Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Jonah-Chapter 4

Jonah 4.1-11 tells us about Jonah’s anger at the repentance of the Ninevites and the manifestation of God’s “racham” or mercy.

v 1…But it greatly displeased (“ra’ah” or irritated; “evil” for him) Jonah and be became angry.

v 2…And he prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said (thought to himself) while I was still in my own country (Judea, Galilee or Gath-hepher, that they would repent and you would forgive? That’s why he did not want to go in the first place)? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish (he is justifying his actions now as to why he fled-this is a far cry from his prayer in the stomach of the great fish) for I knew that thou art a gracious (chanan) and compassionate (racham) God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness (chesed), and one who relents concerning calamity (which he himself experienced first hand).

v 3…Therefore now, O Lord, please take away my life from me, for death is better to me than life (he looked like a false prophet but he really wasn’t because his message was conditional and even the king understood it as such in Jonah 3.9).”

v 4…And the Lord said, “Do you have a good reason to be angry (there are times it is right to be angry, as with Moses in Exo 32.19; but there are other times when it is not, as with James and John in Luke 9.55 for instance)?”

v 5…Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter (sukkah) for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city (convinced that Ninevah was going to be spared, he goes out thinking something is going to happen anyway because the sins of Ninevah were great).

v 6…So the Lord (Yehovah) God (Elohay) appointed (prepared) a plant (like the great fish) and it grew up (rapidly) over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort (to heal him of his anger). And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant (seeing it as a sign that he should wait for the destruction of Ninevah).

v 7…But God (Elohim-the power behind this) prepared a worm (tola) when dawn came the next day (to teach Jonah another lesson), and it attacked the plant and it withered (the same hand that gives mercy can also take it away, and very suddenly, in a matter of hours).

v 8…And it came about when the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint (heat exhaustion) and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life” (everything was making his life unpleasant).

v 9…Then God (Elohim was the power behind all this) said to Jonah, “Do you have a good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death (now Yehovah is going to drive the lesson home).”

v 10…Then the Lord (Yehovah) said, “You had compassion on the plant, for which you did not work (toil), and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight (it sprang up one night, continued the next day, and then withered the next night).

v 11…And I should not have compassion on Ninevah (should I, in response to their repentance, not show pity on a people who I have worked, caused to grow, and play a role in my plans), the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between right and left hand, as well as many animals (filled with children and simple-minded adults and animals who are innocent and deserve compassion; Jonah had more compassion for a plant than a whole city; Yehovah had to awaken within him the contrast so he could see it for what it was; since no answer is given by Jonah, we can assume Jonah was convicted of his sin and wrote about his shortcomings and weaknesses for us to learn from)?”

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Festivals of the Lord, The Tanak, Tying into the New Testament

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