Much of the time when we’re teaching kids about Jonah, we concentrate on Jonah himself and his adventure in the fish. We know he didn’t want to go to Nineveh because the people were evil and he was sure if God sent him there, that they would repent.
Everyone knew about Nineveh – but why? The people were wicked, the Bible tells us that. (Jonah 1;2). But there are some other interesting facts about the city. The Bible tells us some of them. History tells us the other.
But we don’t usually give our kids facts about Nineveh and describe what this city was truly like.
1. The city was located in a prosperous plain, east of the Tigris River.
2. The city was the center of the worship of Ishker – goddess of fertility.
3. The city is estimated to have had 120,000 people.
4. The city was founded by Nimrod, a hunter, and was there at the building of the Tower of Babel. (Genesis 10:11)
5. The people were considered to be arrogant and nasty … and were idol worshippers. When they won a battle with another kingdom, they were cruel to the people they captured.
6. The city was modern for it’s day.
These next four facts are easily verifiable from historical resources and rather fascinating.
7. The first library was in Nineveh.
8. The first postal system was in Nineveh – with messages being written on clay tablets – think what that would do to your back as you delivered mail?
9. A primitive plumbing system was established.
10 The lock and key was invented in Nineveh.
And this … how often do we tell kids the animals were also to be covered in the sackcloth of repentance?
Jonah was correct. The people did repent. But what’s interesting is that the animals also wore sackcloth! The king said (Jonah 3:8 — but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.
Ask you kids to imagine what it would be like to see a cow, or sheep walking around in clothes of repentance. (That would be kind of unusual, wouldn’t it?)
Next time you teach Jonah, do some research not only on the fish, but also on the city.