“And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?" (4:11). God’s concern for the Ninevites shocked and disturbed Jonah, as an Israelite prophet. Jonah had no compassion for these foreigners living hundreds of miles away in the Assyrian Empire that threatened Jonah’s homeland. Yet God sent Jonah to preach to them, and they repented.
Jonah was happy that God rescued him from the fish, but he struggled to extend that mercy to others. “For I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful … and relenting from disaster” (4:2).