1 And the word of Hashem came unto Yonah the second time saying:
א וַיְהִי דְבַר יְהוָה אֶל יוֹנָה שֵׁנִית לֵאמֹר.
2 ‘Arise go unto Ninveh that great city and make unto it the proclamation that I bid thee.’
ב קוּם לֵךְ אֶל נִינְוֵה הָעִיר הַגְּדוֹלָה וּקְרָא אֵלֶיהָ אֶת הַקְּרִיאָה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי דֹּבֵר אֵלֶיךָ.
5 And the people of Ninveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
ה וַיַּאֲמִינוּ אַנְשֵׁי נִינְוֵה בֵּאלֹהִים וַיִּקְרְאוּ צוֹם וַיִּלְבְּשׁוּ שַׂקִּים מִגְּדוֹלָם וְעַד קְטַנָּם.
6 And the tidings reached the king of Ninveh and he arose from his throne and laid his robe from him and covered him with sackcloth and sat in ashes.
ו וַיִּגַּע הַדָּבָר אֶל מֶלֶךְ נִינְוֵה וַיָּקָם מִכִּסְאוֹ וַיַּעֲבֵר אַדַּרְתּוֹ מֵעָלָיו וַיְכַס שַׂק וַיֵּשֶׁב עַל הָאֵפֶר.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Ninveh by the decree of the king and his nobles saying: ‘Let neither man nor beast herd nor flock taste any thing; let them not feed nor drink water;
8 but let them be covered with sackcloth both man and beast and let them cry mightily unto God; yea let them turn every one from his evil way and from the violence that is in their hands.
ח וְיִתְכַּסּוּ שַׂקִּים הָאָדָם וְהַבְּהֵמָה וְיִקְרְאוּ אֶל אֱלֹהִים בְּחָזְקָה וְיָשֻׁבוּ אִישׁ מִדַּרְכּוֹ הָרָעָה וּמִן הֶחָמָס אֲשֶׁר בְּכַפֵּיהֶם.
9 Who knoweth whether God will not turn and repent and turn away from His fierce anger that we perish not?’
ט מִי יוֹדֵעַ יָשׁוּב וְנִחַם הָאֱלֹהִים וְשָׁב מֵחֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ וְלֹא נֹאבֵד.
10 And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil which He said He would do unto them; and He did it not.
va-YAR ha-e-lo-HEEM et ma-a-say-HEM kee SHA-vu mi-dar-KAM ha-ra-AH va-yi-NA-khem ha-e-lo-HEEM al ha-ra-AH a-SHER di-BER la-a-SOT la-HEM v’-LO a-SAH
י וַיַּרְא הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם כִּי שָׁבוּ מִדַּרְכָּם הָרָעָה וַיִּנָּחֶם הָאֱלֹהִים עַל הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לַעֲשׂוֹת לָהֶם וְלֹא עָשָׂה.
3:10 That they turned from their evil way
The people of Nineveh fast, wear sackcloth, and sit in dust and ashes, all in the hope that this would bring the Lord to forgive them. What Jonah teaches us, however, is that it is not the external actions that lead to their forgiveness. Instead, what impresses God is the fact that they abandon their evil ways and commit to behave in a righteous and just manner in the future. Without a genuine change of heart, the external behavior remains an empty gesture.