The book of Jonah is a challenging book. While some scholars have concentrated their efforts on deciphering the historical context of the book and whether such context is helpful for understanding the text, others have focused on the character of Jonah, and have seeing him as an ethnocentric Israelite prophet who apparently hates the nations and has a hard time accepting the inclusive scope of YHWH’s mission. This latter interpretation of the character of Jonah has being used to promote anti-Semitism for many centuries. In this paper, I propose two alternative readings to the book of Jonah. The first alternative that I propose is to read the book of Jonah through the eyes of minorities who suffer from the structure of the imperialist powers in the world. My claims is that minorities who live under the oppression of dominant power can see themselves in the character of the prophet Jonah. The second one is to try to find women’s voices in the book of Jonah. Although the book does not mention women at all, I will offer a Palestinian feminist reading of the book that will uncover helpful insights for the struggles of Palestinian women. This analysis will depend on two elements of the book: the theme of the book of Jonah and the Hebrew term rḥm, “merciful.” I will illustrate how Palestinian women can learn from Jonah’s narrative and how YHWH is identified with women. I conclude that a Palestinian feminist reading of the book of Jonah displays how YHWH calls minorities and oppressed peoples to change their situation and to challenge their oppressors. Moreover, YHWH’s own identity as described in the book can be a powerful source of motivation for Palestinian women today to change their situation under their own patriarchal society and particularly under the Israeli occupation that marks their daily existence.
 Reading Jonah Through the Eyes of Minorities
 Usually scholars have depended on the character of Jonah to interpret the book. Jonah became the key person of the interpretation. Unfortunately, for a long time, an anti-Semitic perspective dominated the interpretation of the book. Jonah was described as a “bad Jew” who does not accept the gentiles, but desired their destruction. However, this kind of interpretations did not do justice to the book because it lacked of understanding of the Israelites’ experience with exile and under the oppression of the Assyrians. Other scholars tried to justify Jonah’s xenophobic reaction by claiming that he was afraid that his prophecy of doom would not be considered a true prophecy, according to Deut 18:15-22. I argue that the narrative of Jonah itself is the key of interpretation equally important to the character of Jonah himself. It could be interpreted as a symbol, proverb, fiction or tale. The author uses hyperbolic language, such as describing Nineveh as “the great city”, or having a fish swallow Jonah, and making Jonah remain in the belly of the fish for three days. The use of hyperbolae becomes apparent when one considers questions such as: How could Jonah breathe in the belly of the fish? If the fish was a whale, can we find a whale in rivers like the Tigris or Euphrates? These descriptions invite us to concentrate on the theme behind the book, not the detailed expressions.
 I propose that in order to understand the message of the book we need to focus on the story itself, including Jonah, the Ninevites, and the audience of the book. One of the ways to interpret the text is to look at the book from the eyes of minorities who do not fit in the structure of the imperial power of their world.
 The first thing that we notice when reading the story through the eyes of minorities is that YHWH seems to put Jonah in a difficult situation; Jonah is asked to go to his enemies. This is unusual. It is true that sometimes YHWH sends prophets to prophesy against foreign nations as do Amos 1-2, Jeremiah 46-48, and Nahum, who prophesied against Nineveh, but usually the prophets prophesy against the nations from within their own land and are not commanded to actually go to the land of the enemies. Jonah’s is a dangerous commission, to go to those who might kill him! Now let’s look at Jonah’s dilemma through minority eyes, for instance from the perspective of the plight of the Palestinian people who are being dispossessed of their lands and systematically marginalized and oppressed by the powerful state of Israel. Imagine then, a contemporary scenario mirroring the book of Jonah where YHWH appears to a Palestinian and asks him to go to the state of Israel and prophesy against her because her sins have come before YHWH. This new prophet will likely be scared to go to Israel and fulfill his mission because he is aware of the dangers Palestinians have to face there. He could be arrested by the soldiers and thrown in prison, especially if he enters the state of Israel without a permit. It is easy to imagine why he might try to run away from his commission, like Jonah. Perhaps, Jonah too had some concern for his safety. In the Biblical text, Jonah turns around and fulfills his mission, so let us imagine that the Palestinian prophet also turns around and goes to the state of Israel and fulfills his calling to prophesy that Israel would be destroyed unless she repents of her sins. In the book of Jonah the Ninevites repent, so let us imagine that in our contemporary imaginary scenario the people of Israel to whom this Palestinian prophet has been sent repent and YHWH changes YHWH ’s mind. It is not hard to understand why, given the sense of accumulated anger and frustration felt by the people under the current occupation of their lands and of their very lives, this hypothetical prophet would stubbornly continue to hold on to the original prophecy, and wish that Israel be destroyed; because that is the only way he can imagine that his people could find peace and deliverance from the state of oppression that is currently strangling them of their dignity and of their livelihoods. The Palestinians listening to this story would understand very well why the Palestinian prophet originally chose to run away instead of delivering the prophesy that he was sent to deliver. They would also understand why he resisted YHWH’s desire to have the Israelites repent of their sins against the Palestinian people and be forgiven and have life. The Palestinians would understand the Palestinian prophet because they suffered from the Israelis oppression and they do not trust Israel’s repentance. For example, during negotiating the peace process between the Palestinian Authority and the state of Israel, Israel keeps confiscating the Palestinians land and demolishing their houses. In the imaginary scenario, it would be hard on the Palestinians to trust in the sincerity of the repentance of the state of Israel. If the state of Israel truly repents, it is going to take a long time for the Palestinians to trust them. The prophet Jonah was not given time to trust in the repentance of Nineveh. Therefore, he continued to wish for their downfall, despite the explicit will of YHWH. It is not hard to understand why the oppressed minorities might hope for the fall of the power structures that make their lives miserable and make them vulnerable.
 In sum, the author of the book of Jonah does not intend to show Jonah as a rebel against YHWH’s will, or as a xenophobe who hates the gentiles. Nor does the author present Jonah as a believer of ethnocentric nationalism, but as one who comes from an oppressed minority group who is legitimately worried about the very survival of his people. Jonah’s desire for the fall of Nineveh, even after the city had repented, is really about his hope to see an end the oppression of his people. Jonah does understand the compassionate character of YHWH, who gives chances to the wicked and who is merciful, but, he was consumed by concern for the safety of his people.
 God Empowers Minority
 As a minority person, I understand the book of Jonah as a book that depicts YHWH as a God of chances. YHWH is willing to forgive and to give a new chance to the oppressors when the oppressors repent. YHWH used Jonah, whose people were oppressed by the Assyrians, to challenge the imperialist power of Assyria. That means YHWH can use the powerless people to transform the oppression of the oppressors and to help them to improve and amend their behavior. The book of Jonah empowers minorities and encourages them to believe that they can bring about change in their lives and even in the life of their powerful oppressors. In the end, Jonah did preach the word of God to challenge the Ninevites and to call them to repentance. It could be said that he used a nonviolent method to transform the behavior of the Ninevites and to change their minds and hearts. Therefore, the book of Jonah models nonviolence as a powerful approach for minorities to challenge their oppressors. The book of Jonah can be a source of encouragement for Palestinians to continue to use nonviolent methods to effectively challenge the oppression of the state of Israel, an oppression that can be most unambiguously seen, for instance, in the confiscating of their lands, in the building of an illegal separation wall, and in the proliferation of Israeli settlements in Palestinian land. Furthermore, as we shall see below, the book of Jonah can also speak to the situation of Palestinian women and empower them to contribute to the nonviolent protest and work to change their circumstances.
 Feminist Reading of the Book of Jonah
 It is true that the book of Jonah is a very patriarchal narrative. It does not even mention women in the text at all. God, Jonah, sailors, the king of Nineveh, and the inhabitants are addressed in masculine form. There seems to be absolutely no voice for women in the text. Nineveh is a feminine term and is described throughout the book as a wicked city. The author refers to the people of Nineveh as a collective, using the Hebrew term ‘nashinenwa, “people of Nineveh,” which includes male and female (Jonah 3:5). However, even though the voice of women does not appear in the narrative, the narrative does reflect a feminist voice.
 The Theme of the Book of Jonah
 The book of Jonah can be shown to stand against classism and racism in a way that is compatible with much of contemporary feminist theologies. For example, in a sense the book of Jonah advocates for diversity and pluralism because YHWH wants to show Jonah that YHWH is not a narrowly conceived tribal God but rather the God of all nations. No nation is excluded from God’s rule. In that sense, in the book of Jonah, YHWH is surprisingly inclusive. YHWH is God of the whole universe and “God is a liberator and a savior of oppressed and sinful people, and a God of justice who demands just living from all people.” This perspective of YHWH helps to fight racism between different nations, particularly between enemy nations. When YHWH offers the Ninevites forgiveness, YHWH shows that the Israelites and the Ninevites come under the sovereignty of YHWH and that they are equal before YHWH.
 This perspective of YHWH can apply to gender discrimination as well. If the book of Jonah demonstrates that YHWH is an inclusive deity, it can then even be argued that YHWH wants men and women to be equal. YHWH wants women to be treated as honored and active agents in developing society. God is against any social structure that puts women on the lower rank of the society; YHWH stands against androcentric behavior and structures. For example, in Palestinian society, we see that the Palestinian language and religion have ignored the presence of Palestinian women. The liturgy and sermons are written in masculine language. The priests and pastors speak to Palestinian women using androcentric language. Our gender is ignored along with our voices. The androcentric bias gives Palestinian men power to control women and prevent them from being equal to them. If Palestinian women try to rebel against their patriarchal structure, they face social ostracism. From my experience, I noticed that Palestinian society honors the role of women as mothers, but does not appreciate enough the many other roles that women have. There is a Palestinian saying addressed to ambitious women who seek a different role in their lives besides being mothers, the saying is: ‘Don't waste your time dreaming, you'll end up in the kitchen.’ This proverb works to disempower women and limit their roles in Palestinian society to work in their homes and take care of their family. This proverb implies that no matter the professional work that the Palestinian women are holding, they have to give it up for the sake of motherhood.
 Palestinian society expects from men to expand their power and roles beyond fatherhood. Palestinian women need to stand against the androcentric definition of women and their role. As YHWH included the Ninevites in YHWH’s sovereignty and made them equal to the Israelites, women need to seek to find ways to be taken seriously in Palestinian society and to be fully included. I argue that it will be helpful to begin working on changing the liturgy. Changing the liturgy will be the first step toward having an inclusive church, which demonstrates that women and men are equal before YHWH. Liturgy and sermons should be written in inclusive language that addresses women. There is a need to have liturgy that meets the need of women and allow them to express themselves fully. Liturgy has a very powerful impact on believers. It connects them with God and with each other. When the liturgy adopts a female voice, it strengthens the presence of women. Palestinian hymns are also written in androcentric language, and thus women need to write hymns that express their relationship with YHWH as Jonah did (chap. 2). The message of inclusiveness is what Palestinian women need to focus on to seek their liberation.
 The Feminine Nature of YHWH
 It is important to notice that Jonah appeals to the feminine nature of YHWH by addressing YHWH as “merciful.” YHWH understands very well how much the Israelites suffered from the Assyrians and how Jonah wishes the Assyrians (Ninevites) to vanish so that his people will be oppressed no more. But YHWH, according to Jonah, is merciful (Jonah 4:2). Jonah uses the Hebrew term, rḥûm “merciful, compassionate” to describe YHWH. Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann argue that the adjective rḥûm comes from rḥm, “to have mercy,” and derives from reḥem, “womb,” the source of all human and animal life. H. Simian-Yofre compares the term rḥm with its cognitive term in Akkadian and Ugartic terms. He illustrates that “in Akkadian it [rḥm] appears as remu, which means compassion and womb.” In Ugaritic, rḥm can mean servant, deriving from reḥem, “womb” (Jgs 5:30). The plural of reḥem is raḥamîm, which means compassion, mercy and love. Hence, the womb becomes the source of compassion. According to Mike Butterworth, raḥamîm signifies emotion and contradict anger (Zech 1:2, 12-17). “The meaning of raḥamîm signifies a warm compassion ready to forgive sins, to replace judgment with grace. It is found with ḥnn, be gracious.” When the adjective rḥûm “merciful, compassionate” is linked with ḥnn, “gracious,” it refers to “a long liturgical formula that spells out the divine attributes…gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (Exod 34:6; Ps 86:15; Neh 9:31).” Jonah 4:2 uses a liturgical formula asking YHWH to take his life. When Jonah uses rḥûm, he demonstrates how “YHWH treats all human beings without regard to nationality or religion.” As rḥûm derives from reḥem, “womb,” YHWH is identified with women.
 Phyllis Trible argues that “an organ unique to the female becomes a vehicle pointing to the compassion of God.” YHWH is identified with woman, particularly with her organ, the source of all human and animal kind. Rosemary Radford Ruether argues that “YHWH is described like a mother or like a woman in travail with the birth of a child. These references occur particularly when the author wishes to describe God’s unconditional love and faithfulness to the people despite their sins. They express God’s compassion and forgiveness.” YHWH is always the agent of rḥm and relates to the relationship between a parent and a child. It is remarkable to learn from Job 31:13-15 that rḥm is the place where everybody is equal ‘If I have rejected the cause of my male or female slaves, when they brought a complaint against me; what then shall I do when God rises up? When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him? Did not he who made me in the womb make them? And did not one fashion us in the womb? (NRSV)’ Gender, social status, and color mean nothing in the perception of creation. The womb becomes the place of equality and fairness. The womb, which means compassion and mercy, provides justice, equality, and protection for the embryo to grow. Darrow L. Miller argues that “The womb is unique to women. Males do not have them and thus are unable to express, in their bodies, the motherly love of God the way a woman can... God is compassionate, merciful, and loving. He has manifested these characteristics most profoundly in a woman’s womb or uterus. He is the God of the womb. He made the womb to express his nature.” When men come to understand the motherly love of God that is embedded in women’s body and is part of their nature, then they will honor women and support their calling for justice and gender equality because the nature of God is working through women to make change.
 Feminists tend to understand mercy and compassion in different ways. The feminist Kelly J. Murphy argues that “mercy is not so much in opposition to justice, but forms part of a different, but equally valid, way of doing moral reasoning that is particular to girls and/or women.” Justice requires reaction and mercy as well. Karen Lebacqz gives a deeper feminist understanding of justice.
Justice for feminists is not simply “giving to each what is due” or “treating equal cases equally.” The scope of justice is broader than the distributive paradigm of liberal philosophy. In particular, justice requires attention to groups and an option for the poor and oppressed. Social structures are judged by how they impact on the life prospects of the marginalized, particularly of women.
 Justice and mercy are two sides of the same coin. Palestinian feminists need to seek justice through rḥm mercy. And rḥm does not mean sympathy for a person, or as Sally B. Purvis states “to be moved by the pain or joy of another;” compassion or mercy requires a response to the wrong action and a protest for the advantage of the powerless and marginalized.
 The women in Palestine protest to change their situation. In Palestinian society, as in many others, women tend to be identified with the virtue of compassion and YHWH’s compassion always makes change in the life of the weak. When Palestinian women see the oppression of their children and see that they are treated badly by both Palestinian men and Israeli soldiers, they have compassion for them, and thus they work to change their situation. Unlike their feminist and womanist counterparts from the so-called first world, Palestinian feminists are facing dual oppression, the Israeli oppression and the Palestinian patriarchal society.
 Through governmental organizations such as the General Union of Palestinian Women and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs women bring attention to gender equality, support feminist activism and bring attention to the national struggle. Palestinian feminists are also working through non-governmental organizations to focus on “strategic gender interests, lobbying the PA (Palestinian Authority) for women’s equal political and civil rights, but also addressing taboo topics, such as domestic violence, honor crimes or the personal status law.”  Because the Palestinian women and God share the virtue of compassion, Palestinian women are moved to challenge the Palestinian government to change the laws in order to be equal to men in ways such as the equality of political presentation, pay equity, protection, and right to inheritance. Palestinian women are moved to protest to end the aggression that is manifested in many forms such as military assault on the Palestinians territories by the Israeli authorities. Palestinian women desire to be equal to men in political life, just as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 calls for equal participation of women in making decisions that relate to the maintenance of peace and security in a conflict area. Palestinian women need to have a voice in the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Their wisdom along with their compassion is needed because women are an integral part of Palestinian society. They need to participate in making decisions regarding the future state of Palestine, not marginalized or letting men decide how their life should be as Palestinian citizens.
 Palestinian women show their compassion for each other by standing up for each other and empowering each other. Palestinian women understand that their oppression has political, gender, and economic dimensions. To achieve justice is to change and stop these kinds of oppression. As marginalized women, we depend on men to support us, and the Palestinian economy depends on Israel’s. The compassion of the Palestinian women encourages them to strive to change this situation and work to be independent economically. This independence relates to gender equality as well. Palestinian women need to be equal to men so that they can be independent. They seek to regain their rights, which were unjustly taken from them by our patriarchal society. For Palestinian women, being compassionate is a long process that seeks to end the Israeli oppression and achieve gender equality. Palestinian men always describe women as being very compassionate and consider this as a weakness, but when we learn that YHWH is compassionate just like women, then understanding women will be different. When men realize that God and women share the same virtue of compassion, they will understand the changes that woman want to make in their lives. Men will be able to see that the virtue of compassion is not a weakness but a strength that transforms women’s lives, families, communities and nations
 The book of Jonah provides meaningful lessons when we read the text through the eyes of minorities and from feminist perspective. The book of Jonah empowers minorities and the oppressed to challenge their oppressors to change their behavior. The oppressed and minorities have power within themselves that they can use to transform their lives. A nonviolent approach is an effective method that can move the oppressors to stop their aggression and to repent. Our God is God of chances and that God gives the oppressed a chance to speak for themselves and gives a chance to the oppressors to repent and change their behaviors.
 Although the book of Jonah does not mention women, Palestinian women can learn from the book. As I argued above, the book itself encourages abolishing racism and sexism, and shows that part of the nature of YHWH is feminine. Describing YHWH as merciful with a word that is derived from the Hebrew term “womb” indicates that YHWH is identified with women. Women are often seen as being compassionate which is part of YHWH’s character. But in this case being compassionate means the ability of women to transform their lives by responding to the wrong action and to speak for the marginalized.
 Palestinian women need to overcome the obstacles and challenges that are imposed on them by the Palestinian patriarchal society. Transforming a whole society requires lots of work. The church is important in Palestinian society and can do a lot to transform it; therefore, change must start there. The book of Jonah encourages women to make changes in the church, which includes liturgy and hymns.
 In conclusion, my understanding of the book of Jonah, as Palestinian feminist Christian, is that it is a narrative that offers me an invitation to encourage the Palestinian church to integrate a gender perspective into her work. The book also invites me to encourage promoting women’s roles in decision-making in a conflict area like Palestine. The peace process between Palestine and Israel is dominated by men. Palestinian women’s voice is very limited. Reading the book of Jonah from the eyes of minorities and from a feminist perspective motivates me to use the compassion that God created in me to challenge the structure of the Palestinian patriarchal society and at the same time to challenge the Israeli oppression. Being a woman does not mean that I am weak. God can use underprivileged persons such as myself and my Palestinian sisters to challenge the dominant powers and structures in our society and lead the entire Palestinian society to repentance and transformation.
Dr. Niveen Sarras, has Ph.D in Hebrew Bible. She is a Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem; and an M.Div student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. Currently, she is doing her internship at Advent Lutheran Church in Morgan Hill, California.
 Some scholars argue that the book of Jonah was written during the monarch period, particularly in the eighth century B.C.E. see R. Reed Lessing, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 1980), 13-18; Y. Kaufman,האמונה הישראלית תולדות, 4 vols.; Tel Aviv: MosadBialik, 1938-56), ii, 279-87. Nonetheless, the majority of scholars argue that the book of Jonah is written in the post-exilic period. See Andre Lacocque, Pierre-Emmanuel Lacocque, Jonah: A Psycho-Religious Approach to the Prophet (n.p :University of South Carolina Pr. 1990), 13-23; Maria Kassel, “Jonah: the Jonah Experience—for Women Too?” in Feminist Biblical Interpretation: A Compendium of Critical Commentary on the Books of the Bible and Related Literature, ed., LuiseSchottroff and Marie-Theres Wacker (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2012), 412. See also Ehud Ben Zvi, The Signs of Jonah: Reading and Rereading in Ancient Yehud, library Hebrew Bible/old Testament Studies (New York: T&T Clark, 2009),3-13, who discussed that Jonah was written in the Persian period, and he proposes that the there are two readers of the text: the first readers and the rereaders of the text who understood the text according to their social location.
 Janet Howe Gaines, Forgiveness in a Wounded World: Jonah's Dilemma (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003); Daniel J. Simundson, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005).
 Janet Howe Gaines, Forgiveness in a Wounded World: Jonah's Dilemma (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003); Daniel J. Simundson, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005).
Kevin A. Wilson, Conversations with Scripture - The Law (n.p: Morehouse Publishing, 2006), 85; Daniel J. Simundson, Abingdon Old Testament Commentary - Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (Abingdon Press, 200), 266.
 Maria Kassel, “Jonah: the Jonah Experience—for Women Too?” in Feminist Biblical Interpretation: A Compendium of Critical Commentary on the Books of the Bible and Related Literature, ed., LuiseSchottroff and Marie-Theres Wacker (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2012), 411.
 G. M Landes, “Jonah: A Māšal?” in Israelite Wisdom: Theological and Literary Essays in Honor of Samuel Terrien , ed. John G. Gammie (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1981).
 Miguel A. De La Torre, Liberating Jonah: Forming an Ethics of Reconciliation (New York: Orbis Books, 2007), 13.
NaimStifanAteek, A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2008), 73.
 H. J. Stoebe, “rhm” Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament: 3:1226 Edited by Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann. 3 vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.
 H. Simian-Yofre, “רחם,” TDOT 8: 438 (437-452).
 Phyllis Trible, God and Rhetoric of Sexuality (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1986), 33.
 Mike Butterworth, “רחם,” NIDOTTE 3:1094.
 Mike Butterworth, “רחם,” NIDOTTE 3:1094.
 Mike Butterworth, “רחם,” NIDOTTE 3:1094 (1093-1095); H. Simian-Yofre, “רחם,” TDOT 8: 448-449 (437-452); Phillip Cary, Jonah (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2008), 131-133.
 H. Simian-Yofre, “רחם,” TDOT 8: 450.
 Phyllis Trible, God and Rhetoric of Sexuality (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1986), 38.
 Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology: with a New Introduction, 10th ed. (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1993), 56.
Stoebe, “rhm,” 3:1229.
Darrow L. Miller, Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women in Building Healthy Cultures (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books, 2007), 144, http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=2033884 (accessed September 2, 2015).
 Kelly J. Murphy , “Jonah,” in Women's Bible Commentary, eds, Carol Ann Newsom, Sharon H. Ringe, Jacqueline E. Lapsley (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 321.
Karen Lebacqz , “justice,” in Dictionary of feminist theology. 158.
 Sally B. Purvis, “compassion,” in Dictionary of feminist theology, 51.
 Sophie Richter-Devroe, “Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in Palestinian territories,” Directorate General For Internal Policies Policy Department C: Citizens' Rights And Constitutional Affairs (Brussels, European Parliament, 2011. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/studies (May 12, 2014).