This is Moby Dick Chapter 9: The Sermon (summary).
Vocabulary Words found in this chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 9: The Sermon (Vocabulary Words)
Note: You can watch and download a dramatization of Jonah’s life story here!
Previous Chapter: Chapter 8: The Pulpit (summary)
Father Mapple started his sermon by offering a devout prayer. Then, all sang the hymn. He opened up the story of Jonah. Before he started narrating it, he mentioned that if we were to obey God, we have to disobey ourselves. Which, admittedly, is a hard thing to do, yet right.
God assigned Jonah to go to Nineveh. But because he feared the people who live there so much, he went aboard a ship to Tarshish, a place 2,000 miles away from Nineveh. He went to the port city named Joppa, and there he found a ship. We can find Tarshish in Spain.
Before getting on the ship, he needed to pay a fare to the captain. The captain charged him thrice the usual sum, for he thought about Jonah: ‘This man cannot be innocent.’ Jonah asked where he could sleep for a while. In response, the captain showed him a little room below the deck and said he could sleep there.
At first, he couldn’t sleep because his conscience kept disturbing him. But at last, he fell asleep. Suddenly, the weather changed. Strong winds churned up the sea into a nightmarish rage, with waves that might tear down even modern-day vessels.
The mariners began to cry out to their various gods. And, as for the ship, it was about to become wrecked. The captain found Jonah on his bed still asleep. He woke him up and urged him to pray to his God like what the others were doing.
Convinced that there was something supernatural about this storm, the sea men cast lots to see which one among them might be the cause of their trouble. Soon the truth was plain. Jehovah God was directing the storm, as well as the lots, toward one man—Jonah!
They asked him for his name, where he came from, and of why this death came upon them. Jonah told the sailors everything. He was a servant of the Almighty God, Jehovah. This was the God that he was running from and the one he had offended, putting them all in terrible danger.
They asked him what to do with him in order to save the ship. He said to them to lift him up and to throw him into the sea, and at that the sea will then calm down for them.
The sailors refused to comply and sought for other means to save the ship, but the water became more violent and only grew worse. Calling out to Jonah’s God, Jehovah, to show them mercy and to save them, they lifted the man up and threw him over the side, into the sea. The sea immediately calms down for them.
As for Jonah, he struggled, floundered a bit, and sank, sensing that all hope was gone.
But wait! There was something moving nearby—an immense, dark shape, a living thing. Looming close, it darted at him. A great maw opened over him, engulfed him, and swallowed him down! This must be the end.
Yet, Jonah sensed something astounding. He was still alive! The breath of life was still in him, though he was in what should rightly be his grave. There in the deepest darkness, Jonah composed his thoughts and prayed to Jehovah.
After three days and three nights, the fish brought Jonah to the shore and vomited him out to the dry land. Then the word of Jehovah God came to Jonah a second time—to go to Nineveh to proclaim to her the message that God tells him.
Father Mapple concluded the story. Then he blessed the congregation, kneeled, and then covered his face with his hand until everyone had departed, leaving him alone in the place.
End of Moby Dick Chapter 9: The Sermon (summary).