Coronavirus Pandemic Wednesday 22nd April, 2020

Psalm 114; Jonah 2:1-10; Matthew 12:38-42


Wednesday 22 April  by Rev. Jerry Eve

The story of Jonah may be fictional, but Jonah himself (on whom the story seems to be based) is more than likely to have existed. There’s a reference to him in 2 Kings 14:25, where we learn that he was from a place in the north of Israel near Lake Galilee called Gath Hepher at the time when Jeroboam II was king there and Amaziah king of Judah i.e. in the early part of the 8th century BC.

Both Matthew and Luke (at Luke 11:31) have Jesus invoke the story of Jonah as a way of predicting when his resurrection will take place, so that just as Jonah spends three days inside the fish, it won’t be until the third day that Jesus comes alive again. Matthew 27:64 has the chief priests and pharisees petition Pilate then with the words, “Give orders, then, for his tomb to be guarded until the third day,” and Luke 24:21 has the two followers of Jesus tell him, “this is now the third day since it happened.”

There’s also a parallel to these at the start of Luke when Jesus goes missing as a boy, because it’s, “On the third day [his parents find] him in the Temple.”

As well as Jonah, Jesus in this passage from Matthew also invokes the Queen of Sheba. It’s a shame we don’t have her name, but that’s typical of the Bible – far fewer women are named than men, even those as here with high status. She is thought to have come from modern-day Yemen on a trade mission. There are two poems I like that you may be interested in. They are extra-Biblical. One is called ‘King Solomon and the Bees’ by the 19th century American poet, John Godfrey Saxe, and the other is by Scots poet (from Currie outside Edinburgh) simply called ‘The Queen of Sheba’.

I’ll include links to these. The first, based on a story from the Talmud (which is considered second only in importance within Judaism to our Old Testament), has Solomon solve a riddle set by the Queen of Sheba. And if I tell you that the second (which is based on Kathleen Jamie’s own childhood) begins with the lines,

“Scotland, you have invoked her name

just once too often

in your Presbyterian living rooms,”

hopefully your interest will be piqued:

Let us pray:

A prayer for Yemen

Giver of Life,

Who hears the cries from Yemen;

of mothers choosing between medicine or food,

of parents grieving children lost to starvation,

of those who have given up everything in hunger.

Hear our cries for hope, for change, for peace. 

In your mercy, 

break political deadlocks,

soften hardened hearts,

change closed minds,

open unhearing ears.

Let people come before power.

Let life be holy again.

Let your justice and peace

shape the nation of Yemen

and the lives of all people,



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