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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

- Jonah

by Matthew Poole


OUR prophet owns himself by both his father's name and by his country; of this latter no great doubt is raised, though it appear not whether he was born in Gath-hepher, or whether it was the place of his abode when he was called to go envoy to the great city Nineveh; of the former, some do inquire whether it be an assumed name; and carry in it the character of some grace or virtue which was eminently in the man, or whether it were the proper name of the person. Amittai, in the Hebrew, denotes truth, veracity, or faith, with the pronoun possessive of the first person, My truth. Though Jonah, a dove by name, denounce dreadful things against Nineveh, yet he doth it as God's prophet, and God tells us by Jonah's pen; he is the son of his truth. Whether Obadiah were his father, and had this significant name Amittai given him for his owning the truth of God, and his true prophets, in the times of Ahab's apostacy; and whether his mother were that widow, whose son Elijah did raise from the dead; and whether he were the person sent by Elijah to anoint Jehu, Elisha, and Hazael, as the Jewish writers affirm; is of no certain demonstrability, and if demonstrated would be of no great moment or use to us. It is clear that (though this be the only book left under his name) he was employed as a prophet in Israel before he was sent into Assyria; for, 2 Kings 14:25, he prophesied the future prosperous successes of Jeroboam the Second, enlarging and establishing the borders of Israel; yet is it not certain to us, whether he appeared a prophet before Jeroboam's time, or in the beginning of his reign. Not far from this time we are sure we may date his lime, and range him among the first of the prophets who have left their entire volumes behind them. By this also we may guess who was the king of Assyria, who gave such a rare example of repentance to all succeeding monarchs: it admits a dispute, whether it was Sardanapalus or Belesus, otherwise Pul-belochus, and Pul in Scripture history; if the time do not best suit to the latter (as I think it may) rather than to the former, yet I am sure the unparalleled retiredness of Sardanapalus, reported in history, seems to me a reason why it must be some monarch that, more like a gallant man, lived more free, open, and of easy access, that the news might, as it is suggested it did, come to his hearing in the first day: such temper, it is like, Pul-belochus was of. Whoever was the king, Jonah little expected the success he did find; he thought so great a king and city would not mind him, or else would deride or punish him; or else if they believed him, then they would repent, God would spare them, and Jonah would be cried out on as a false prophet; upon this he declines the embassy, and till God taught him his duty in little ease he will not do it. When a miracle hath set him on his work, and succeeds it, he grows passionate, and will die; God spares and pardons him as well as Nineveh, (which yet falls to sin, and falls under the ruin foretold by Nahum,) and so leaves him a type of Christ's burial and resurrection, and an instance how far a good man may sometimes be from his duty and that great passions may be in a prophet.

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