Jonah 1:1
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
JONAH’S DISOBEDIENCE AND PUNISHMENT.

(1) Now . . .—More strictly, And; but the English quite adequately represents the Hebrew style of beginning a narrative, whether it formed a book by itself, or merely continued an historical account. (See the opening of Exodus, Leviticus, and other historical books; Ezekiel 1:1; and comp. 1Kings 17:1, &c.)

Jonah the son of Amittai.—See Introduction.

Jonah

GUILTY SILENCE AND ITS REWARD

Jonah 1:1 - Jonah 1:17
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Jonah was apparently an older contemporary of Hosea and Amos. The Assyrian power was looming threateningly on the northern horizon, and a flash or two had already broken from that cloud. No doubt terror had wrought hate and intenser narrowness. To correct these by teaching, by an instance drawn from Assyria itself, God’s care for the Gentiles and their susceptibility to His voice, was the purpose of Jonah’s mission. He is a prophet of Israel, because the lesson of his history was for them, though his message was for Nineveh. He first taught by example the truth which Jesus proclaimed in the synagogue of Nazareth, and Peter learned on the housetop at Joppa, and Paul took as his guiding star. A truth so unwelcome and remote from popular belief needed emphasis when first proclaimed; and this singular story, as it were, underlines it for the generation which heard it first. Its place would rather have been among the narratives than the prophets, except for this aspect of it. So regarded, Jonah becomes a kind of representative of Israel; and his history sets forth large lessons as to its function among the nations, its unwillingness to discharge it, the consequences of disobedience, and the means of return to a better mind.

Note then, first, the Prophet’s unwelcome charge. There seems no sufficient reason for doubting the historical reality of Jonah’s mission to Nineveh; for we know that intercourse was not infrequent, and the silence of other records is, in their fragmentary condition, nothing wonderful. But the fact that a prophet of Israel was sent to a heathen city, and that not to denounce destruction except as a means of winning to repentance, declared emphatically God’s care for the world, and rebuked the exclusiveness which claimed Him for Israel alone. The same spirit haunts the Christian Church, and we have all need to ponder the opposite truth, till our sympathies are widened to the width of God’s universal love, and we discern that we are bound to care for all men, since He does so.

Jonah sullenly resolved not to obey God’s voice. What a glimpse into the prophetic office that gives us! The divine Spirit could be resisted, and the Prophet was no mere machine, but a living man who had to consent with his devoted will to bear the burden of the Lord. One refused, and his refusal teaches us how superb and self-sacrificing was the faithfulness of the rest. So we have each to do in regard to God’s message intrusted to us. We must bow our wills, and sink our prejudices, and sacrifice our tastes, and say, ‘Here am I; send me.’

Jonah represents the national feelings which he shared. Why did he refuse to go to Nineveh? Not because he was afraid of his life, or thought the task hopeless. He refused because he feared success. God’s goodness was being stretched rather too far, if it was going to take in Nineveh. Jonah did not want it to escape. If he had been sent to destroy it, he would probably have gone gladly. He grudged that heathen should share Israel’s privileges, and probably thought that gain to Nineveh would be loss to Israel. It was exactly the spirit of the prodigal’s elder brother. There was also working in him the concern for his own reputation, which would be damaged if the threats he uttered turned out to be thunder without lightning, by reason of the repentance of Nineveh.

Israel was set among the nations, not as a dark lantern, but as the great lampstand in the Temple court proclaimed, to ray out light to all the world. Jonah’s mission was but a concrete instance of Israel’s charge. The nation was as reluctant to fulfil the reason of its existence as the Prophet was. Both begrudged sharing privileges with heathen dogs, both thought God’s care wasted, and neither had such feelings towards the rest of the world as to be willing to be messengers of forgiveness to them. All sorts of religious exclusiveness, contemptuous estimates of other nations, and that bastard patriotism which would keep national blessings for our own country alone, are condemned by this story. In it dawns the first faint light of that sun which shone at its full when Jesus healed the Canaanite’s daughter, or when He said, ‘Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold.’

Note, next, the fatal consequences of refusal to obey the God-given charge. We need not suppose that Jonah thought that he could actually get away from God’s presence. Possibly he believed in a special presence of God in the land of Israel, or, more probably, the phrase means to escape from service. At any rate, he determined to do his flight thoroughly. Tarshish was, to a Hebrew, at the other end of the world from Nineveh. The Jews were no sailors, and the choice of the sea as means of escape indicates the obstinacy of determination in Jonah.

The storm is described with a profusion of unusual words, all apparently technical terms, picked up on board, just as Luke, in the only other account of a storm in Scripture, has done. What a difference between the two voyages! In the one, the unfaithful prophet is the cause of disaster, and the only sluggard in the ship. In the other, the Apostle, who has hazarded his life to proclaim his Lord, is the source of hope, courage, vigour, and safety. Such are the consequences of silence and of brave speech for God. No wonder that the fugitive Prophet slunk down into some dark corner, and sat bitterly brooding there, self-accused and condemned, till weariness and the relief of the tension of his journey lulled him to sleep. It was a stupid and heavy sleep. Alas for those whose only refuge from conscience is oblivion!

Over against this picture of the insensible Prophet, all unaware of the storm {which may suggest the parallel insensibility of Israel to the impending divine judgments}, is set the behaviour of the heathen sailors, or ‘salts,’ as the story calls them. Their conduct is part of the lesson of the book; for, heathen as they are, they have yet a sense of dependence, and they pray; they are full of courage, battling with the storm, jettisoning the cargo, and doing everything possible to save the ship. Their treatment of Jonah is generous and chivalrous. Even when they hear his crime, and know that the storm is howling like a wild beast for him, they are unwilling to throw him overboard without one more effort; and when at last they do it, their prayer is for forgiveness, inasmuch as they are but carrying out the will of Jehovah. They are so much touched by the whole incident that they offer sacrifices to the God of the Hebrews, and are, in some sense, and possibly but for a time, worshippers of Him.

All this holds the mirror up to Israel, by showing how much of human kindness and generosity, and how much of susceptibility for the truth which Israel had to declare, lay in rude hearts beyond its pale. This crew of heathen of various nationalities and religions were yet men who could be kind to a renegade Prophet, peril their lives to save his, and worship Jehovah. ‘I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,’ is the same lesson in another form. We may find abundant opportunities for learning it; for the characters of godless men, and of some among the heathen, may well shame many a Christian.

Jonah’s conduct in the storm is no less noble than his former conduct had been base. The burst of the tempest blew away all the fog from his mind, and he saw the stars again. His confession of faith; his calm conviction that he was the cause of the storm; his quiet, unhesitating command to throw him into the wild chaos foaming about the ship; his willing acceptance of death as the wages of his sin, all tell how true a saint he was in the depth of his soul. Sorrow and chastisement turn up the subsoil. If a man has any good in him, it generally comes to the top when he is afflicted and looks death in the face. If there is nothing but gravel beneath, it too will be brought up by the plough. There may be much selfish unfaithfulness overlying a real devoted heart.

Jonah represented Israel here too, both in that the consequence of the national unfaithfulness and greedy, exclusive grasp of their privileges would lead to their being cast into the roaring waves of the sea of nations, amid the tumult of the peoples, and in that, for them as for him, the calamity would bring about a better mind, the confession of their faith, and acknowledgment of their sin. The history of Israel was typified in this history, and the lessons it teaches are lessons for all churches, and for all God’s children for all time. If we shirk our duty of witnessing for Him, or any other of His plain commands, unfaithfulness will be our ruin. The storm is sure to break where His Jonahs try to hide, and their only hope lies in bowing to the chastisement and consenting to be punished, and avowing whose they are and whom they serve. If we own Him while the storm whistles round us, the worst of it is past, and though we have to struggle amid its waves, He will take care of us, and anything is possible rather than that we should be lost in them.

The miracle of rescue is the last point. Jonah’s repentance saved his life. Tossed overboard impenitent he would have been drowned. So Israel was taught that the break-up of their national life would not be their destruction if they turned to the Lord in their calamity. The wider lesson of the means of making chastisement into blessing, and securing a way of escape-namely, by owning the justice of the stroke, and returning to duty-is meant for us all. He who sends the storm watches its effect on us, and will not let His repentant servants be utterly overwhelmed. That is a better use to make of the story than to discuss whether any kind of known Mediterranean fish could swallow a man. If we believe in miracles, the question need not trouble us. And miracle there must be, not only in the coincidence of the fish and the Prophet being in the same bit of sea at the same moment, but in his living for so long in his strange ‘ark of safety.’

The ever-present providence of God, the possible safety of the nation, even when in captivity, the preservation of every servant of God who turns to the Lord in his chastisement, the exhibition of penitence as the way of deliverance, are the purposes for which the miracle was wrought and told. Flippant sarcasms are cheap. A devout insight yields a worthy meaning. Jesus Christ employed this incident as a symbol of His Death and Resurrection. That use of it seems hard to reconcile with any view but that the story is true. But it does not seem necessary to suppose that our Lord regarded it as an intended type, or to seek to find in Jonah’s history further typical prophecy of Him. The salient point of comparison is simply the three days’ entombment; and it is rather an illustrative analogy than an intentional prophecy. The subsequent action of the Prophet in Nineveh, and the effect of it, were true types of the preaching of the Gospel by the risen Lord, through His servants, to the Gentiles, and of their hearing the Word. But it requires considerable violence in manipulation to force the bestowing of Jonah, for safety and escape from death, in the fish’s maw, into a proper prophecy of the transcendent fact of the Resurrection.Jonah 1:1-2. Now the word of the Lord — An impulse or revelation from the Lord, significative of his will; came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai — Of whom see 2 Kings 14:25. It is probable he had been before acquainted with the word of the Lord, and knew his voice from that of a stranger. Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city — The capital of the Assyrian empire: see notes on Jonah 3:3; Jonah 4:11; and Nahum 1:1; Nahum 3:18. And cry — Proclaim as a prophet, against it — Or concerning it. He must witness against their great wickedness, and warn them of the destruction that was coming upon them for it. And this he must do, not privately in corners, but publicly in the streets, and must cry aloud, that all might hear. For their wickedness is come up before me — Is manifest in my sight, and calls aloud for vengeance.1:1-3. It is sad to think how much sin is committed in great cities. Their wickedness, as that of Nineveh, is a bold and open affront to God. Jonah must go at once to Nineveh, and there, on the spot, cry against the wickedness of it. Jonah would not go. Probably there are few among us who would not have tried to decline such a mission. Providence seemed to give him an opportunity to escape; we may be out of the way of duty, and yet may meet with a favourable gale. The ready way is not always the right way. See what the best of men are, when God leaves them to themselves; and what need we have, when the word of the Lord comes to us, to have the Spirit of the Lord to bring every thought within us into obedience.Now the word of the Lord - , literally, "And, ..." This is the way in which the several inspired writers of the Old Testament mark that what it was given them to write was united onto those sacred books which God had given to others to write, and it formed with them one continuous whole. The word, "And," implies this. It would do so in any language, and it does so in Hebrew as much as in any other. As neither we, nor any other people, would, without any meaning, use the word, And, so neither did the Hebrews. It joins the four first books of Moses together; it carries on the history through Joshua, Judges, the Books of Samuel and of the Kings. After the captivity, Ezra and Nehemiah begin again where the histories before left off; the break of the captivity is bridged over; and Ezra, going back in mind to the history of God's people before the captivity, resumes the history, as if it had been of yesterday, "And in the first year of Cyrus." It joins in the story of the Book of Ruth before the captivity, and that of Esther afterward. At times, even prophets employ it, in using the narrative form of themselves, as Ezekiel, "and it was in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, and I was in the captivity by the river of Chebar, the heavens opened and I saw." If a prophet or historian wishes to detach his prophecy or his history, he does so; as Ezra probably began the Book of Chronicles anew from Adam, or as Daniel makes his prophecy a whole by itself. But then it is the more obvious that a Hebrew prophet or historian, when he does begin with the word, "And," has an object in so beginning; he uses an universal word of all languages in its uniform meaning in all language, to join things together.

And yet more precisely; this form, "and the word of the Lord came to - saying," occurs over and over again, stringing together the pearls of great price of God's revelations, and uniting this new revelation to all those which had preceded it. The word, "And," then joins on histories with histories, revelations with revelations, uniting in one the histories of God's works and words, and blending the books of Holy Scripture into one divine book.

But the form of words must have suggested to the Jews another thought, which is part of our thankfulness and of our being Acts 11:18, "then to the Gentiles also hath God given repentance unto life." The words are the self-same familiar words with which some fresh revelation of God's will to His people had so often been announced. Now they are prefixed to God's message to the pagan, and so as to join on that message to all the other messages to Israel. Would then God deal thenceforth with the pagan as with the Jews? Would they have their prophets? Would they be included in the one family of God? The mission of Jonah in itself was an earnest that they would, for God. Who does nothing fitfully or capriciously, in that He had begun, gave an earnest that He would carry on what He had begun. And so thereafter, the great prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, were prophets to the nations also; Daniel was a prophet among them, to them as well as to their captives.

But the mission of Jonah might, so far, have been something exceptional. The enrolling his book, as an integral part of the Scriptures, joining on that prophecy to the other prophecies to Israel, was an earnest that they were to be parts of one system. But then it would be significant also, that the records of God's prophecies to the Jews, all embodied the accounts of their impenitence. Here is inserted among them an account of God's revelation to the pagan, and their repentance. "So many prophets had been sent, so many miracles performed, so often had captivity been foreannounced to them for the multitude of their sins. and they never repented. Not for the reign of one king did they cease from the worship of the calves; not one of the kings of the ten tribes departed from the sins of Jeroboam? Elijah, sent in the Word and Spirit of the Lord, had done many miracles, yet obtained no abandonment of the calves. His miracles effected this only, that the people knew that Baal was no god, and cried out, "the Lord He is the God." Elisha his disciple followed him, who asked for a double portion of the Spirit of Elijah, that he might work more miracles, to bring back the people.

He died, and, after his death as before it, the worship of the calves continued in Israel. The Lord marveled and was weary of Israel, knowing that if He sent to the pagan they would bear, as he saith to Ezekiel. To make trial of this, Jonah was chosen, of whom it is recorded in the Book of Kings that he prophesied the restoration of the border of Israel. When then he begins by saying, "And the word of the Lord came to Jonah," prefixing the word "And," he refers us back to those former things, in this meaning. The children have not hearkened to what the Lord commanded, sending to them by His servants the prophets, but have hardened their necks and given themselves up to do evil before the Lord and provoke Him to anger; "and" therefore "the word of the Lord came to Jonah, saying, Arise and go to Nineveh that great city, and preach unto her," that so Israel may be shewn, in comparison with the pagan, to be the more guilty, when the Ninevites should repent, the children of Israel persevered in unrepentance."

Jonah the son of Amittai - Both names occur here only in the Old Testament, Jonah signifies "Dove," Amittai, "the truth of God." Some of the names of the Hebrew prophets so suit in with their times, that they must either have been given them propheticly, or assumed by themselves, as a sort of watchword, analogous to the prophetic names, given to the sons of Hosea and Isaiah. Such were the names of Elijah and Elisha, "The Lord is my God," "my God is salvation." Such too seems to be that of Jonah. The "dove" is everywhere the symbol of "mourning love." The side of his character which Jonah records is that of his defect, his want of trust in God, and so his unloving zeal against those, who were to be the instruments of God against his people. His name perhaps preserves that character by which he willed to be known among his people, one who moaned or mourned over them.

THE BOOK OF JONAH Commentary by A. R. Faussett

INTRODUCTION

Jonah was the son of Amittai, of Gath-hepher in Zebulun (called Gittah-hepher in Jos 19:10-13), so that he belonged to the kingdom of the ten tribes, not to Judah. His date is to be gathered from 2Ki 14:25-27, "He (Jeroboam II) 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. For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor 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." Now as this prophecy of Jonah was given at a time when Israel was at the lowest point of depression, when "there was not any shut up or left," that is, confined or left at large, none to act as a helper for Israel, it cannot have been given in Jeroboam's reign, which was marked by prosperity, for in it Syria was worsted in fulfilment of the prophecy, and Israel raised to its former "greatness." It must have been, therefore, in the early part of the reign of Joash, Jeroboam's father, who had found Israel in subjection to Syria, but had raised it by victories which were followed up so successfully by Jeroboam. Thus Jonah was the earliest of the prophets, and close upon Elisha, who died in Joash's reign, having just before his death given a token prophetical of the thrice defeat of Syria (2Ki 13:14-21). Hosea and Amos prophesied also in the reign of Jeroboam II, but towards the closing part of his forty-one years' reign. The transactions in the Book of Jonah probably occurred in the latter part of his life; if so, the book is not much older than part of the writings of Hosea and Amos. The use of the third person is no argument against Jonah himself being the writer: for the sacred writers in mentioning themselves do so in the third person (compare Joh 19:26). Nor is the use of the past tense (Jon 3:3, "Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city") a proof that Nineveh's greatness was past when the Book of Jonah was being written; it is simply used to carry on the negative uniformly,—"the word of the Lord came to Jonah … so Jonah arose … now Nineveh was," &c. (Jon 1:1; 3:3). The mention of its greatness proves rather that the book was written at an early date, before the Israelites had that intimate knowledge of it which they must have had soon afterwards through frequent Assyrian inroads.

As early as Julian and Porphyry, pagans ridiculed the credulity of Christians in believing the deliverance of Jonah by a fish. Some infidels have derived it from the heathen fable of the deliverance of Andromeda from a sea monster by Perseus [Apollodorus, The Library, 2.4,3]; or from that of Arion the musician thrown into the sea by sailors, and carried safe to shore on a dolphin [Herodotus, History, 1.24]; or from that of Hercules, who sprang into the jaws of a sea monster, and was three days in its belly, when he undertook to save Hesione [Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library, 4.42; Homer, The Iliad, 20.145; 21.442]. Probably the heathen fables are, vice versa, corruptions of the sacred narrative, if there be any connection. Jerome states that near Joppa lay rocks, pointed out as those to which Andromeda was bound when exposed to the sea monster. This fable implies the likelihood of the story of Jonah having passed through the Phœnicians in a corrupted form to Greece. That the account of Jonah is history, and not parable (as rationalists represent), appears from our Lord's reference to it, in which the personal existence, miraculous fate, and prophetical office of Jonah are explicitly asserted: "No sign shall be given but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for, 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" (Mt 12:39, 40). The Lord recognizes his being in the belly of the fish as a "sign," that is, a real miracle, typical of a similar event in His own history; and assumes the execution of the prophet's commission to Nineveh, "The men of Nineveh … repented at the preaching of Jonas; and behold, a greater than Jonas is here" (Mt 12:41).

It seemed strange to Kimchi, a Jew himself, that the Book of Jonah is among the Scriptures, as the only prophecy in it concerns Nineveh, a heathen city, and makes no mention of Israel, which is referred to by every other prophet. The reason seems to be: a tacit reproof of Israel is intended; a heathen people were ready to repent at the first preaching of the prophet, a stranger to them; but Israel, who boasted of being God's elect, repented not, though warned by their own prophets at all seasons. This was an anticipatory streak of light before the dawn of the full "light to lighten the Gentiles" (Lu 2:32). Jonah is himself a strange paradox: a prophet of God, and yet a runaway from God: a man drowned, and yet alive: a preacher of repentance, yet one that repines at repentance. Yet Jonah, saved from the jaws of death himself on repentance, was the fittest to give a hope to Nineveh, doomed though it was, of a merciful respite on its repentance. The patience and pity of God stand in striking contrast with the selfishness and hard-heartedness of man.

Nineveh in particular was chosen to teach Israel these lessons, on account of its being capital of the then world kingdom, and because it was now beginning to make its power felt by Israel. Our Lord (Mt 12:41) makes Nineveh's repentance a reproof of the Jews' impenitence in His day, just as Jonah provoked Israel to jealousy (De 32:21) by the same example. Jonah's mission to Nineveh implied that a heathen city afforded as legitimate a field for the prophet's labors as Israel, and with a more successful result (compare Am 9:7).

The book is prose narrative throughout, except the prayer of thanksgiving in the second chapter (Jon 2:1-9). The Chaldæisms in the original do not prove spuriousness, or a later age, but were natural in the language of one living in Zebulun on the borders of the north, whence Aramaic peculiarities would readily arise; moreover, his message to Nineveh implies acquaintance with Assyrian. Living as Jonah did in a part of Israel exposed to Assyrian invasions, he probably stood in the same relation to Assyria as Elijah and Elisha had stood to Syria. The purity of the language implies the antiquity of the book, and the likelihood of its being Jonah's own writing. Indeed, none but Jonah could have written or dictated such peculiar details, known only to himself.

The tradition that places the tomb of Jonah opposite to Mosul, and names it "Nebbi Junus" (that is, "prophet Jonah"), originated probably in the spot having been occupied by a Christian church or convent dedicated to him [Layard]. A more ancient tradition of Jerome's time placed the tomb in Jonah's native village of Gath-hepher.

CHAPTER 1

Jon 1:1-17. Jonah's Commission to Nineveh, Flight, Punishment, and Preservation by Miracle.

1. Jonah—meaning in Hebrew, "dove." Compare Ge 8:8, 9, where the dove in vain seeks rest after flying from Noah and the ark: so Jonah. Grotius not so well explains it, "one sprung from Greece" or Ionia, where there were prophets called Amythaonidæ.

Amittai—Hebrew for "truth," "truth-telling"; appropriate to a prophet.Jonah, sent by God to Nineveh, fleeth to Tarshish, Jon 1:1-3: he is overtaken by a tempest, and discovered, Jon 1:4-10, thrown into the sea, Jon 1:11-16, and swallowed by a fish, Jon 1:17.

Now, Heb. And.

The word of the Lord, which is a usual description of prophecy; what God had to speak against Nineveh, be here does reveal to Jonah, with command that he publish it to those concerned in it.

Came unto, to, or, was with,

Jonah; called Jonas, Luk 11:30, which signifieth a dove; he was of Gath-hepher, a town of Zebulun, 2Ki 14:25, but no more is added, by which I conjecture it was some obscure place, to which Jonah gave more light than it could to him.

Amittai; of what rank he was appears not.

Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai,.... Or, "and the word of the Lord was" (l); not that this is to be considered as connected with something the prophet had on his mind and in his thoughts when he began to write this book; or as a part detached from a prophecy not now extant; for it is no unusual thing with the Hebrews to begin books after this manner, especially historical ones, of which kind this chiefly is, as the books of Ruth, First and Second Samuel, and Esther; besides, the "vau", is here not copulative, but conversive; doing its office by changing the future tense into the past; which otherwise must have been rendered, "the word of the Lord shall be", or "shall come"; which would not only give another, but a wrong sense. "The word of the Lord" often signifies a prophecy from the Lord; and so the Targum, renders it,

"the word of prophecy from the Lord;''

and it may be so interpreted, since Jonah, under a spirit of prophecy, foretold that Nineveh should be destroyed within forty days; though the phrase here rather signifies the order and command of the Lord to the prophet to do as is expressed in Jonah 1:2; whose name was Jonah "the son of Amittai"; of whom see the introduction to this book. Who his father Amittai was is not known: if the rule of the Jews would hold good, that when a prophet mentions his own name, and the name of his father, he is a prophet, the son of a prophet, then Amittai was one; but this is not to be depended on. The Syriac version calls him the son of Mathai, or Matthew; though the Arabians have a notion that Mathai is his mother's name; and observe that none are called after their mothers but Jonas and Jesus Christ: but the right name is Amittai, and signifies "my truth"; and to be sons of truth is an agreeable character of the prophets and ministers of the word, who should be given to truth, possessed of it, and publish it:

saying; as follows:

(l) "et fuit", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; "factum fuit", Piscator.

Now the word of the LORD came {a} unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

The Argument - When Jonah had long prophesied in Israel and had little profited, God gave him specific charge to go and denounce his judgments against Nineveh, the chief city of the Assyrians, because he had appointed that those who were of the heathen, should convert by the mighty power of his word. And this was so that within three day's preaching, Israel might see how horribly they had provoked God's wrath, who for the space of so many years, had not converted to the Lord, for so many prophets and such diligent preaching. He prophesied under Jonah, and Jeroboam; 2Ki 14:25.

(a) After he had preached a long time in Israel: and so Ezekiel, after he had prophesied in Judah for a time, had visions in Babylon; Eze 1:1.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. Jonah 1:1-3. Jonah’s Disobedience

1. Now the word, &c.] Lit., “And the word,” &c. There is no reason to conclude from this that the Book of Jonah is only a fragment of a larger work. Many books of the Old Testament begin with “And.” In some cases (e. g. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, 2 Samuel) they do so, because the writer wishes to mark the fact that the book so commencing is a continuation, a second or third volume so to speak, of what he has written before. In other cases, as here and in Ezekiel 1:1, the author begins his work with the words, “And it was,” “And it came to pass,” because, though he may have written nothing before himself, yet there is a reference in his own mind to the national records that had gone before, and he consciously takes up the thread of past history. See Maurer on Ezekiel 1:1.Verse 1. - Now; or, and. Some have argued from this commencement that the Book of Jonah is a fragment, the continuation of a larger work; but it is a common formulary, linking together revelations and histories, and is continually used in the Old Testament at the beginning of independent works; e.g. Joshua 1:1; Judges 1:1; 1 Samuel 1:1; Esther 1:1; Ezekiel 1:1. Jonah the son of Amittai (2 Kings 14:25). (See Introduction, § II.) Judah. - Amos 2:4. "Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I shall not reverse it, because they have despised the law of Jehovah, and have not kept His ordinances, and their lies led them astray, after which their fathers walked, Amos 2:5. I send fire into Judah, and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem." With the announcement that the storm of the wrath of God will also burst upon Judah, Amos prepares the way for passing on to Israel, the principal object of his prophecies. In the case of Judah, he condemns its contempt of the law of its God, and also its idolatry. Toorh is the sum and substance of all the instructions and all the commandments which Jehovah had given to His people as the rule of life. Chuqqı̄m are the separate precepts contained in the thōrâh, including not only the ceremonial commands, but the moral commandments also; for the two clauses are not only parallel, but synonymous. כּזביהם, their lies, are their idols, as we may see from the relative clause, since "walking after" (bâlakh 'achărē) is the standing expression for idolatry. Amos calls the idols lies, not only as res quae fallunt (Ges.), but as fabrications and nonentities ('ĕlı̄hı̄m and hăbhâlı̄m), having no reality in themselves, and therefore quite unable to perform what was expected of them. The "fathers" who walked after these lies were their forefathers generally, since the nation of Israel practised idolatry even in the desert (cf. Amos 5:26), and was more or less addicted to it ever afterwards, with the sole exception of the times of Joshua, Samuel, David, and part of the reign of Solomon, so that even the most godly kings of Judah were unable to eradicate the worship upon the high places. The punishment threatened in consequence, namely, that Jerusalem should be reduced to ashes, was carried out by Nebuchadnezzar.
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