The Holy Prophet Jonah lived in the eighth century before the birth of Christ and was a successor of the Prophet Elisha. The Book of the Prophet Jonah contains prophecies about the judgments on the Israelite nation, the sufferings of the Savior, the downfall of Jerusalem, and the end of the world. Besides the prophecies, the Book of Jonah relates how he was sent to the Ninevites to preach repentance (Jon. 3: 3-10).
Our Lord Jesus Christ, addressing the Scribes and the Pharisees who demanded a sign from Him, said that no sign would be given except for the sign of the Prophet Jonah, “As Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so also shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights (Mt. 12: 40). From these words the Lord shows clearly the symbolic meaning of the Book of the Prophet Jonah in relation to Christ’s death on the Cross, descent into Hell, and the Resurrection.
Reproaching the lack of penitence and recalcitrance of the Jews, the Lord said, “The Ninevites shall rise in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and one greater than Jonah is here” (Mt. 12: 41).