|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-9 Observe when Jonah prayed. When he was in trouble, under the tokens of God's displeasure against him for sin: when we are in affliction we must pray. Being kept alive by miracle, he prayed. A sense of God's good-will to us, notwithstanding our offences, opens the lips in prayer, which were closed with the dread of wrath. Also, where he prayed; in the belly of the fish. No place is amiss for prayer. Men may shut us from communion with one another, but not from communion with God. To whom he prayed; to the Lord his God. This encourages even backsliders to return. What his prayer was. This seems to relate his experience and reflections, then and afterwards, rather than to be the form or substance of his prayer. Jonah reflects on the earnestness of his prayer, and God's readiness to hear and answer. If we would get good by our troubles, we must notice the hand of God in them. He had wickedly fled from the presence of the Lord, who might justly take his Holy Spirit from him, never to visit him more. Those only are miserable, whom God will no longer own and favour. But though he was perplexed, yet not in despair. Jonah reflects on the favour of God to him, when he sought to God, and trusted in him in his distress. He warns others, and tells them to keep close to God. Those who forsake their own duty, forsake their own mercy; those who run away from the work of their place and day, run away from the comfort of it. As far as a believer copies those who observe lying vanities, he forsakes his own mercy, and lives below his privileges. But Jonah's experience encourages others, in all ages, to trust in God, as the God of salvation.
Verses 5, 6. - In parallel clauses, Jonah describes still more vividly the horrors that surrounded him. Verse 5. - Compassed me about. Not the same word as in ver. 3. Septuagint, περιεχίθη μοι "was poured around me." Even to the soul; so as to reach his life (comp. Psalm 18:5; Psalm 69:1, 2; Lamentations 3:54). The depth closed me round about. The verb is the lame as in ver. 3, translated there, "compassed me about" Vulgate, abyssus vallavit me. The weeds (suph); seaweed. Jonah sank to the bottom before he was swallowed by the fish. The LXX. omits the word. The Vulgate gives pelagus, which is probably derived from the fact of the Red Sea being called "the Sea of Suph," the term being thence applied to any sea.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The waters compassed me about, even to the soul,.... Either when he was first cast into the sea, which almost suffocated him, and just ready to take away his life, could not breathe for them, as is the case of a man drowning; or these were the waters the fish drew into its belly, in such large quantities, that they compassed him about, even to the endangering of his life there. So the Targum,
"the waters surrounded me unto death.''
In this Jonah was a type of Christ in his afflictions and sorrows, which were so many and heavy, that he is said to be "exceeding sorrowful", or surrounded with sorrow, "even unto death", Matthew 26:38; see also Psalm 69:1;
the depth closed me round about; the great deep, the waters of the sea, both when he fell into it, and while in the belly of the fish: thus also Christ his antitype came into deep waters, where there was no standing, and where floods of sin, and of ungodly men, and of divine wrath, overflowed him; see Psalm 18:4;
the weeds were wrapped about my head; the sea weeds, of which there are great quantities in it, which grow at the bottom of it, to which Jonah came, and from whence he rose up again, before swallowed by the fish; or these weeds were drawn into the belly of the fish, along with the water which it took in, and were wrapped about the head of the prophet as he lay there; or the fish went down with him into the bottom of the sea, and lay among those weeds; and so they may be said to be wrapped about him, he being there, as follows. The Targum is,
"the sea of Suph being over my head;''
the same with the Red sea, which is so called, Psalm 106:9; and elsewhere, and that from the weeds that were in it; and R. Japhet, as Aben Ezra observes, says the sea of Suph is mixed with the sea of Joppa; that is, as a learned man (e) observes, by means of the river Rhinocorura, through which the lake of Sirbon mingles with the great sea; and which lake itself is so called from the weeds in it; yea, was anciently called Suph, and the sea of Suph, or "mare Scirpeum", hence Sirbon: and the same writer thinks that the father of Andromede, said to be devoured by a whale about Joppa, had his name of Cepheus from hence.
(e) Texelius, Phoenix, l. 3. c. 6. p. 242, 243, 244, 228, 229.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. even to the soul—that is, threatening to extinguish the animal life.
weeds—He felt as if the seaweeds through which he was dragged were wrapped about his head.
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