He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath to the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spoke by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He restored.—Rather, He it was who restored the border, i.e., he wrested out of the hands of the Syrians the territory they had taken from Israel.
From the entering of Hamath—i.e., from the point where the territory of Hamath began. This was the originally determined boundary of Israel on the north (comp. Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5), and the prophet Ezekiel specifies it as the future limit (Ezekiel 47:16; Ezekiel 48:1). Israel’s territory first reached this limit under Solomon, who conquered a portion of the Hamathite domains (2Chronicles 8:3-4).
The sea of the plain—i.e., the Dead Sea (Numbers 3:17; Numbers 4:49; Joshua 3:16). The whole length of the Dead Sea is included (comp. Amos 6:14, where virtually the same limits are specified), and the country beyond Jordan. (Comp. Note on 1Chronicles 5:17.)
Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet.—Comp. Jonah 1:1. Ewald remarks that the activity of this prophet must have occupied a very large field, as tradition connects him with Nineveh. Hitzig and Knobel recognise the prophecy referred to here in Isaiah 15, 16. There is no difficulty in the supposition that Isaiah has “adopted and ratified the work of an earlier prophet,” as Jeremiah has so often done. (See Cheyne’s Isaiah, vol. i., p. 93.) But it is easier to prove that these chapters are not Isaiah’s, than that they belong to Jonah.
Gath-hepher.—Joshua 19:13. The present Meshed, Not far north of Nazareth.2 Kings 14:25. He restored the coast, &c., from Hamath — Which was the northern border of the kingdom of Israel; unto the sea of the plain — The Dead sea, which was once a goodly plain, and was their southern border. Which he spake by his servant Jonah — Or Jonas; one of the lesser prophets. The only mention that we have of this prophet is in this passage, and in the account of his famous mission to Nineveh, in considering which we shall say more concerning him. What the prophecies were by which he encouraged Jeroboam to proclaim war against the king of Syria, is nowhere recorded. But as we have not every thing which the prophets did write, so several prophets did not commit any of their predictions to writing. From this place, however, we learn, that God was so gracious to the Israelites, wicked as they were, as to continue a race of prophets among them, even after Elijah and Elisha were dead. See Patrick and Dodd. Happy that land which is thus favoured! which has a succession of prophets running parallel with a succession of princes; that the word of the Lord may endure for ever!2 Kings 10:33; 2 Kings 13:3, 2 Kings 13:25. All this was now recovered: and not only so, but Moab was reduced Amos 6:14, and the Syrians were in their turn forced to submit to the Jews 2 Kings 14:28. The northern conquests were perhaps little less important than the eastern 2 Kings 14:28.
The word of the Lord ... which he spake - Some have found the prophecy of Jonah here alluded to, or a portion of it, in Isaiah 15:1-9; Isaiah 16:1-14 (see 2 Kings 16:13); but without sufficient grounds.
This passage tends to fix Jonah's date to some period not very late in the reign of Jeroboam II, i. e. (according to the ordinary chronology) from 823 B.C. to 782 B.C. On Gath-hepher, see the marginal reference and note.
23. Jeroboam, the son of Joash king of Israel—This was Jeroboam II who, on regaining the lost territory, raised the kingdom to great political power (2Ki 14:25), but adhered to the favorite religious policy of the Israelitish sovereigns (2Ki 14:24). While God granted him so great a measure of national prosperity and eminence, the reason is expressly stated (2Ki 14:26, 27) to be that the purposes of the divine covenant forbade as yet the overthrow of the kingdom of the ten tribes (see 2Ki 13:23).The entering of Hamath was the northern border of the kingdom of Israel, Numbers 13:21 34:8.
Unto the sea of the plain, i.e. unto the Dead Sea, which once was a goodly plain, Genesis 13:10, which was their southern border.
Jonah, or Jonas, one of the small prophets; though this prophecy of his be not recorded there; and therefore it is remembered here.
from the entering of Hamath; which was the northern border of the land of Canaan, the entrance into it from Syria, see Numbers 34:8,
unto the sea of the plain: of Jordan, called sometimes the salt sea and the Dead Sea; the lake Asphaltites, as Josephus (k), where formerly stood Sodom and Gomorrah:
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 same with him whose prophecy among the small prophets bears this name; and though his prophecy concerning Jeroboam's success and victories is not there, nor anywhere else, recorded at length, yet needed not to be doubted of; this is the first of the prophets spoken of whose books are extant:
which was of Gathhepher; a city in the tribe of Zebulun, Joshua 19:13, which contradicts a notion of the Jews, that no prophet came out of Galilee, when the very first of those that were the penmen of the books of prophecies was from thence, see John 7:52.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 Gathhepher.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)25. He restored the coast of Israel] Here, as before, ‘coast’ has no reference to ‘seaboard’. The territory which Jeroboam recovered was on the east of the Jordan, and so what is meant is that he acquired again the portions of Gilead and Bashan that had been lost under previous kings.
from the entering of Hamath] R.V. entering in of H. This rendering is as in A.V. of 1 Kings 8:65 and elsewhere. The ‘entering in of Hamath’ or ‘as men come to Hamath’ is frequently mentioned as a northern limit of the Israelite territory, Hamath being a chief city of Syria and under the rulers of Damascus. Cf. Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5; Jdg 3:3.
unto the sea of the plain] R.V. of the Arabah. The sea of the Arabah is the Dead Sea. Cf. Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49; Joshua 3:16; Joshua 12:3. The Arabah is the name given to the valley from the Sea of Galilee southward to the desert. The name is found in A.V. in Joshua 18:18, and has been introduced as a proper name in the R.V. constantly. The sea of the Arabah is defined in Joshua 3:16 as ‘the salt sea’. The district restored by Jeroboam was on the east of the Jordan, and extended from the valley of the Orontes where Hamath was situated, southward to the frontiers of the Moabites.
the Lord God of Israel] R.V. the God of I. As usual.
his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai] This must be the same person to whom the prophecy of Jonah is ascribed, for it is impossible to believe that there were two persons of this name, both prophets and both sons of Amittai. Jonah must therefore have prophesied before (or early in) the reign of Jeroboam II., the commencement of whose reign is placed about b.c. 823. Thus Jonah must be the earliest of those prophets, whose writings have been preserved. That there is nothing in the book of Jonah about the prophecy mentioned in this verse need not surprise us. That book is very brief and deals with but one episode in the prophet’s life. Yet a prophet, whose ministry God employed about distant Nineveh, may certainly be expected to have had messages also for his own countrymen. Hosea (2 Kings 1:1) and Amos (2 Kings 1:1) also prophesied in the days of Jeroboam II.
which was of Gath-hepher] The same place is called Gittah-hepher in Joshua 19:13. It was not far from Nazareth in the tribe of Zebulon. Jonah therefore was a prophet of the northern Kingdom. Jewish tradition makes him to have been the son of the widow of Zarephath, whom Elijah restored to life, and says also that it was he who attended Elijah when he set forth into the wilderness, and who was sent to anoint Jehu. All which things have no foundation but conjecture.Verse 25. - He restored the coast of Israel from the entering in of Hamath. By "the entering in of Hamath" is to be understood the opening into the Coele-Syrian valley a little north of Baalbec, where the ground begins to slope northwards, and the streams to flow in the same direction to form the Orontes. Hamath itself was between eighty and ninety miles further to the north, on the middle Orontes, about N. lat. 35° 22'. The "entering in of Hamath" was always reckoned the northern boundary of the Holy Land (see Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5; Judges 3:3; 1 Kings 8:65). It corresponded with the watershed between the Orontes and the Litany. Unto the sea of the plain. The "sea of the plain" is undoubtedly the Dead Sea, the plain (ha-Arabah) being used as a sort of proper name for the lower Jordan valley, like El-Ghor at the present day (see Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 3:16; Joshua 12:3, etc.). The territory recovered no doubt included all the trans-Jordanic region as far south as the river Aruon; but the recovery of dominion over Moab, and even over Ammon, which some have seen in this passage (Ewald, 'History of Israel,' vol. 4. p. 124), is scarcely con-rained in it. According to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai (comp. Jonah 1:1). Jonah's date is determined by this passage. He was contemporary with Hosea and Amos, and earlier than Micah. His prophecy concerning Jeroboam is probably assigned to the early part of that king's reign. The prophet, which was of Gath-hepher. Gath-hepher is mentioned in Joshua, under the name of Gittah-hepher, as a city of Zebulon (2 Kings 19:13), not far from Mount Tabor. It is conjecturally identified with El-Meshhed north of Nazareth, where the tomb of Jonah is shown. 2 Kings 14:19. Amaziah, like his father Joash, did not die a natural death. They made a conspiracy against him at Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish, whither murderers were sent after him, who slew him there. The earlier commentators sought for the cause of this conspiracy in the unfortunate result of the war with Jehoash; but this conjecture is at variance with the circumstance that the conspiracy did not break out till fifteen years or more after that event. It is true that in 2 Chronicles 25:27 we read "from the time that Amaziah departed from the Lord, they formed a conspiracy against him;" but even this statement cannot be understood in any other way than that Amaziah's apostasy gave occasion for discontent, which eventually led to a conspiracy. For his apostasy began with the introduction of Edomitish deities into Jerusalem after the defeat of the Edomites, and therefore before the war with Jehoash, in the first part of his reign, whereas the conspiracy cannot possibly have lasted fifteen years or more before it came to a head. Lachish, in the lowlands of Judah, has probably been preserved in the ruins of Um Lakis (see at Joshua 10:3).
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