Conventional interpretations of Jonah hold that the book's purpose is to endorse the power of repentance in averting divine wrath, or to promote a greater appreciation among readers for divine mercy rather than justice, or to dispute "exclusivist" attitudes that would confine divine grace to the people of Israel/Judah. This dissertation argues, in contrast to these interpretations, that the book of Jonah should best be understood as an exploration of the problem of a perceived lack of divine justice. In light of the Jonah's composition well after the historical destruction of Nineveh, the use of Nineveh in Jonah as an object of divine mercy would have struck a discordant note among the book's earliest readers. Elsewhere in the prophetic corpus, Nineveh is known specifically and exclusively for its international crimes and its ultimate punishment at the hands of Yhwh, an historical event (612 B.C.E.) that prophets took as a sign of Yhwh's just administration of the cosmos. The use of Nineveh in Jonah, therefore, is not intended to serve as a hypothetical example of the extent of Yhwh's mercy to even the worst sinners. Rather, readers of Jonah would have known that the reprieve granted Nineveh in Jonah 3 did not constitute "the end of the story" for Nineveh. To the contrary, the extension of divine mercy to Nineveh in Jonah, which is set in the eighth century B.C.E., would have been seen as only the first of Yhwh's moves in regard to that "city of blood." The central conflict of the book resides in Jonah's doubt in the reliability of divine justice. In the aftermath of Nineveh's reprieve in Jonah 3, the prophet complains that the merciful outcome was inevitable, and had nothing to do with the Ninevites' penitence. The episode of the growth and death of the qiqayon plant in Jonah 4:6-8, and its explanation in 4:10-11 comprise Yhwh's response to Jonah's accusation. The images employed in the growth and death of the plant, and in the events that follow its demise, connote destruction in the prophetic corpus. When Yhwh explains the meaning of the qiqayon to Jonah in 4:10-11, the deity makes no mention of either penitence or mercy. Rather, having established that the qiqayon represents Nineveh, Yhwh asserts that, although he has spared Nineveh at present, he will not regret its eventual destruction in the future.