Midrash Jonah is the midrash to the Book of Jonah, read on the Day of Atonement as hafṭarah during the Minḥah prayer, and containing a haggadic version of this prophetical book. In the editions the work consists of two parts; the second part, in which the story of Jonah is allegorically referred to the soul, beginning with the words "Wa-yomer Adonai la-dag," is reprinted in Adolf Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrash (i. 102 et seq.). This part is merely a literal translation from the Zohar (comp. ib. p. xx.); it is not found in the version printed by C. M. Horowitz (after a Codex De Rossi) in the Sammlung Kleiner Midraschim (Berlin, 1881). The first part, the midrash proper, is found also in the Yalḳuṭ to Jonah (part ii., §§ 550-551), with the exception of a few missing passages and with several variations; but here the Pirḳe Rabbi Eli'ezer is given as the source (for some passages, Yerushalmi and Babli).
Date and Authorship
Jellinek assumes that the first part of the Midrash Jonah was compiled subsequently to Yalḳuṭ. But as many passages which the Yalḳuṭ has in common with the Midrash Jonah—e.g., the penitential prayer given in Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrash (i. 99) and the description of Nineveh's grandeur there—are not found in Pirḳe Rabbi Eli'ezer; and as, furthermore, the author of the Yalḳuṭ probably did not find all this material in the Pirḳe Rabbi Eli'ezer, he must have taken his quotations from a midrash which was substantially identical with the Midrash Jonah (i.e., with the first part). The author of this midrash borrowed nearly the whole of ch. x. from the Pirḳe Rabbi Eli'ezer, and borrowed also from Yerushalmi and Babli. The version of the Codex De Rossi begins with the passage which in the Midrash Jonah is found in connection with iii. 3 et seq.; the extracts borrowed by the latter from Babli and Yerushalmi and inserted in the course of its commentary to this passage and later are missing in the Codex De Rossi. Then follows the end of part i. of the midrash, into which ch. x. of the Pirḳe Rabbi Eli'ezer has been interpolated. It concludes with the exposition of some verses—Deut. iv. 31, Micah vii. 8, and others. It may be noted, finally, that in a compilation included in the earlier editions of Tanḥuma to the pericope "Wayiḳra" (ed. Stettin, ib. § 8), which dates from a later time, ch. x. of the Pirḳe Rabbi Eli'ezer was also included.