant that you did not work on and that you did not grow. So should I not pity Nineveh, the great city, where there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know the difference between the right hand and the left, and a lot of cattle?»
The three-day stay of Jonah in the belly of the whale and his miraculous salvation was a prototype of the three-day death and resurrection of Christ the Saviour.