Jonah 3:2
Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
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(2) Preach.—In Jonah 1:2 the word is rendered “cry.”

3:1-4 God employs Jonah again in his service. His making use of us is an evidence of his being at peace with us. Jonah was not disobedient, as he had been. He neither endeavoured to avoid hearing the command, nor declined to obey it. See here the nature of repentance; it is the change of our mind and way, and a return to our work and duty. Also, the benefit of affliction; it brings those back to their place who had deserted it. See the power of Divine grace, for affliction of itself would rather drive men from God, than draw them to him. God's servants must go where he sends them, come when he calls them, and do what he bids them; we must do whatever the word of the Lord commands. Jonah faithfully and boldly delivered his errand. Whether Jonah said more, to show the anger of God against them, or whether he only repeated these words again and again, is not certain, but this was the purport of his message. Forty days is a long time for a righteous God to delay judgments, yet it is but a little time for an unrighteous people to repent and reform in. And should it not awaken us to get ready for death, to consider that we cannot be so sure that we shall live forty days, as Nineveh then was that it should stand forty days? We should be alarmed if we were sure not to live a month, yet we are careless though we are not sure to live a day.Arise, go to Nineveh that great city, and preach (or cry) unto it - God says to Jonah the self-same words which He had said before; only perhaps He gives him an intimation of His purpose of mercy, in that he says no more, "cry against her," but "cry unto her." He might "cry against" one doomed to destruction; to "cry unto her," seems to imply that she had some interest in, and so some hope from, this cry. "The preaching that I bid thee." This is the only notice which Jonah relates that God took of his disobedience, in that He charged him to obey exactly what He commanded . "He does not say to him, why didst thou not what I commanded?" He had rebuked him in deed; He amended him and upbraided him not . "The rebuke of that shipwreck and the swallowing by the fish sufficed, so that he who had not felt the Lord commanding, might understand Him, delivering."

Jonah might have seemed unworthy to be again inspired by God. But "whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth;" whom He chasteneth, He loveth . "The hard discipline, the severity and length of the scourge, were the earnests of a great trust and a high destination." He knew him to be changed into another man, and, by one of His most special favors, gives him that same trust which he had before deserted . "As Christ, when risen, commended His sheep to Peter, wiser now and more fervent, so to Jonah risen He commends the conversion of Nineveh. For so did Christ risen bring about the conversion of the pagan, by sending His Apostles, each into large provinces, as Jonah was sent alone to a large city" . "He bids him declare not only the sentence of God, but in the same words; not to consider his own estimation or the ears of his hearers, nor to mingle soothing with severe words, and convey the message ingeniously, but with all freedom and severity to declare openly what was commanded him. This plainness, though, may be less acceptable to people or princes, is ofttimes more useful, always more approved by God. Nothing should be more sacred to the preacher of God's word, than truth and simplicity and inviolable sanctity in delivering it. Now alas, all this is changed into vain show at the will of the multitude and the breath of popular favor."

2. preach … the preaching—literally, "proclaim the proclamation." On the former occasion the specific object of his commission to Nineveh was declared; here it is indeterminate. This is to show how freely he yields himself, in the spirit of unconditional obedience, to speak whatever God may please. Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city; see Amos 1:2; great in extent of ground, in strength of its fortifications, height and breadth of its walls, and multitude of its towers; great in the multitude of its numbers, and riches of its citizens, and every whit as great in the multitude of its sins: but let nothing retard or discourage thee, arise and go.

Preach, publicly, plainly, boldly; cry, Amos 1:2.

Unto it, i.e. against it, publish the near approaching ruin of it, preach to them the necessity of their repentance, and awaken them to it by the terrors of the Lord.

The preaching that I bid thee; either which I did bid thee at first, as Amos 1:2, or what I shall suggest and communicate to thee when thou art come thither.

Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city,.... So it is called; See Gill on Jonah 1:2. The order runs in the same words as before; and the same discouragements are presented to Jonah, taken from the greatness of the city, the number of its inhabitants, its being the metropolis of the Assyrian empire, and the seat of the greatest monarch on earth, to try his faith; but these had not the like effect as before; for he had now another spirit given him, not of fear, but of a sound mind; he considered he was sent by a greater King, and that more were they that were on his side than the inhabitants of this place, who might possibly be against him:

and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee; that he had bid him before, declaring and exposing their wickedness, and telling them that in a short time their city would be destroyed. Jonah must not be gratified with any alteration in the message; but he must go with it as it had before been given, or what he now bid, or should bid him; the word of the Lord must be spoken just as it is delivered; nothing must be added to it, or taken from it; the whole counsel of God must be declared; prophets and ministers must preach, not as men bid them, but as God bids them. The Targum is,

"prophesy against it the prophecy which I speak with thee.''

Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
2. that great city] Calvin explains this repeated mention of the greatness of Nineveh (comp. Jonah 1:2), as intended to prepare Jonah for the magnitude of the task before him, lest when he came face to face with it he should be appalled and draw back. But perhaps the true key is to be found in Jonah 4:11, where the same expression “the great city” occurs as an argument for God’s compassion. It is on no mean errand of mercy, not to save a few only from destruction, that I bid you go.

preach unto it the preaching] Lit., cry to it the crying. The word is rendered cry, Jonah 1:2.

Verse 2. - That great city (see note on Jonah 1:2). Preaching; rendered "cry" in Jonah 1:2; Septuagint, κήρυγμα. This time the proclamation is unto it, as interested in the message, not "against it," as doomed to destruction (Pusey). Jonah 3:2The word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, to go to Nineveh and proclaim to that city what Jehovah would say to him. קריאה: that which is called out, the proclamation, τὸ κήρυγμα (lxx). Jonah now obeyed the word of Jehovah. But Nineveh was a great city to God (lē'lōhı̄m), i.e., it was regarded by God as a great city. This remark points to the motive for sparing it (cf. Jonah 4:11), in case its inhabitants hearkened to the word of God. Its greatness amounted to "a three days' walk." This is usually supposed to refer to the circumference of the city, by which the size of a city is generally determined. But the statement in Jonah 3:4, that "Jonah began to enter into the city the walk of a day," i.e., a day's journey, is apparently at variance with this. Hence Hitzig has come to the conclusion that the diameter or length of the city is intended, and that, as the walk of a day in Jonah 3:4 evidently points to the walk of three days in Jonah 3:3, the latter must also be understood as referring to the length of Nineveh. But according to Diod. ii. 3 the length of the city was 150 stadia, and Herodotus (v. 53) gives just this number of stadia as a day's journey. Hence Jonah would not have commenced his preaching till he had reached the opposite end of the city. This line of argument, the intention of which is to prove the absurdity of the narrative, is based upon the perfectly arbitrary assumption that Jonah went through the entire length of the city in a straight line, which is neither probable in itself, nor implied in בּוא בעיר. This simply means to enter, or go into the city, and says nothing about the direction of the course he took within the city. But in a city, the diameter of which was 150 stadia, and the circumference 480 stadia, one might easily walk for a whole day without reaching the other end, by winding about from one street into another. And Jonah would have to do this to find a suitable place for his preaching, since we are not warranted in assuming that it lay exactly in the geographical centre, or at the end of the street which led from the gate into the city. But if Jonah wandered about in different directions, as Theodoret says, "not going straight through the city, but strolling through market-places, streets, etc.," the distance of a day's journey over which he travelled must not be understood as relating to the diameter or length of the city; so that the objection to the general opinion, that the three days' journey given as the size of the city refers to the circumference, entirely falls to the ground. Moreover, Hitzig has quite overlooked the word ויּחל in his argument. The text does not affirm that Jonah went a day's journey into the city, but that he "began to go into the city a day's journey, and cried out." These words do not affirm that he did not begin to preach till after he had gone a whole day's journey, but simply that he had commenced his day's journey in the city when he found a suitable place and a fitting opportunity for his proclamation. They leave the distance that he had really gone, when he began his preaching, quite indefinite; and by no means necessitate the assumption that he only began to preach in the evening, after his day's journey was ended. All that they distinctly affirm is, that he did not preach directly he entered the city, but only after he had commenced a day's journey, that is to say, had gone some distance into the city. And this is in perfect harmony with all that we know about the size of Nineveh at that time. The circumference of the great city Nineveh, or the length of the boundaries of the city of Nineveh in the broadest sense, was, as Niebuhr says (p. 277), "nearly ninety English miles, not reckoning the smaller windings of the boundary; and this would be just three days' travelling for a good walker on a long journey." "Jonah," he continues, "begins to go a day's journey into the city, then preaches, and the preaching reaches the ears of the king (cf. Jonah 3:6). He therefore came very near to the citadel as he went along on his first day's journey. At that time the citadel was probably in Nimrud (Calah). Jonah, who would hardly have travelled through the desert, went by what is now the ordinary caravan road past Amida, and therefore entered the city at Nineveh. And it was on the road from Nineveh to Calah, not far off the city, possibly in the city itself, that he preached. Now the distance between Calah and Nineveh (not reckoning either city), measured in a straight line upon the map, is 18 1/2 English miles." If, then, we add to this, (1) that the road from Nineveh to Calah or Nimrud hardly ran in a perfectly straight line, and therefore would be really longer than the exact distance between the two parts of the city according to the map, and (2) that Jonah had first of all to go through Nineveh, and possibly into Calah, he may very well have walked twenty English miles, or a short day's journey, before he preached. The main point of his preaching is all that is given, viz., the threat that Nineveh would be destroyed, which was the point of chief importance, so far as the object of the book was concerned, and which Jonah of course explained by denouncing the sins and vices of the city. The threat ran thus: "Yet forty days, and Nineveh will be destroyed." נהפּך, lit., overturned, i.e., destroyed from the very foundations, is the word applied to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The respite granted is fixed at forty days, according to the number which, even as early as the flood, was taken as the measure for determining the delaying of visitations of God.

(Note: The lxx, however, τρεῖς ἡμέρας, probably from a peculiar and arbitrary combination, and not merely from an early error of the pen. The other Greek translators (Aquil., Symm., and Theodot.) had, according to Theodoret, the number forty; and so also had the Syriac.)

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