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51Re: Nineweh

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  • thomas_joseph@hotmail.com
    Feb 4, 2001
      Bo`utho d-Neenwoye--Rogation of the Ninevites--is a fast of three
      days occurring three weeks before the Great Lent. It is observed in
      the Syriac Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and the
      Assyrian Church of the East (In the Armenian Church, it immediately
      precedes the Lenten fast.) Gregorius Bar `Ebroyo (1224-1284), the
      great Maphryono of the East, writes in his ktobo d-eTiqun (Book of
      Ethics): "The people in the East observe the fast of Nineveh from
      Monday in the third week before the great fast till the morning of
      Thursday; the people in the West till the morning of Saturday." (East
      in this context refers to the Syriac Orthodox in the East under the
      Maphryono, and the West to those directly under the Patriarch of
      Antioch.) Today, it is observed for only three days throughout the
      Syriac Orthodox Church.

      The narrative in the Book of Jonah, one of the twelve minor prophets
      in the Old Testament, provides the theme for the fast. The book
      describes Yahweh's call to Jonah to go to the Gentile city of Nineveh
      (today near Mosul, Iraq) to preach repentance, his disobedience, his
      attempt to escape to Tarshish by sea, his punishment by being thrown
      overboard and swallowed by a great fish, his deliverance after three
      days and nights and the final success of his mission. On hearing
      God's message of impending doom, the Ninevites including their king
      repented and from the greatest to the least, they went without food
      wearing sackcloth to show their sorrow. Repentance that saves mankind
      from God's wrath is, thus, the theme of the three day fast.

      In the Gospels, Christ refers more than once to the 'sign of Jonah'
      (Mt 12:39, 16:4, Lk 11:29), which is interpreted in Mt. 12:40 as a
      prophecy of his resurrection--"For as Jonah was in the belly of the
      great fish for three days and three nights, so I, the Son of Man,
      will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three
      nights." "The people of Nineveh will rise up against this generation
      on judgment day and condemn it, because they repented at the
      preaching of Jonah. And now someone greater than Jonah is here--and
      you refuse to repent" (Mt 12:41). The fast of Nineveh assumes great
      significance in this context.

      The Syriac Orthodox liturgy commemorates the repentance of the
      Ninevites in many hymns. The following is from a hymn in the morning
      prayer for Monday in the ShHimo (Daily prayer book):

      Lord, hear and answer my prayer. Halleluiah.

      Accept our incense like that offered by Aaron
      and our service like the pleas of those of Ninevah.
      Respond to the pleas of Thy servants
      as with Jonah in the sea.


      Glory to Thy merciful grace, O Jesus, God.
      How abundant are the gifts from Thee to all the world!
      Ninevites who called on Thee were
      delivered from the wrath by their pleas.

      Following are the readings for the fast (from the Scripture Readings
      for Sundays & Feast Days According to the Tradition of the Syrian
      Orthodox Church of Antioch, New York, March 2000):

      Genesis 18:20-33, Joshua 8:18-29; Zephaniah 2:9-15, 3:1-13
      1 Peter 3:7-15; Hebrews 12:3-11; Matthew 12:31-41

      Genesis 19:1-14; Nahum 3:5-19; Isaiah 13:1-22
      1 Peter 4:7-19; Romans 13:1-10; Luke 4:24-32; Luke 11:5-23; Matthew

      Genesis 19:14-30; Judges 10:1-16; Jonah 1:1-4:11
      Acts 18:23-28; 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Luke 12:54-59; Luke 13:1-8; Luke
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