Jonah (Ch 3-4)

The disobedient prophet Jonah had received a severe lesson at the hand of God, but being profited by his lesson he was ready to undertake the commission which had originally been issued to him.

The story of Jonah before God’s Omniscience and Omnipotence is not just a manifestation of himself or even for Jerusalem, Judea or Israel but a manifestation of the whole human race.

Jonah 3

1 And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, — Jonah having been scourged by the Lord for his stubbornness and disobedience, and being humbled under the mighty hand of God, is tried a second time; perhaps Jonah had settled down “somewhere” for the Word of God that came the second time, said, “Arise and go (Jonah 3:2)” and that is inconsistent with the idea that Jonah was already on the way after his first bad experience.

“Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” — Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, the Assyrian capital and metropolis, and preach unto it the preaching that God bid him, loudly proclaiming the message which the Lord would reveal to him in due time.

So Jonah arose and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. — so Jonah arose and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord, in unquestioning obedience. Now, Nineveh was an exceeding great city, literally, “a great city to God,”

— of three days’ journey; in compass, being sixty miles from end to end; allowing twenty miles for a day’s journey on foot.

And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” — and as Jonah began to enter into the city the first twenty miles toward the center of Nineveh, he preached wherever he found a suitable place and a fitting opportunity; he cried and said, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown;

— the word “overthrown” here, literally means, “Destroyed from the very foundation” and is the same word used in speaking of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah;

— likely to be in Aramaic, which was a lingua franca for the people at the time, understood by Jews and Assyrians alike.

So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. — so the people heard the Word of God, believed and obeyed it; and were filled with wholesome fear; they proclaimed a fast as an outward evidence of their sorrow and put on sackcloth, the garment of mourning, from the greatest of them even to the least of them, old and young, all without exception.

For word came unto the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. — for word came unto the king of Nineveh, into the neighborhood of whose palace the prophet had very likely progressed in his first day’s journey, and he arose from his throne, symbol of his earthly power, and he laid his imperial robe from him, his royal mantle, and covered him with sackcloth, also adopting the mourning-dress, and sat in ashes, all signs of sorrow and repentance. Cf Job 2:8Ezekiel 27:30.

And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, “Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water. — and the king caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king himself and his nobles, the royal heralds being dispatched in accordance with the custom of making edicts of this kind known, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything, as sufferers with the people; let them not feed nor drink water.

But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth and cry mightily unto God. Yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. — but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, clothed in mourning, and cry mightily unto God, the very lowing of the cattle and the bleating of the sheep in their distress being considered appeals for mercy; yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, from his sinful habits;

— and from the violence that is in their hands. Cf Isaiah 59:6; their rapine and oppression, their thefts and robberies, and preying upon the substance of others; which seem to be the reigning vices of this city, in doing which many murders were committed also; see Nahum 3:1.

Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?” — who can tell if God will turn and repent, the possibility of His doing so being suggested by His interest in sending a prophet to warn them, and turn away from His fierce anger that we perish not? It was a true repentance on the part of the Ninevites and is so cited by the Messiah in reproof of those who, with much greater light and privileges, did not repent. Matthew 12:41Luke 11:32, even if its effects were not lasting.

10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way. And God repented of the evil that He had said that He would do unto them, and He did it not. — and God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way, from the security of their open transgressions of the Lord’s will; 

— and God repented of the evil that He had said that he would do unto them; and He did it not, letting His mercy guide His actions rather than a stern and immutable justice. As God spared Nineveh when its inhabitants turned to Him in repentance, so He is ready to show mercy to all those who lay aside their obstinate impenitence and plead with Him for forgiveness.

Jonah 4

1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. — but it displeased Jonah exceedingly, namely, that the Lord did not carry out His threat of punishment upon the people of Nineveh, and he was very angry, provoked, filled with grief and vexation;

— whatever the reasons for Jonah’s anger, he was wrong; his anger was as much a repudiation of God as was his flight in Jonah 1. It was an anger that could not tolerate the thought of God having compassion upon the heathen; and even among the Elects from the nations/Gentiles ahead of those from the Israelites.

And he prayed unto the Lord and said, “I pray Thee, O Lord, was not this what I said when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish; for I knew that Thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and repent of the evil. — and Jonah prayed unto the Lord and said, I pray Thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, the argument which he had used within himself;

— when Jonah was yet in his country? when he first received the commission to go to Nineveh, he fled before unto Tarshish, that is, he anticipated the fruitlessness of his errand, the fact that his prediction against Nineveh was not fulfilled; for he knew that Thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and repent Thee of the evil. Cf Exodus 34:6.

— the words were spoken out of a very decided ill humor, because Jonah, as he thought, had been sent to deliver a message which the Lord intended to revoke and which so readily produced repentance. It was a sad contradiction between an irritable mood and the better knowledge of his head and heart.

Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech Thee, my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” — therefore now, O Lord, take my life from me, Jonah beseech God; for he thought it was better for him to die than to live, his impatience of life under disappointed hopes of Israel’s repentance through the destruction of Nineveh is like that of Elijah at his plan for to reform Israel, 1 Kings 18, failing through Jezebel. Cf 1 Kings 19:4;

— the entire world of spiritual reality, as Jonah had misunderstood it, had come crashing down around him; and his frustration was complete; not being able to bear the reproach of being a false prophet.

Then said the Lord, “Doest thou well to be angry?” — then said the Lord, in a preliminary reproof, Do thou well to be angry? Was there any justification for Jonah’s attitude? – an endeavour on the part of the Lord to provoke in Jonah for a self-examination of his own emotions and attitudes;

— the Targum says, “art thou exceeding angry?” and so other interpreters, Jewish and Christian understand the vigour of his anger.

So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city, and there made himself a booth and sat under it in the shadow till he might see what would become of the city. — so Jonah, still smarting under the displeasure which he felt, went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city, choosing an elevated portion in its immediate neighborhood, hoping it would provide a better vantage point for seeing the city overthrown,

— and there made him a booth, a temporary hut of branches and leaves, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city, whether the original judgement would not, after all, be carried out upon it; for the forty days named in his message had not yet elapsed.

And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad for the gourd. — and the Lord God prepared a gourd, the castor-oil plant, commonly called palm-crist, and made it to come up over Jonah, the plant growing up very rapidly, with its large leaves quickly casting a pleasant coolness, 

— that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief, to cause his peevishness to disappear and thus to afford him some relief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd, he enjoyed the shadow offered by the green plant.

But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd so that it withered. — but God, intending to teach Jonah a further lesson, prepared a worm, appointing it to that end, when the morning rose the next day, at the breaking of the dawn, and it smote the gourd that it withered, for it is a peculiarity of the castor-oil plant that it fades readily when injured.

And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, so that he grew faint and wished in himself to die, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” — and it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind, blowing with a sultry heat; 

— and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah that he fainted, overcome with the heat, and wished in himself to die, the reaction once more being rapid and furious, and said, It is better for him to die than to live, namely, in such circumstances, with everything combining to make life frustrated.

And God said to Jonah, “Doest thou well to be angry over the gourd?” And he said, “I do well to be angry, even unto death.” — and taking this opportunity to drive home His lesson, God said to Jonah, Does thou well to be angry for the gourd? And Jonah replied with a sudden flare of bitterness;

— and he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death; or, “I am very angry unto death” as the Targum says; Jonah was so very angry that he felt he cannot live under so much fretting and vexing.

10 Then said the Lord, “Thou hast had pity on the gourd for which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. — then the Lord said, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for one thou hast not labored, which had cost him no toil to rear, neither made it grow, Jonah not being obliged so much as to water it; which came up in a night and perished in a night, being, as the Hebrew has it, the son of a night, of only a night’s duration;

11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also many cattle?” — and should not God spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein there are more than six-score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, that is, 120,000 infants, who could not be accused of any particular wrong-doing, and also many cattle? This limitation would include children of three or four years old; and taking these as one fifth of the population, we should set the inhabitants at six hundred thousand in number;

— Jonah despised the Gentiles, being perfectly happy and satisfied of being an Israelite, a perfect type of the self-satisfied, complacent and indifferent elite, unmindful of its duty to be a light to the heathen, enjoying the favors and privileges that undoubtedly came to him as a popular prophet of God; this argument of Yehovah, in exposing the selfishness of the today’s prophets or shepherd, was at the same time sufficient to silence Jonah, as he stood rebuked before this exhibit of God’s Omniscience and Omnipotence;

— moreover, the tidings which Jonah was able to bring back to his countrymen was a most emphatic call to repentance, as the Messiah brings out in His reference to the repentance of the Ninevites. Israel failed to learn the lesson and therefore was cast out of its land. All the more is it necessary for us to consider the sign of the prophet Jonah and to cling to the confession of Him who could say of Himself, “Behold, here is more than Jonah!”

~ by Joel Huan on February 8, 2022.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: