Sunday, April 08, 2012

Pictures of Jonah

One thing you might notice about our pictures from now on - we've changed format! We've gone from portrait to landscape which is something that some of you have been asking us to do for a while now (as the Powerpoint format is landscape). Why have we changed? Well, we started with the portrait format because we always intended that our pictures would be used in a children's Bible, (which hasn't materialized as yet). We've now changed to landscape as we have an upcoming book project comprising of 15 books that are all going to be in a landscape format. There's also going to be some film work done using the illustrations and the landscape format is more suitable for this too.

Our first completed picture set to appear in landscape format is Jonah which has 10 pictures.
The first picture shows a disgruntled Jonah leaving town to catch a boat departing from Joppa for Tarshish. II Kings14:25 tells us that Jonah's home town was Gath-hepher, (3-5 miles north of Nazareth). It's well known that Tarshish is in the opposite direction from Nineveh, but the journey from Gath-pher (if that's where Jonah set off from) to Joppa was in the opposite direction too! I checked out some photos of Gath-hepher on the Bible places website - a great place to look for photographic reference!

Picture 2 (above) shows Jonah boarding the ship. Further up the coastline you can see the beach where Tel Aviv is today! Picture 3 shows the terrified sailors casting lots - Jonah picks the short straw! There's no information given in scripture that tells us exactly how lots were cast. We know that the Romans used dice, and in earlier times a jar, containing wooden discs, was filled with water. The wooden discs would float, but only one could be pulled out through the narrow neck of the jar at a time. One of the discs would be marked. I chose the long/short straw method as this was easier to see.

Picture 4 shows Jonah being thrown into the sea. Picture 5 (right) is an underwater scene showing the great fish approaching Jonah. I know that traditionally the great fish is shown to be a whale, (and I've stuck with this), but there has been some discussion about whether a man could live in a whale for three days. The Bible says that "the Lord provided a great fish" so I would argue that this prepared fish, whatever it was, was ideally suited for the purpose it was designed for. It may not have been a whale - then again it might have been. could it have been a One-off? a fish that only existed for the purpose of carrying Jonah to land? I'm thinking about the Jewish tradition regarding the Tachash: According to Rashi's commentary the Tachash is a "kosher, multi-colored, one horned desert animal which came into existence to be used to build the Tabernacle and ceased to exist afterward".
Maybe someone would like to comment on this?

Picture 6 shows Jonah inside the fish praying. I couldn't find reference of what the insides of a large fish looked like so I'm afraid I've had to use some artist's license-!! Maybe one of you fishermen out there could put me right? Picture 7 shows Jonah washed up on the beach. Picture 8 (above left) shows Jonah preaching to the Ninevites. Fortunately we have some excellent resources that tell us exactly what the fashions were like in Nineveh. These highly detailed references are in the form of clay tablets which have been perfectly preserved from the time of Nineveh. Most of these are in the British Museum but thankfully we have a few in Manchester Museum too, and I was able to make some sketches from these a few weeks ago.
Jonah dressed in his now shabby clothing stands in contrast to the grandiosity of the Ninevites. We also know from the clay tablets that the Assyrians were a blood thirsty bunch so preaching to them wasn't a job for the faint-hearted!

Picture 9 (right) shows Jonah sat on a hillside overlooking Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria for a time and so a very important city. Jonah's sat on the Eastern side overlooking the Shamash Gate which has recently been reconstructed. There were 15 gates in the wall that surrounded Nineveh and each gate was named after an Asssyrian god. We can't see the River Tigris in this picture as this lies on the western side of the city. Again, thanks to those ancient tablets, we know how the great city of Nineveh looked with its lions of bronze, massive sculptures, glazed brick paneling and relief carvings of winged bulls etc - Nineveh really was a lavishly adorned city. The British museum has many of the bas-reliefs that were taken from the city walls.
Jonah is sheltering from the sun in the shadow of a large plant or gourd. Many Bible dictionaries suggest that this may have been the Ricinus Communis, or the castor-oil plant so this is the plant I've illustrated.

Picture 10 shows the plant now withered and Jonah once again angry at God. The book of Jonah is traditionally read out in synagogues around the world at Yom Kippur reminding people of God's Grace and Mercy.
I'll add a link to the Jonah picture set as soon as its uploaded to our website.

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At 5:00 pm, Blogger Deboraw said...

These are really excellent, Graham. I plan on hitting some of these Bible lessons this year, but I'm just finishing with the Exodus at present. You don't have anything on that and the wanderings, do you? I'm looking forward to when we get into the Judges. What ? 'fun' lessons for children (and teachers).

At 5:31 pm, Blogger Bible artist said...

Hi Deboraw
We've got the 18 pictures on the Passover that I mentioned on the previous post. That finishes at the crossing of the Red Sea. Then we have seven pictures covering Gods provision for the Israelites in the wilderness, this covers the supplying of the Manna, the Quail and the water from the rock. We also have the giving of the Ten Commandments in 8 pictures and of course the Tabernacle and all the furniture in 9 pictures. We then have a batch of pictures that are part of the NTM pictures which include 3 pictures covering the 12 spys and some individual pictures that show the snake on the pole, the death of Moses and the entering into the promised land including the fall of Jericho.

These don't cover all of the stories found in the Exodus and the wanderings but it's a start.

At 9:19 pm, Blogger Deboraw said...

How do your pictures come? As in, are they downloaded, do I order them? Prices, etc. I've been wandering in this wilderness of attempting to work up my own 'stuff' long enough, I believe...Levi is still hoping I'll get my act together, but there is only so much time in a day. Smile You kinda know that though, don't you? LOL

At 10:36 pm, Blogger Bible artist said...

Hi Deboraw
Yes, I know exactly what you mean-!!
You can download our picture sets from :

At 1:56 pm, Blogger Deboraw said...

Thank you! I'll be checking it out!

At 7:12 am, Blogger Patrick said...

The narrative doesn't specify what the dag gadol "big fish" was. In early Christian art, it was common to show the 'fish' as a serpentine sea monster because the term used in the Septuagint and the New Testament (cf. Matthew 12:40) for the creature is κῆτος ketos, the same word used for the sea monsters slain by Perseus and Heracles in Greek mythology.

The identification of the fish as 'whale' stems from the medieval usage of the word κῆτος and its Latinized form cetus (cf. 'cetology' = the study of whales).

At 10:19 pm, Blogger Deboraw said...

Graham, Levi has ordered and we have down loaded our first two sets of your work. Very good, and I'm excited! Hopefully class will move along somewhat faster now. LOL

At 8:42 pm, Blogger Paul Green said...

Interesting research Patrick.

At 11:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I just found your blog! seems full of great resources and links! thanks for posting. I am an illustrator who loves the Lord and I am working on illustrations for a bible story app for kids. I wondered if you have ever seen the book "The History of Redemption" - its one of my favorite books and happens to have beautiful, meaningful illustrations both conceptual and representational. I will be back here for more help to accurately create bible environments!

At 2:36 pm, Anonymous Kel said...

Hi! I love your Jonah pictures. I can't find them to purchase on the foundation matters store, they only have a cartoon one available. Is there any other way I can get a download?

At 10:43 am, Blogger Bible artist said...

Hi Kel
Email Jem Hudson at the Foundation matters website - he should be able to help. Thanks for your interest.

At 5:52 pm, Anonymous J levine said...

Great artwork Keep them up. :)

At 6:11 pm, Blogger Bible artist said...

Thanks J.

At 1:54 am, Anonymous Nahum said...

Beautiful work as usual.You pose an interesting question about the identification of the big fish. It is interesting to note that the the Hebrew verb used for presenting the big fish is "vymn" pronounced "vayaman" which means "and he prepared" the the big fish (for a specific purpose).This same Hebrew verb is used three additional times throughout the text for the preparation of three other pre-existing elements found in nature to be usedfor specific purposes: the gourd, the worm and the east wind. Curiously in neither of these cases was the Hebrew verb "vayivrah"- "and he created" used. This would seem to imply that God used pre-existing natural beings or elements found in nature and directed them to perform certain tasks, including the big fish. Nevertheless it is possible that this big fish even though it had already existed, was extremely rare,and it is certainly possible that it is now currently extinct.

At 11:40 pm, Blogger Bible artist said...

Many thanks for that Nahum! I always enjoy reading your comments as they always reveal something fascinating in the Hebrew text. I was interested to read that the book of Jonah is always read on Yom Kippur.

At 7:12 pm, Blogger Deboraw said...

Nahum's comment is interesting. I had read it before, but it caught my attention more ? this time. Also, Graham, you mentioned having a batch of pictures that cover the 12 spies and the snake on the pole etc. I found the ones of the 2 spies, but can't find the 12, or the snake. Would like to find them if at all possible.

At 1:40 am, Blogger Deboraw said...

So, if I can't find the pictures for sale should I e mail Jem as well?

At 9:43 am, Blogger Bible artist said...

Yes, it's always a good idea, if you can't find the pictures you need, to send Jem a quick email.

At 9:38 pm, Blogger Deboraw said...

Thank you. ;^) That's supposed to be a smile, but???????

At 10:39 pm, Blogger Michael Washer said...

Concerning the "big fish" of Yonah. Where did the comment of "tachash" come from concerning this fish? In hebrew it simply says "dag gadol" "big fish" . By the way, there are as many views of what the tachash was as there are Rabbis. But all agree it was an "unkosher" animal;and only one saw it as a sea creature: a "dugong"; but his view was not accepted.

I like the underwater view of Yonah. I am working on an illustation of Yonah — in it, he is being vomited out; flying through the air with a smile on his face and seaweed stuck in his hair.

At 12:07 am, Blogger Bible artist said...

Thanks for your comment michael and welcome to the blog!

At 6:26 am, Anonymous Children's Ministry in Mississauga said...

All I want is to obey God but sometimes I can't stand on it. (I'm sorry Lord!) Jonah's story reminds me a lot for being an obedient. Thanks for posting this.

At 8:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You works of art are incredibly inspiring! My name is Casey Kreher and a few days ago I started writing pieces of 20 unusualBible stories involving animals. In many children's bible story book there are only a few, Creation, Noah's Ark, Jonah and the whale,and Daniel in the lion's den. I am looking for an illustrator.I will e-mail you. May god kep insiring you,


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