Jonah 4:5
So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
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(5) So Jonah went out.—The explanation given in the preceding note avoids the necessity of giving the verb in this clause a pluperfect force, which else would be necessary to account for the prophet’s continued expectation of the destruction of Nineveh after his irritation at the Divine clemency towards it.

Boothi.e., of boughs, like those used at the Feast of Tabernacles. (See next Note.)

4:5-11 Jonah went out of the city, yet remained near at hand, as if he expected and desired its overthrow. Those who have fretful, uneasy spirits, often make troubles for themselves, that they may still have something to complain of. See how tender God is of his people in their afflictions, even though they are foolish and froward. A thing small in itself, yet coming seasonably, may be a valuable blessing. A gourd in the right place may do us more service than a cedar. The least creatures may be great plagues, or great comforts, as God is pleased to make them. Persons of strong passions are apt to be cast down with any trifle that crosses them, or to be lifted up with a trifle that pleases them. See what our creature-comforts are, and what we may expect them to be; they are withering things. A small worm at the root destroys a large gourd: our gourds wither, and we know not what is the cause. Perhaps creature-comforts are continued to us, but are made bitter; the creature is continued, but the comfort is gone. God prepared a wind to make Jonah feel the want of the gourd. It is just that those who love to complain, should never be left without something to complain of. When afflicting providences take away relations, possessions, and enjoyments, we must not be angry at God. What should especially silence discontent, is, that when our gourd is gone, our God is not gone. Sin and death are very dreadful, yet Jonah, in his heat, makes light of both. One soul is of more value than the whole world; surely then one soul is of more value than many gourds: we should have more concern for our own and others' precious souls, than for the riches and enjoyments of this world. It is a great encouragement to hope we shall find mercy with the Lord, that he is ready to show mercy. And murmurers shall be made to understand, that how willing soever they are to keep the Divine grace to themselves and those of their own way, there is one Lord over all, who is rich in mercy to all that call upon him. Do we wonder at the forbearance of God towards his perverse servant? Let us study our own hearts and ways; let us not forget our own ingratitude and obstinacy; and let us be astonished at God's patience towards us.So Jonah went out of the city - o, The form of the words implies (as in the English Version), that this took place after Jonah was convinced that God would spare Nineveh; and since there is no intimation that he knew it by revelation, then it was probably after the 40 days . "The days being now past, after which it was time that the things foretold should be accomplished, and His anger as yet taking no effect, Jonah understood that God had pity on Nineveh. Still he does not give up all hope, and thinks that a respite of the evil has been granted them on their willingness to repent, but that some effect of His displeasure would come, since the pains of their repentance bad not equalled their offences. So thinking in himself apparently, he departs from the city, and waits to see what will become of them." "He expected" apparently "that it would either fall by an earthquake, or be burned with fire, like Sodom" . "Jonah, in that he built him a tabernale and sat over against Nineveh, awaiting what should happen to it, wore a different, foresignifying character. For he prefigured the carnal people of Israel. For these too were sad at the salvation of the Ninevites, i. e., the redemption and deliverance of the Gentiles. Whence Christ came to call, not the righteous but sinners to repentance. But the over-shadowing gourd over his head was the promises of the Old Testament or those offices in which, as the apostle says, there was a shadow of good things to come, protecting them in the land of promise from temporal evils; all which are now emptied and faded. And now that people, having lost the temple at Jerusalem and the priesthood and sacrifice (all which was a shadow of that which was to come) in its captive dispersion, is scorched by a vehement heat of tribulation, as Jonah by the heat of the sun, and grieves greatly; and yet the salvation of the pagan and the penitent is accounted of more moment than its grief, and the shadow which it loved." 5. made him a booth—that is, a temporary hut of branches and leaves, so slightly formed as to be open to the wind and sun's heat.

see what would become of the city—The term of forty days had not yet elapsed, and Jonah did not know that anything more than a suspension, or mitigation, of judgment had been granted to Nineveh. Therefore, not from sullennesss, but in order to watch the event from a neighboring station, he lodged in the booth. As a stranger, he did not know the depth of Nineveh's repentance; besides, from the Old Testament standpoint he knew that chastening judgments often followed, as in David's case (2Sa 12:10-12, 14), even where sin had been repented of. To show him what he knew not, the largeness and completeness of God's mercy to penitent Nineveh, and the reasonableness of it, God made his booth a school of discipline to give him more enlightened views.

So, when the Lord had taken notice and reproved the passions of Jonah, and made some impression on his mind for the present,

Jonah went out of the city; discontented in himself, and doubtful of the issue whether God would be more tender of the life of multitudes or of Jonah’s credit, the prophet withdrew himself, and waits; how long we have not any ground of conjecture.

And sat; put himself into a posture of waiting, and therefore, to repose himself, rather sat than stood.

On the east side of the city; which in likelihood was some higher ground, the city standing on the east banks of Tigris; the further he went east, the higher the ground was, and the safer, from the uncertain manner of the city’s overthrow.

Made him a booth; some small and mean shed for shade and shelter, usually made of green boughs.

And sat under it in the shadow; these boughs, thus pitched and made into a booth, afforded some shadow, in which Jonah reposed him.

Till he might see what would become of the city: by this passage it should seem the forty days were not fully expired, nor yet wanted much of expiring, and Jonah seems resolved there to expect the event of the city. So Jonah went out of the city,.... Had not the inhabitants of it repented, he had done right to go out of it, and shake the dust of his feet against it; or, in such a case, had he gone out of it, as Lot out of Sodom, when just going to be overthrown; but Jonah went out in a sullen fit, because it was to be spared; though some render the words, "now Jonah had gone out of the city" (a); that is, before all this passed, recorded in the preceding verses; and so Aben Ezra observes, that the Scripture returns here to make mention of the affairs of Jonah, and what happened before the accomplishment of the forty days:

and sat on the east side of the city; where he might have very probably a good sight of it; and which lay the reverse of the road to his own country; that, if the inhabitants should pursue him, they would miss of him; which some suppose he might be in fear of, should their city be destroyed:

and there made him a booth; of the boughs of trees, which he erected, not to continue in, but for a short time, expecting in a few days the issue of his prediction:

and sat under it in the shadow; to shelter him from the heat of the sun:

till he might see what would become of the city; or, "what would be done in" it, or "with" it (b); if this was after he knew that the Lord had repented of the evil he threatened, and was disposed to show mercy to the city; and which, as Kimchi thinks, was revealed to him by the spirit of prophecy; then he sat here, expecting the repentance of the Ninevites would be a short lived one; be like the goodness of Ephraim and Judah, as the morning cloud, and early dew that passes away; and that then God would change his dispensations towards them again, as he had done; or however he might expect, that though the city was not totally overthrown, yet that there would be something done; some lesser judgment fall upon them, as a token of the divine displeasure, and which might save his credit as a prophet

(a) "exicrat autem", Mercerus; "exivit", Cocceius. (b) "quid esset futurum in civitate", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Tarnovius; "quid fieret in ea urbe", Vatablus.

So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, {e} till he might see what would become of the city.

(e) For he doubted as yet whether God would show them mercy or not, and therefore after forty days he departed out of the city, to see what God would do.

5. So Jonah went out of the city] It has been proposed to take the verbs in this verse as pluperfects: “Now Jonah had gone out of the city, and abode on the east side of the city, &c.” The verse will then be a parenthesis introduced to relate what had really taken place before Jonah’s anger and complaint. In point of time it will precede the first verse of the chapter. It is doubtful, however, whether such a rendering is grammatically allowable; nor is there any reason for adopting it. The course of the narrative flows regularly on throughout the chapter. Jonah while still in the city comes to know that Nineveh will be spared. In bitter displeasure he complains to God, and is rebuked (Jonah 4:1-4). Still cherishing the hope of vengeance, fostered possibly by the question in Jonah 4:4, which his distempered mind might interpret to mean, “Do not judge too hastily what My purposes may be,” he will not abandon the city altogether. He will linger yet awhile in its precincts, and watch what its fate shall be.

on the east side of the city] where it was skirted by hills. Probably he chose some eminence from which he could command a view of the city.

a booth] of twigs and branches, such as the Israelites were directed to dwell in for seven days at the feast of tabernacles (Leviticus 23:42; Nehemiah 8:14-16). Such were the “tabernacles” which St Peter proposed to make on the Mount of Transfiguration.

till he might see what would become of the city] We are not told whether this was before or after the forty days had expired. If it was before, then we must suppose that Jonah, and possibly the Ninevites also, had some direct intimation that God would spare the city, and that Jonah in his reluctance to accept the result still tarried in the neighbourhood, in the hope that on the appointed day the blow would fall. If however we suppose that the forty days had elapsed without the threatened judgment being executed, and that it was by this that Jonah and the Ninevites knew that God had repented Him of the evil, we can only conclude that Jonah hoped for some later punishment upon the people of Nineveh, provoked it might be by their speedy relapse into sin. “The days being now past, after which it was time that the things foretold should be accomplished, and His anger as yet taking no effect, Jonah understood that a respite of the evil has been granted them, on their willingness to repent, but thinks that some effect of His displeasure would come, since the pains of their repentance had not equalled their offences. So thinking in himself apparently, he departs from the city, and waits to see what will become of them.”—St Cyr. quoted by Pusey.Verse 5. - § 2. Jonah, not yet abandoning his hope of seeing the city punished, makes for himself a hut outside the walls, and waits there to see the issue. Went out of the city. It is best so rendered, and not in the pluperfect. It must have been before the end of the forty days that Jonah perceived that Nineveh would escape. And now, from God's expostulation with him in ver. 4, he seem to have conceived the expectation that some catastrophe would still happen; as though God had told him that he was too hasty in his judgment, that he could not know the mind of God, and that because he did not strike immediately he was not to conclude that he would not strike at all. On the east side of the city. The opposite side to that by which he had entered, and where the high ground enabled him to overlook the town, without necessarily sharing in its destruction. A booth. A tent constructed of branches interlaced, which did not exclude the sun (Leviticus 23:42; Nehemiah 8:14, etc.). What would become of the city. He still expected that some calamity would befall the Ninevites, perhaps with the idea that their repentance would prove so imperfect and temporary that God would punish them after all. The Elegy. - Amos 5:1. "Hear ye this word, which I raise over you; a lamentation, O house of Israel. Amos 5:2. The virgin Israel is fallen; she does not rise up again; cast down upon her soil; no one sets her up. Amos 5:3. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, The city that goes out by a thousand will retain a hundred, and that which goes out by a hundred will retain ten, for the house of Israel." הדּבר הזּה is still further defined in the relative clause אשׁר וגו as קינה, a mournful song, lit., a lamentation or dirge for one who is dead (cf. 2 Samuel 1:17; 2 Chronicles 35:25). אשׁר is a relative pronoun, not a conjunction (for); and qı̄nâh is an explanatory apposition: which I raise or commence as (or "namely") a lamentation. "House of Israel" is synonymous with "house of Joseph" (Amos 5:6), hence Israel of the ten tribes. The lamentation follows in Amos 5:2, showing itself to be a song by the rhythm and by its poetical form. נפל, to fall, denotes a violent death (2 Samuel 1:19, 2 Samuel 1:25), and is here a figure used to denote the overthrow or destruction of the kingdom. The expression virgin Israel (an epexegetical genitive, not "of Israel") rests upon a poetical personification of the population of a city or of a kingdom, as a daughter, and wherever the further idea of being unconquered is added, as a virgin (see at Isaiah 23:12). Here, too, the term "virgin" is used to indicate the contrast between the overthrow predicted and the original destination of Israel, as the people of God, to be unconquered by any heathen nation whatever. The second clause of the verse strengthens the first. נטּשׁ, to be stretched out or cast down, describes the fall as a violent overthrow. The third verse does not form part of the lamentation, but gives a brief, cursory vindication of it by the announcement that Israel will perish in war, even to a very small remnant. יצא refers to their marching out to war, and אלף, מאה is subordinated to it, as a more precise definition of the manner in which they marched out (cf. Ewald, 279, b).
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