According to the Ibn Ezra, Nineveh had previously been a righteous city, so they were given a chance to repent, whereas Sodom and Gomorrah didn't merit a prophet to warn them.
Ibn Ezra, Jonah 1:2:
והנה מצאנו כתוב היתה עיר גדולה לאלהים שהיו יריאים השם מקדם... ופירוש
לאלהים כי היו יריאים השם הימים הקדמונים רק עתה בימי יונה החלו לעשות
רע. ולולי זה ...
Your question assumes that there were guards blocking anyone from crossing from Judah to Israel. The background of the assumption is probably the following two sources:
Sanhedrin 102a, according to which Jeroboam decreed that anyone who goes to Jerusalem would be killed
הם העמיקו משלי אני אמרתי כל שאינו עולה לרגל עובר בעשה והם אמרו כל העולה לרגל ידקר ...
The only Rishon I saw who identifies the Dag Gadol in his commentary is [R Eliezer of Beaugency to Yonah 2:1], and he identifies it as a "בַלְיינְא וכיוצא בו", which is a baleine (etc.) in French (see also here) or a whale in English. Therefore, I find it very hard to believe that there is any issue with explaining it as such, and I would recommend that ...
Malbim explains that ספינה (related to ספון, "concealed") is the lowest room of a ship (whereas אניה is the entire ship). Verse 5 is stressing that Yona descended to the lowest room so that he drown there. Were he higher in the ship, he reasoned, he may be thrown overboard and tossed on the waves until he reached land and survive.
They are synonyms. The latter is used per the GR"A (R' Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer, also known as the Vilna Gaon) to be a hint (remez) to the ego (the אני) - according to his exegesis, the entire story is an allegory for the journey of the soul in this world, and the אניה represents the body.
When Nimrod started doing Avoda Zara, the nation of Ashur had no interest in idolatry. The nation of Ashur left their homes and established a new city "Ninve". In that merit Hashem sent Yona to Ninve to tell them to do Teshuva. (Imrei Chein)
Jonah 3:8 - see Radak - says that the sin of Ninvei was Chamas - translated by many as robbery. We see similarly in Braishis 6:11 (or with English) by the Great Flood by Noach which came upon the world for that reason.
There are others that translate Chamas differently. However it was Chamas that was the reason why Hashem was ready to destroy Ninvai.
The Posuk does not say that there was more sun than shade. On the contrary the Posuk says "Vayeshev Tacteho Bzel" which translates into "He sat under it in the shade.
The following Posuk says that a Kikoyon was shade upon him, and the Radak explains that this happened 40 days later when the Sukka dried out and therefore it was not providing shade anymore.
ואף על פי שעשה לו סוכה לצל, אולי יבשו עצי הסוכה, כי ישב שם עד מלאות לו ארבעים יום.
And Mezudat David:
כי צל הסוכה הוא דבר שאינו מתמיד, כי הולך ומתייבש מחום השמש; ולא כן הקיקיון, היונק רטיבות הארץ.
Both explain the fronds Yonah put up dried out (Since he apperantly waited there for some time), and he then needed another solution.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef Mo'adim pg. 101) rules that a Cohen may be called up for Maftir Yonah:
Kitzur Yalkut Yosef 622:9:
כהן שזכה בקניית עליית מפטיר של מנחת יום הכפורים, כי נכספה וגם כלתה
נפשו לקרוא בהפטרת יונה, יש לו על מה שיסמוך שיעלה לעליית מפטיר, אחר
שקראו כהן ולוי. ובלבד שיאמר השליח צבור, ואף על פי שהוא כהן יעמוד
A Cohen ...
He certainly can. All that needs to happen is to have everyone else in the room be of the same lineage as himself, or at most only one member of a different lineage (Shulchan Aruch OC 135:12). Alternatively, if all he is interested in doing is reading it and not neccesarily getting the Aliyah, he can serve as the Baal Keriya for the Haftarah if the minyan is ...
How to explain to an atheist? Don't look to Johnny:
Nine-year-old Joey was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday School.
'Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt . When he got to the Red Sea, he had his army build a pontoon bridge and all the people walked ...
According to http://ohr.edu/1231, the Shlah says that their doing teshuvah inspires us to do it as well; and the Sefer HaTodaah ("The Book of Our Heritage") says that it's to show that you can't run away from G-d.
More of a partial answer, really, but still a useful contribution.
In Yonah, G-d gives a specific reason for having mercy on them. In Yonah 4:11, G-d says:
Now should I not take pity on Nineveh, the great city, in which there are many more than one hundred twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and many beasts as well?
As it says in the Unetanneh Tokef, Yom Kippur is Judgment Day for all, not just for Jews:
וְכָל בָּאֵי עולָם יַעַבְרוּן לְפָנֶיךָ כִּבְנֵי מָרון. כְּבַקָּרַת רועֶה עֶדְרו. מַעֲבִיר צאנו תַּחַת שִׁבְטו .כֵּן תַּעֲבִיר וְתִסְפּר וְתִמְנֶה וְתִפְקד נֶפֶשׁ כָּל חָי. וְתַחְתּךְ קִצְבָה לְכָל בְּרִיּותֶיךָ. וְתִכְתּב אֶת גְּזַר דִּינָם:
בְּראשׁ הַשָּׁנָה ...
Does this mean that we, literally, should not feed animals (including Livestock and Pets, even Service Animals) on Yom Kippur or are animals not considered people (and are exempt from fasting) despite this line in the The Book?
This line in Jonah is not discussing Yom Kippur. The entire book of Jonah is not discussing Yom Kippur. The fast discussed in Jonah ...
Mikra (the TaNaCh), as opposed to Aggadaic Medrashim and Talmudic passages, are not allegories. Even when the verse is hinting a lesson, we learn that אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו, the verse does not abandon its simple meaning.
There are a few exceptions, though. Firstly, there is such a thing as exaggerations when that is a manner of speaking. A famous example ...
I'm sure there are simpler and deeper answers, but if we go with the Midrash that the king of Nineveh was none other than the Pharaoh of Exodus -- yes, that guy who repeatedly ignored Moses' warnings, watched his empire unravel in a matter of months because of it, then eventually washed ashore from the Red Sea (the lone survivor) -- well, you'd understand ...
To learn from the Teshuvah of the city of Ninveh (Siddur Rashi, Machzor Vitri, Rokeach). The Tzeidah Laderech adds: if the inhabitants of Ninveh who were not Jewish could fully repent, how much more so us who stood before Har Sina etc.
To learn that one cannot flee from Hashem (Abudraham, Chofetz Chaim in Shaar Hatziyon 622:6)
The fact that the ship was in ...
To the bottom of the mountains I descended, the earth-its bars are
closed on me forever; but You brought up my life from Gehinnom, O
Lord, my God.
To the bottoms of the mountains I descended: To the end of the measure of the mountains fixed to the deep, I descended. And I said...
When he was swallowed by the fish it brought ...
There were probably a minimum of 10 good men left in Ninveh so He gave them the option to repent but there were not even 10 good men in Sodom and Gemora. This is learned by the discussion Avraham has with G-d where he tries to argue about not destroying Sodom and G.
The animals may have been involved in sin such as gilui arayot and avodah zara so although they must have been induced in doing sin, and were probabaly surrounded by sin, they too were made to repent. Their owners who helped commit the sins repented and made their animals fast too.
BTW: It is interesting that Hashem argues with Yona about having pity on ...
Yona's problem is why He gave them a chance to do Teshuva. Yona understood that they did Teshuva, but he would have rather they not have the opportunity (rather like אין מספיקים בידו לעשות תשובה - One who says I will sin and repent will not be given the opportunity to repent Yoma 8:9 - or as was done to Pharoh where his heart was hardened).
Hashem answers ...
They didn't ignore his suggestion. This is how the pesukim go (according to Malbim):
1:12 — Yonah tells them that the storm is to punish him and not them, and since it's here to punish him for running away, they should throw him away so he can get his punishment.
1:13 — They reasoned that since the punishment is for running away, it would be more ...