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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

- Jonah

by Editor - Joseph Exell


THE Book of Jonah is not a prophecy, but an account of the prophet's mission to Nineveh to announce its speedy destruction. It is concerned chiefly with Jonah's own personal feelings and history in relation to this mission. Possessed with the national hatred of idolatrous Gentiles, and fearing that God, in his great long suffering, might, after all, spare these Assyrians to whom he was sent, and that thus his prediction would be discredited and a heathen nation saved, he attempted to escape the unwelcome errand. Mingled with this apprehension there may have been a personal dread of ill treatment at the hands of the cruel and ferocious Assyrians, who would have little respect for an alien prophet, and would probably punish his pretensions with torture and death. But this consideration would have had small influence had his heart been right. He is bold enough when he comes to himself. He knew his duty, but at the present moment determined to avoid its fulfilment. Accordingly, he fled to Joppa and took ship for Tarshish. The providence of God followed him. A violent storm arose, and the crew of the vessel, surmising that it was sent by Heaven as a judgment, cast lots in order to discover who was the guilty person among them. Jonah, being thus designated, confesses the truth, and at his own earnest request is cast into the sea. He is, however, not drowned. A huge fish swallows him, and after three days vomits him forth, and he lands safely on the shore. He then humbly obeys the will of God, sets out, and executes his mission to Nineveh. The king of that city, having heard probably of his strange deliverance from the deep, and believing him to be a messenger from Heaven, ordered a general fast, and by timely repentance averted the threatened doom. Jonah, from national idiosyncrasies, grudging the mercy thus conceded to a heathen nation, showed his displeasure in a marked manner. A better lesson was taught him by a little incident. A gourd, under whose grateful shade he had sat the live-long day, withered away, and left him exposed to the burning Eastern sun; and he grieved bitterly over the gourd. Then God shows him how unreasonable he is in lamenting for this plant, in whose growth he had no hand, which rose in a night and perished in a night, and yet in being angry that he, the God of mercy, should have pity on this great city filled with half a million of souls.

Of the moral corruption of Nineveh, which was the occasion of the threatened punishment, other prophets speak. "Woe to the bloody city!" says Nahum (Nahum 3:1); "it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;" "Upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?" (Nahum 3:19). "This is the joyous city," cries Zephaniah (Zephaniah 2:15), "that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none else beside me." "The annals of Assyria," says Layard, quoted by Trochon, "are nothing but a register of military campaigns, spoliations, and cruelties. Their monuments display men of a calm and unmoved ferocity, whose moral and mental qualities are overborne by the faculties of the lower, brutal nature."

In the book before us we can trace three stages leading to the final lesson. The first is Jonah's conversion, with its various scenes, ending in his acquiescence in the Divine call and his second mission. Then follow the solemn annunciation to Nineveh, and the repentance of king and people. Lastly we have Jonah's displeasure at the non-accomplishment of the predicted overthrow, and the better lesson which God vouchsafes to teach him. These parts, and every portion of them, are replete with most important truths and types and figures. It is this didactic and symbolical character that has caused the book to be inserted among the prophets. In its history there is, indeed, concealed prophecy of the highest importance which our eyes are open to discern. To the Jew, perhaps, the chief lesson which it was meant to teach was the capacity of the Gentiles for salvation, and that God designed to make them partakers thereof. This was a truth hard to be learned. The Israelites had been often warned that the Gentiles were ordained to be the punishers of their disobedience and apostasy; hence they looked upon them as bitter enemies, incapable of salvation, and cherished all the prophecies concerning their final overthrow, overlooking or misinterpreting those that spoke of their conversion and entrance into the kingdom of God. The possibility of the admission of aliens to the privileges of Abraham's seed had now to be enforced. Other prophets enunciated this great truth in plain words or under dark sayings; Jonah acted it, expressed it in action. He was forced to show that it was his duty to sympathize with others who wished to turn to God; to help, not to impede, their efforts. He is made to exhibit the unreasonableness and impiety of a spirit like that of the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son, who is jealous of the mercy bestowed upon the returning penitent. In his great candour he places even the heathen sailors in the category of possible believers: they cry to the Lord, fear him, offer sacrifice, and make vows unto him. So, in this view, the history is levelled against the bigotry and exclusiveness of the Jews which come forward so prominently in later times. God has compassion on all men; "In every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:35).

Another object of the history is to teach the nature and efficacy of true repentance. Under this head we are presented with the examples of Jonah himself and the Ninevites. Not that the prophet takes any pains to explain his own conduct or to soften its asperities. He deals with facts and results. The storm, and the lot that points him out as the guilty person on board the ship, awaken in him a sense of his crime in fleeing from his appointed work; the wonderful deliverance vouchsafed rills him with gratitude and remorse, and makes him ready, when restored to his office, to execute the renewed mission as God commanded. The repentance of the people at the mere announcement of Jonah is used by Christ himself to accentuate the obstinate impenitence of the Jews under unusual privileges and advantages (Matthew 12:41). And to his own contemporaries the prophet, by this history, read a solemn, if silent, warning; he contrasts the submission of these Gentiles, who had so little light and knowledge, with the hardness and obstinacy of the Israelites, who had the Word of God and the light of his presence among them. It is as though he was using to them the words of Christ, "I tell you, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3), or enforcing the sad comparison that Isaiah (Isaiah 65:1, Isaiah 65:2) makes, "I have spread out my hands all the day long unto a rebellious people;" and "I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not." But there is another object in this history. It is a type and prophecy of the resurrection of Christ and the issues of that momentous fact. On this feature the Saviour himself shed clear light. "As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40). The Jews themselves taught from this history the resurrection of the body. We can see, however, much more in it. Not merely the resurrection of the flesh, nor merely the resurrection of Christ, are here adumbrated; the Divine plan of salvation is unfolded, as expressed in the words of St. Paul before Festus (Acts 26:23), "That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles." It was not till Jonah had, as it were, died and risen again that he preached repentance to the Ninevites. So Christ had said, "Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit" (John 12:24); "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself" (John 12:32). Thus after his resurrection Christ went forth in his Church to make disciples of all nations, and to embrace both Jew and Gentile in the kingdom of God. The mission of Jonah has its place in the gradual development of this design; it gives a sketch of that picture which was one day to be filled up to perfection. By it, on the one hand, the Gentile learned something of the attributes of the true God — his omnipotence, justice, and mercy; and, on the other, the Jew was taught tolerance and charity, and the rigid spirit of pride and exclusiveness received a plain rebuke.

Some critics consider the book to have been written with an apologetic purpose, to show a correct view of the functions of the prophet and the characteristics of prophecy. Many prophecies had remained unfulfilled; many had received a very partial and indefinite fulfilment. Jonah's history emphasizes the truth that all such pre-announcements are conditional, and their issues are liable to be modified and altered by circumstances, and that such variations detract nothing from the Divine nature of the prediction.
It remains to mention another view of the mission of Jonah which considers it to have been of a political rather than a religious character. According to this supposition, Jonah was sent to Nineveh to warn the king against attacking or interfering with Israel. The Assyrians at this time had made frequent inroads upon Syria, and it was probable that they would ere long turn their arms against Samaria. God's forbearance with his rebellious people had been markedly exhibited; lately he had given assurance that "he would not blot out their name from under heaven" (2 Kings 13:23), and now he sends a prophet to urge Assyria to desist from its mediated enterprise against Israel. In support of this notion it is argued that the crime of which Nineveh repented could not have been idolatry; for this certainly was not abandoned on account of the preaching of Jonah; and there is no evidence whatever of any religious reformation at this period. The only effect that is admissible is the relinquishment of a design which the king had learned was displeasing to a Divinity whom he saw reason to reverence. But all this is pure assumption. There is not a trace of any political bearing in the whole transaction. Jonah is bidden (Jonah 1:2) to "go and cry against Nineveh; for their wickedness is come up" unto the Lord. And when at length he executes his mission, his only word is, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown" (Jonah 3:4). What need was there of fasting and sackcloth, if the only change desired was the abandonment of a certain military expedition? How could this people be held up as an example of repentance, if they only altered the direction of their arms at the prophet's request? No doubt the lust of conquest, and the cruelty, spoliation, and injustice to which it gave occasion were some of the sins which called for vengeance; but we have no ground for narrowing Jonah's mission to a prohibition of a threatened attack on Israel. The vices of a great and luxurious city, drank with conquest and exulting in its material strength, were flagrant enough to draw down the vengeance of Heaven; and the providence of God is grandly displayed in offering a hope of repentance to this great people by the word of a prophet from his own chosen nation.

§ 2. AUTHOR.

There is no good reason to doubt that the hero, if not the author, of this book was that Jonah, son of Amittai, the prophet whose comforting prophecy was recounted in the days of Jeroboam the Second (2 Kings 14:25). The names of Jonah and Amittai occur nowhere else in the Old Testament, and it is incredible that there should have been two distinct persons named Jonah, both prophets, both sons of Amittai. Jonah means "a Dove;" Amittai, "True." Jerome, in his commentary, interprets Jonah to mean "Grieving;" but the former explanation is correct. From the signification of Amittai arose the very improbable opinion that our prophet was the son of the widow of Sarepta, whom Elijah raised to life, because she said, on receiving him restored at the prophet's hands, "Now I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth (emeth)" (1 Kings 17:24). Other suggestions, equally unfounded, are that he was the boy who attended Elijah to the wilderness, or the young man who was sent to anoint Jehu, or the husband of the Shunammite woman who extended hospitality to Elisha. Of the facts of Jonah's life nothing is known but what his own book supplies. The notice in Kings adds the only other piece of information about him which we possess, viz. that he was born at Gath-hepher, a place in Zebulun, about three miles northeast of Nazareth, separated by a wady from the traditional Cana of Galilee. It is identified with the modern village of Meshed, and the monument of Neby Yunas, the Prophet Jonah, is still shown there. Another tradition places his tomb at Nineveh, but there is no ground for supposing that, after his mission was accomplished, he stayed on and died there.

As to the actual writer of the book, a grave controversy exists. Most modern critics of the advanced school unhesitatingly deny the traditional view, which regards the prophet as the author, though their arguments are not thoroughly convincing. For instance, doubts have been thrown on the genuineness of the book because it is written throughout in the third person. But there is nothing unusual in this. Classical scholars will recall the 'Anabasis' of Xenophon and the 'Commentaries' of Caesar, concerning whose genuineness no question has ever been raised, though they are written in the third person. The same may be said of Thucydides, and Josephus, and Frederick the Great, as Hengstenberg has pointed out ('Auth. de Pent.,' 2:107, etc.). We have many instances of the kind close at hand. Amos, in the midst of his prophecy, inserts the historical interlude concerning his persecution at the hands of Amaziah, in the third person (Amos 7:12, etc.). There are many passages in other prophets where the same use may be noticed; e.g. Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 20:2, Isaiah 20:3; Jeremiah 20:1, Jeremiah 20:3; Jeremiah 26:7, etc.; Daniel 1-7.; Haggai 1:1, Haggai 1:3, Haggai 1:12; Haggai 2:1, Haggai 2:10, Haggai 2:20. Besides this, the candour of the history shows it to have been written by the person whose story it relates. It is true that the book does not profess to have been written by Jonah himself; but surely a Jewish writer, imbued with the national respect for the prophetical character, would never have allowed himself to exhibit a seer in such an unfavourable light. The bigotry, selfishness, petulance, and disobedience, which are so plainly attributed to Jonah, could have been set forth by no one but by himself. His weaknesses and errors are allowed to remain unexplained and unsoftened; the writer makes no attempt to put a favourable construction upon his failings; he leaves the prophet lying under God's reproof. Surely no one but himself would have done this; no one but himself could have shown this unique impartiality, this holy indifference to men's praise or blame. The calm, dispassionate narrative betrays one who is telling the story of his own actions, accurately and humbly, in order to teach a great lesson. The personality is wholly absorbed in this design. He writes for the instruction of others. He records his own weaknesses and prejudices as a warning to other prophets who should be placed in like circumstances. If we can get over other difficulties connected with language, history, etc., we shall not be unreasonable in regarding Jonah as responsible for the narrative, though it may have been modified by a subsequent editor. We may thus regard the story as being the confession of his repentance, the token that he sincerely grieved for his fault, and desired to make amends by exhibiting it in its full heinousness with its punishment and consequences.

We gather the character of Jonah from his own words and actions. He is narrow-minded and prejudiced; a bigoted patriot, incapable of taking a comprehensive view of his unexampled mission. He thinks more of himself and his own reputation than of the moral good of those to whom he is sent; he would rather let the heathen perish than see them repent and spared, and so bring discredit upon his prediction. So that his prophecy held good, he cared nothing for the fate of the Ninevites; compared with the maintenance of the veracity of the prophetical utterance, the overthrow of a heathen city was of small account. Instead of at once obeying, he reasons and looks to consequences. With the utmost trust in God's mercy and loving kindness, he is not satisfied with blindly following the Divine leading, but must interpose his own self-willed action, as though he had more zeal for God's honour than God himself had. It is not, perhaps, fear for his own safety that holds him back. He is bold enough to be willing to incur death as an atonement for his fault. But in his eager desire to uphold the honour of God, he shrinks from a task which may give occasion for the heathen to exult over a God who threatens but does not strike. Yet, with all his faults, his narrow insularity, his rash impetuosity, his hasty auger, Jonah's is a grand character, and may be compared with that of St. Peter, which in many respects it greatly resembles. His faults were those of his era and his country; his virtues were such as God loves in every age, such as we Christians do well to learn and to emulate. We may grieve for his self-will and capriciousness and bigotry; we may strive to imitate his truth and honesty, his courage and zeal.

§ 3. DATE.

The date of the historical Prophet Jonah is determined chiefly by internal evidence. We have seen that he is the prophet whose message is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25. Speaking of Jeroboam II., the historian says, "He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher." Of this "word" we have no further knowledge; but it seems to have been uttered or remembered at a time of great national distress; for the account proceeds (vers. 26, 27), "For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor left at large, nor was there any helper for Israel. And the Lord said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash." Whether the affliction named belongs to Jeroboam's time or to a period antecedent, it is plain that Jonah prophesied either in the very early part of that king's reign or before his accession. The date of Jeroboam's reign, as now corrected by Assyrian chronology, is B.C. 799-759, or, as others say, B.C. 790-749; and he seems to have won his great victories over the Syrians soon after he came to the throne, when that people were weakened by the constant attacks of the Assyrians. The state of things depicted in ver. 26 of the above-cited chapter is found to have existed in the time of Jehoahaz, when the King of Syria oppressed the Israelites: "Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the King of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing" (2 Kings 13:4, 2 Kings 13:7). Such a crisis called for an assurance of God's protection; and it may well be believed that the prophecy of Jonah was then uttered to comfort the despairing people in their dire necessity. It is thus parallel to the celebrated prediction of Elisha, when, in his last sickness, he sent for Joash, the father of Jeroboam, and gave him promise of three victories over the Syrians (2 Kings 13:14-19). Probably after Elisha's death Jonah came into greater prominence as a prophet of the Lord, and his words were treasured up and remembered. From these considerations we are warranted in setting his date at B.C. 800 or a little earlier, among the first of the minor prophets, somewhat senior to Amos and Hosea.

As to the time of his arrival in Nineveh, nothing can be exactly settled. The Assyrian annals record no event which throws light on the matter. From B.C. 810 to 781 the throne was occupied by Vul-nirari, or Iva-lush, or Rimmon-nirari, as his name is variously read by different interpreters. This monarch made various military expeditions, which he recounts in his annals. Among them he mentions the conquest of the land of the Hittites, Phoenicia, the cities of Tyre and Sidon, the land of Omri, the kingdom of Israel, Edom, and the Philistines. These probably merely acknowledged his superiority by the payment of an annual tribute. His successor, Shalmaneser III., had great difficulty in maintaining his position against the rising power of Armenia, though he found time for one attack on Syria. The following period, during the reigns of Asshur-danil and Asshur-nirari, or Asshur-lush, up to B.C. 750, was one of internal commotion and distress, and allowed no leisure for foreign conquest. It is very probable that Jonah's mission was executed towards the close of Jeroboam's reign, when the Assyrian monarchy was weakened by revolt, and the country was suffering from plague and famine. Both king and people were thus more disposed to listen to the warning of a man of God, and to endeavour to avert imminent ruin by timely, though superficial, repentance. Possibly, too, the preaching of Jonah may have synchronized with the famous eclipse which happened on June 15, B.C. 763, as mentioned in the Assyrian records, and which was regarded as a very evil omen.

Some critics, who cannot away with the miraculous portion of this book, have endeavoured to throw discredit upon it by assigning to it a date later than Jonah's time, some giving it a post-exilic origin, others assigning it to the Maccabean age. They seek for proof of this assertion in the language employed, and in the use made of the Psalms in Jonah's prayer. The complete refutation of this hypothesis may be seen in Keil's and Dr. Pusey's commentaries. We here need only say that the so called late Aramaisms cannot be proved to he unknown to the earlier Hebrew, and the only non-Hebraic word, taam, is a Syriac expression which Jonah heard at Nineveh in the sense of "decree," and introduced into his own narrative. The phrases in the prayer (Jonah 2:0.), which are also found in the Psalms, are either taken from those written by David and his contemporaries, which, of course, were well known long before Jonah's day, or (in the case of the two in ver. 7 and ver. 2) may have been borrowed by the authors of the Psalms from Jonah. And as to the statement in Jonah 3:3, that "Nineveh was an exceeding great city," from which Kuenen deduces the inference that the book was written after its destruction, we need only remark that the observation is introduced parenthetically, to explain the reason for the time that the prophet took in traversing it, and that it merely asserts that, at the period of Jonah's visit, Nineveh was of large extent. Such criticisms have no weight, and, as Dr. Pusey says, perhaps somewhat too harshly, "are founded, not on the study of the language, but on unbelief."


The Book of Jonah is a history, not a prophecy; it is inserted among the prophets, partly Because its author bears this title (2 Kings 14:25), but chiefly because of its didactic and symbolical purpose. But in it there is no moralizing, no reflection; it is simple narrative, verging here and there into poetry, as in the prayer from the fish's belly, and where the subject suits such variation. The tale is told graphically, and has quite a dramatic interest, advancing in regular stages to the conclusion, and leaving an impression upon the mind as though its various scenes had been enacted before the eyes of the reader. There is not a word too much; all that is essential to the understanding of the transaction is said, and nothing more. There is no trace of additions, interpolations, various authorities. The prayer (ch. 2.) bears the stamp of genuineness, being not a cry of repentance or a petition for preservation, which a forger or romancer would have introduced, but a thanksgiving, an expression of hope and trust, which alone suits the prophet's character (Schegg). There is a wonderful simplicity in the narrative, though it deals largely with the supernatural. The miracles of the fish and "the gourd" are introduced naturally. Such interpositions of God need no explanation in Jonah's view; they are the not unusual workings of Providence, such as he had heard of in the case of Elijah, such as happened often to the great Prophet Elisha. All is unforced, uniform, plain; vivid, indeed, and picturesque, but without effort, and effective rather from its truth, reality, and naturalness, than from elevation of language or rhetorical artifice.

The miraculous element in the book has led many critics to doubt its historical character, and to consider it as romance, allegory, or parable. The miracles, they say, are so prodigious, so wanting in sufficient motive, as to be utterly incredible, and to prove that the writer manifestly intends his work to be regarded as a fiction with a didactic purpose, like some of those writings which are preserved in our Apocrypha. Others see in it only a dream; others, again, regard it as a Jewish adaptation of a Greek or Babylonian myth; others explain away the supernatural portion of the story, as e.g. that Jonah was saved by a vessel which was called, or bore as its emblem, a sea monster. Against all these suggestions we must place the fact that the work comes before us as history; and we need very strong arguments to dislodge us from this position. Such, however, are not produced; and we should have heard nothing of them were it not for the unbelief in the supernatural which underlies all such criticism, or a tendency to reject, prima facie, all narratives which do not meet the standard of evidence which modern critics set up and worship. Of course, there is in itself nothing repugnant to reverence in considering the book as an inspired allegory intended to set forth certain great spiritual tenths, as, for instance, the temporary death of the Jewish nation and its resurrection anew to a national existence; but does the work confirm such view? We think not.

In the first place, it is plain that the Jews themselves regarded the book as historical. Tobit (14:4-6, 15) bases his advice to his son upon the certainty of the fulfilment of Jonah's prediction. Josephus ('Ant.,' 9:10, 1, 2) recounts the story as containing all that is known of the Prophet Jonah. The details are quite in keeping with the localities and the date of the narrative. This will appear in the course of the Exposition. The mention of the size of Nineveh and the extent of its population is proved by recent investigations to be perfectly correct. Could our blessed Lord have referred to Jonah's incarceration in the fish's belly as a sign of his own three-days' sojourn in the grave, had the story been an allegory and nothing more? Could he further have used the comparison of the Ninevites' conduct with that of the men of his own time, had the former been an imaginary people existing, for the nonce, only in fiction? Critics may say that Christ was speaking uncritically and merely using an illustration from a well known allegory (comp. Ladd, 'Doctrine of Scripture,' 1:67, etc.), but they forget the full bearing of this reference. As Perowne puts it forcibly, "The future Judge is speaking words of solemn warning to those who shall hereafter stand convicted at his bar. Intensely real he would make the scene in anticipation to them, as it was real, if then present, to himself. And yet we are to suppose him to say that.., the fictitious characters of a parable shall be arraigned at the same bar with the living men of that generation."
Again, if the book is a parable, why is the didactic purpose not presented more prominently and directly? If an allegory, can any example be produced of a sacred canonical writer using prodigious miracles as the vehicle of his teaching? In a narrative of facts the psalm (ch. 2.) is introduced naturally; it is given as composed by Jonah under the circumstances related. In an allegory it is quite out of place, marring the unity of the work, and intruding an element which does not harmonize with the other parts. And if a person had to be selected on whom to hang this fictitious narrative, is it conceivable that the Jewish author should have fixed on an eminent and well known prophet to represent in so unfavourable a light? Would he have been so wanting in common reverence as to affix to a celebrated man of God these traits of disobedience, waywardness, folly, narrowness, and peevishness? Plainly, the only way to account for the prophet being represented in this light is to consider that he acted in the way mentioned, and that the book is the plain narrative of his conduct, whether in its present form written wholly by himself, or partly by some later editor from his record.
Lastly, the miraculous portion of the story is not dragged in unnecessarily, and is not unparalleled by other transactions in Holy Scripture. Jonah's mission was unusual and most important; both the prophet himself and those with whom he was brought into contact needed to be convinced that God's providence was ordering all things, and that the powers of nature and the destinies of men were at his absolute disposal. The storm, the fish, the repentance, the gourd, are parts of this Divine lesson; and where God interferes there must needs be the supernatural. We must doubt the miraculous element in the histories of Elijah and Elisha, if we dispute the reality of the wonders in the biography of Jonah.
That was an age of miracles. God was manifesting his power against idolatry, and showing himself as the Guide and Support of his servants. Some prophets proclaimed him by word, some by action. Among the latter Jonah takes his natural place. Assyria had a great future before it. It is not improbable that on its repentance at the preaching of Jonah depended its continued existence and its subsequent pre-eminence. It was ordained that the Semitic people of Assyria should prevail over the children of Ham in Egypt. This would not have been the case had Nineveh's fall not been postponed for a time. Though Jonah saw not the full bearing of his mission, and, regarding it in a narrow, prejudiced spirit, tried to avoid its execution, really it was a factor in the world's history, and momentous issues hung thereon. Hence arose the extraordinary exhibition of supernatural agencies. As in the era of Moses and Elijah, and in the early days of Christianity, a great crisis demanded a baring of the Almighty's arm and evident tokens of his interference in the affairs of men.


The Book of Jonah has been published in Chaldee, Syriac, AEthiopic, and Arabic, with glossaries by Professor W. Wright. Among commentaries on the book may be mentioned those of Ephraem Syrus; Basil; Theophylact; Calvin, 'Lectures;' J. Brentius; Luther; J. Ferus; Dereser; Kaulen, 'Lib. Jonae Proph.'; Bishop Hooper, 'Sermons;' Archbishop Abbott, 'An Exposition'; Gerhard, 'Annotationes'; Pfeifler, 'Praelectiones'; Leusden, with the commentaries of Jarchi, Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, and Jophi; Von der Hardt, 'AEnigmata Prisci Orbis;' Helmstad; Grimm, 'Der Proph. Jon. ubersetzt'; H. Martin; W. Drake, 'Notes;' Redford, 'Studies'; Kleinert; Archdeacon Perowne, in 'The Cambridge Bible for Schools.'


The four chapters into which the book is divided make four natural divisions of the whole work.

Part I. (Jonah 1:0.) The mission of Jonah. His disobedience and punishment.

§ 1. (Jonah 1:1-3.) Jonah is sent to Nineveh; he tries to avoid the mission, and takes ship to Tarshish.

§ 2. (Jonah 1:4-10.) A great storm arises, which the crew discover to have been sent on account of Jonah's sin.

§ 3. (Jonah 1:11-16.) At his own request, Jonah is cast into the sea, which immediately becomes calm.

§ 4. (Jonah 1:17.) He is swallowed alive by a great fish, and remains in its belly three days and three nights.

Part II. (Jonah 2:0.) Jonah's prayer and deliverance.

§ 1. (Jonah 2:1-9.) Jonah, in the belly of the fish, offers a prayer of thanksgiving for his rescue from death by drowning, in which he sees a pledge of further deliverance.

§ 2. (Jonah 2:10.) The fish casts him up on the shore.

Part III. (Jonah 3:0.) Jonah's preaching in Nineveh; the repentance of the Ninevites.

§ 1. (Jonah 3:1-8.) Sent again to Nineveh, Jonah obeys the command.

§ 2. (Jonah 3:4.) He delivers his message.

§ 3. (Jonah 3:5-9.) The Ninevites believe God and repent.

§ 4. (Jonah 3:10.) The threatened destruction is averted.

Part IV. (Jonah 4:0.) Jonah's displeasure, and its correction.

§ 1. (Jonah 4:1-4.) Jonah is grieved at this result, and complains of God's clemency.

§ 2. (Jonah 4:5.) He makes a hut outside the city, and waits to see the issue.

§ 3. (Jonah 4:6, Jonah 4:7.) God causes a plant to spring up in order to shade him from the sun; but it soon withers away, and leaves him exposed to the scorching rays.

§ 4. (Jonah 4:8-11.) His grief for the loss of the plant is made the occasion by God of showing his inconsistency and pitilessness in murmuring against God's compassion for Nineveh with its multitude of inhabitants.

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