Jonah 4:6
And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
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(6) Prepared.—See Note, Jonah 1:17.

A gourd.—So the LXX. render the Hebrew qiqaion, which, since the time of Jerome, has been usually identified with the Arabic el keroa, the castor-oil tree (Ricinus communis, or Palma Christi; see margin). It is a large shrub, having large palmate leaves, with serrated lobes, and spikes of blossoms which produce the seed, whence the well-known medicinal oil is extracted, in small rough husks. The strongest argument in favour of this view is the proposed derivation of the Hebrew name from the Egyptian kiki, and the rabbinical name for castor-oil, kiki-oil.[22] In spite of this etymological argument, Dr. Tristram says: “Practical reasons cause me to lean strongly to the rendering of our English version, gourd, i.e., the bottle gourd (Cucurbita pepo). In Palestine the vernacularnames are almost identical in sound, “kurah” being the gourd, “khurwah” the castor-oil tree. But the gourd is very commonly employed in Palestine for the purpose of shading arbours. Its rapid growth and large leaves render it admirably adapted for training on trellis-work . . . But the plant withers as rapidly as it shoots, and after a storm or any injury to its stem, its fruit may be seen hanging from the leafless tendrils, which so lately concealed it, a type of melancholy desolation” (Nat Hist. of the Bible, p. 449).

[22] A Semitic origin for the word is rendered probable by its discovery under the form, quqanitu, on a small tablet which the Babylonian king Marduk-bal-iddin (Merodach-baladan) ordered to be set in a garden. (See letters of Dr. F. Delitzsch, to the Athenœum of May 26th and June 9th, 1883.)

Made it to come up.—Rather, it came up.

Deliver.—In the original there is a play of words on this word and shadow.

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.And the Lord God prepared a gourd - , (a palm-christ, English margin, rightly.) . "God again commanded the gourd, as he did the whale, willing only that this should be. Forthwith it springs up beautiful and full of flower, and straightway was a roof to the whole booth, and anoints him so to speak with joy, with its deep shade. The prophet rejoices at it exceedingly, as being a great and thankworthy thing. See now herein too the simplicity of his mind. For he was grieved exceedingly, because what he had prophesied came not to pass; he rejoiced exceedingly for a plant. A blameless mind is lightly moved to gladness or sorrow. You will see this in children. For as people who are not strong, easily fall, if someone gives them no very strong push, but touches them as it were with a lighter hand, so too the guileless mind is easily carried away by anything which delights or grieves it." Little as the shelter of the palm-christ was in itself, Jonah must have looked upon its sudden growth, as a fruit of God's goodness toward him, (as it was) and then perhaps went on to think (as people do) that this favor of God showed that He meant, in the end, to grant him what his heart was set upon. Those of impulsive temperaments are ever interpreting the acts of God's Providence, as bearing on what they strongly desire. Or again, they argue, 'God throws this or that in our way; therefore He means us not to relinquish it for His sake, but to have it.' By this sudden miraculous shelter against the burning Assyrian sun, which God provided for Jonah, He favored his waiting on there. So Jonah may have thought, interpreting rightly that God willed him to stay; wrongly, why He so willed. Jonah was to wait, not to see what he desired, but to receive, and be the channel of the instruction which God meant to convey to him and through him. 6. gourd—Hebrew, kikaion; the Egyptian kiki, the "ricinus" or castor-oil plant, commonly called "palm-christ" (palma-christi). It grows from eight to ten feet high. Only one leaf grows on a branch, but that leaf being often more than a foot large, the collective leaves give good shelter from the heat. It grows rapidly, and fades as suddenly when injured.

to deliver him from his grief—It was therefore grief, not selfish anger, which Jonah felt (see on [1148]Jon 4:1). Some external comforts will often turn the mind away from its sorrowful bent.

Prepared; commanded that in the place where Jonah’s booth stood, this herb, or spreading plant, should spring up to be a shade when the gathered boughs are withered.

A gourd: it is not certain what this was; some say ivy; others say it was palma christi, or five-leaved, whose leaves are so set as to resemble a man’s hand, or a wild vine or colocyntha; nor is it very material we should search further into the nature of this Nzyqyq in the text, it was some wild plant with long and broad leaves, which suddenly grew, spread itself, and made a good shade.

Made it to come up; God gate it a speedy growth, and directed the growth that it should cover the top of the booth, and be a shade to Jonah against the vehemence of the sun, which did shine very parchingly hot in those countries.

To deliver him from his grief; to give some ease to his mind, refresh his natural spirits, much discomposed by the violence of his passions and by the violent heat of the sun. It is probable this grief was some extreme fit of continued head-ache.

Exceeding glad; as vehement in his joy now as in his grief before; he was a man of great affections, whatever moved them.

Of the gourd; his ease by the gourd made him glad of it, and I observe that here is no mention made of Jonah’s seeing God in it. And the Lord God prepared a gourd,.... So the Septuagint render the word; but some say that a worm will not touch that; Jerom renders it an ivy; but neither the gourd nor that rise upwards without some props to support them. The Hebrew word is "kikaion", the same with the "kiki", or "cici", of Herodotus (c), Dioscorides (d), Strabo (e), and Pliny (f); a plant frequent in Egypt, of which the Egyptians made an oil; hence the Talmudists (g) make mention of the oil of "kik", which Reshlakish says is the "kikaion" of Jonah; and which is the same that the Arabians call "alcheroa" or "alcherva", according to Samuel ben Hophni (h), Maimonides (i), Bartenora (k), and Jerom (l); and which is well known to be the "ricinus", or "palma Christi"; and which, by the description of it, according to all the above writers, bids fairest (m) to be here intended; it rising up to the height of a tree, an olive tree, having very large broad leaves, like those of vines, or of plantain; and springing up suddenly, as Pliny says it does in Spain; and Clusius affirms he saw at the straits of Gibraltar a ricinus of the thickness of a man, and of the height of three men; and Bellonius, who travelled through Syria and Palestine, saw one in Crete of the size of a tree; and Dietericus (n), who relates the above, says he saw himself, in a garden at Leyden, well furnished and enriched with exotic plants, an American ricinus, the stalk of which was hollow, weak, and soft, and the leaves almost a foot and a half; and which Adolphus Vorstius, he adds, took to be the same which Jonah had for a shade; with which agrees what Dioscorides (o) says, that there is a sort of it which grows large like a tree, and as high as a fig tree; the leaves of it are like those of a palm tree, though broader, smoother, and blacker; the branches and trunk of it are hollow like a reed: and what may seem more to confirm this is, that a certain number of grains of the seed of the ricinus very much provoke vomiting; which, if true, as Marinus (p) observes, the word here used may be derived from which signifies to vomit; from whence is the word vomiting; and the first radical being here doubled may increase the signification, and show it to be a great emetic; and the like virtue of the ricinus is observed by others (q). Jerom allegorizes it of the ceremonial law, under the shadow of which Israel dwelt for a while; and then was abrogated by Christ, who says he was a worm, and no man: but it is better to apply it to outward mercies and earthly enjoyments, which like this plant spring out of the earth, and have their root in it, and are of the nature of it, and therefore minded by earthly and carnal men above all others; they are thin, slight, and slender things; there is no solidity and substance in them, like the kiki, whose stalk is hollow as a reed, as Dioscorides says; they are light and empty things, vanity and vexation of spirit; spring up suddenly sometimes, and are gone as soon; some men come to riches and honour at once, and rise up to a very great pitch of both, and quickly fall into poverty and disgrace again; for these are very uncertain perishing things, like this herb or plant, or even as grass, which soon withers away. They are indeed of God, who is the Father of mercies, and are the gifts of his providence, and not the merit of men; they are disposed of according to his will, and "prepared" by him in his purposes, and given forth according to them, and in his covenant to his own special people, and are to them blessings indeed:

and made it to come up over Jonah; over his head, as follows; and it may be over the booth he had built, which was become in a manner useless; the leaves of the boughs of which it was made being withered with the heat of the sun; it came over him so as to cover him all over; which may denote both the necessity of outward mercies, as food and raiment, which the Lord knows his people have need of; and the sufficiency of them he grants, with which they should be content:

that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief; either from the vexation of mind at the repentance of the Ninevites, and the mercy shown them; this being a refreshment unto him, and which he might take as a new token of the Lord's favourable regard to him, after the offence he had given him, and gentle reproof for it; or from the headache, with which he was thought to have been afflicted, through his vexation; or by the heat of the sun; or rather it was to shelter him from the heat of the sun, and the distress that gave him: so outward mercies, like a reviving and refreshing shadow, exhilarate the spirits, and are a defence against the injuries and insults of men, and a preservative from the grief and distress which poverty brings with it:

so Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd; or, "rejoiced with a great joy" (r); he was excessively and above measure glad of it, because of its usefulness to him: outward mercies are what we should be thankful for; and it is good for men to rejoice in their labours, and enjoy the good of them; to eat their bread with a merry heart and cheerfulness; but should not be elevated with them beyond measure, lifted up with pride, and boast and glory of them, and rejoice in such boastings, which is evil; or rejoice in them as their portion, placing their happiness therein, which is to rejoice in a thing of naught; or to overrate mercies, and show more affection for them than for God himself, the giver of them, who only should be our "exceeding joy"; and, when this is the case, it is much if they are not quickly taken away, as Jonah's gourd was, as follows:

(c) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 94. (d) L. 4. c. 164. (e) Geograph. l. 17. p. 566. (f) Nat. Hist. l. 15. c. 7. (g) Misa. Sabbat, c. 2. sect. 1. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 21. 2.((h) In Kimchi in loc. (i) In Misna Sabbat, c. 2. sect. 1.((k) In ib. (l) In loc. (m) Vid. Weidlingt. Dissert. de Kikaion, apud Thesaur. Theolog. Phil. Dissert. vol. 1. p. 989. & Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 24. p. 293, 294. & l. 4. c. 27. p. 623. & Geograph. par. 1. col. 918, 919. & Liveleum in loc. (n) Antiqu. Bibl. par. 1. p. 82. (o) Apud Calmet's Dictionary, in the word "Kikaion". (p) Arca Noae, tom. 2. fol. 135. (q) Hillerus in Hierophytico, par. 1. p. 453. apud Burkium in loc. (r) "et laetatus est----magna laetitia", Pagninus, Montanus; "et laetabaturque laetitia magna", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "gavisus est gaudio magno", Burkius,

And the LORD God prepared a {f} gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

(f) Which was a further means to cover him from the heat of the sun, as he remained in his booth.

6. prepared] Rather, appointed. And so in Jonah 4:7-8. See Jonah 1:17, note.

a gourd] This is the only place in the Old Testament in which the Hebrew word here translated gourd occurs. It is quite a different word which is rendered gourd in 2 Kings 4:39, and (of architectural ornaments) in 1 Kings 6:18 (margin), 1 Kings 7:24. It is an old controversy, dating back as far as the times of Jerome and Augustine, whether Jonah’s plant was a gourd or not. It is now generally admitted that it was not, but that the plant intended is the ricinus communis or castor-oil plant. This plant satisfies all the requirements of the history. The name kikayon here used in the Hebrew is akin to the word kikeia or kiki (Herodot. II. 94), which ancient authors tell us was used by the Egyptians and others for the castor-oil plant. That plant is a native of North Africa, Arabia, Syria and Palestine, and is said by travellers to grow abundantly and to a great size in the neighbourhood of the Tigris. It is succulent, with a hollow stem, and has broad vine-like leaves (much larger, however, than those of the vine), which from their supposed resemblance to the extended palm of the hand have gained for the plant the name of Palma Christi, or palmchrist. It grows with such extraordinary rapidity that under favourable conditions it rises to about eight feet within five or six months, while in America it has been known to reach the height of thirteen feet in less than three months. Jerome also bears testimony to the rapidity of its growth. It is, he says, “a shrub with broad leaves like vine-leaves. It gives a very dense shade, and supports itself on its own stem. It grows most abundantly in Palestine, especially in sandy spots. If you cast the seed into the ground, it is soon quickened, rises marvellously into a tree, and in a few days what you had beheld a herb you look up to a shrub.”—Pusey.

made it to come up] Or, it came up. The naturally rapid growth of the plant was miraculously accelerated. As in other miracles of Holy Scripture Almighty God at once resembled nature and exceeded nature. “We know that God, when He does anything beyond the course of nature, does nevertheless come near to nature in His working. This is not indeed always the case; but we shall find for the most part that God has so worked as to outdo the course of nature, and yet not to desert nature altogether.… So too in this place, I do not doubt that God chose a plant, which would quickly grow up even to such a height as this, and yet that He surpassed the wonted course of nature.” (Calvin.) In like manner, our Lord, when at the marriage-feast in Cana He turned the water into wine, “was working in the line of (above, indeed, but not across or counter to) His more ordinary workings, which we see daily around us, the unnoticed miracles of every-day nature.” “He made wine that day at the marriage in those six water-pots which He had commanded to be filled with water, Who every year makes it in the vines. For as what the servants had put into the water-pots was turned into wine by the working of the Lord, so too what the clouds pour forth is turned into wine by the working of the same Lord. This however, we do not wonder at, because it happens every year: its frequency has made it cease to be a marvel.” St Augustine, quoted by Trench On the Miracles.

a shadow over his head] His booth or hut, made as we have seen of twigs and branches, the leaves of which would naturally soon wither, was far from being impervious to the rays of the sun. The living plant rising above the booth and covering it with its broad shadow would prove a most welcome addition.

from his grief] Lit. his evil, the same word as in Jonah 4:1. The gloomy and dissatisfied condition of his mind had been aggravated by physical causes. The heat and closeness of his booth had added to the weariness and oppression of his spirit. The palmchrist with its refreshing shade by ministering to his bodily comfort had tended also to calm and soothe the agitation of his mind. We need not look for any deeper meaning in the words. It is surely a mistake to say that Jonah “must have looked upon its sudden growth as a fruit of God’s goodness towards him (as it was) and then perhaps went on to think (as people do) that this favour of God showed that He meant in the end to grant him what his heart was set upon.” (Pusey.) The object of the writer is not to tell us what inferences Jonah drew from the sudden growth of the plant, but what was the object and intention of Almighty God in causing it to grow up over him. He sent it to refresh him as a step in His lesson of correction and amendment; He did not send it to mislead him. The force of the rebuke in Jonah 4:10-11, in which the chapter culminates and which turns entirely upon Jonah’s joy and grief for the plant, is greatly weakened if we import into that joy and grief such moral elements.Verses 6, 7. - 3. God causes a plant to spring up in order to shade Jonah from the sun; but it is made soon to wither away and leave him exposed to the scorching rays. Verse 6. - Prepared (vers. 7, 8); appointed (see note on Jonah 1:17). A gourd; Hebrew, kikaion (here only in the Old Testament); Septuagint, κολοκύνθη," pumpkin;" Vulgate, hedera; Aquila and Theodotion, κυκεών. Jerome describes this as a shrub called in Syriac elkeroa, and common in the sandy regions of Palestine. It has large leaves and grows to a considerable height in a very few days, so that a mere shrub becomes quickly a small tree. The scientific name of this plant is Ricinus communis; in Egyptian, kiki; in Assyrian, kukanitu. A drawing of it is given in Dr Pusey's 'Commentary,' p 260. It is also known by the name of the Palma Christi, and from its seeds is expressed "castor oil." But it is very doubtful whether this is the plant intended. Certainly the ricinus is never used in the East as a protection against the sun, for which its straggling, open growth renders it unsuitable; while the gourd, as Mr. Tristram testifies ('Land of Israel,' p. 37), is used universally to form trellises for shading arbours and summer houses, and affords a most effectual screen. "Orientals," says Dr. Thomson ('The Land and the Book,' p. 15), "never dream of training a castor-oil plant overs booth, or planting it for a shade, and they would have but small respect for any one who did. It is in no way adapted for that purpose, while thousands of arbours are covered with various creepers of the general gourd family." With this testimony it is well to be satisfied. Whatever the plant was, its growth was abnormal in the present ease, though the rapidity with which it developed was merely a quickening of its ordinary powers, in due accordance with its nature and character. From his grief; Septuagint, ἀπὸ τῶν κακῶν αὐτοῦ, "from his evils;" Vulgate, ut... protegeret eum. The Hebrew word is the same as in ver. 1, and it refers, not so much to the physical discomfort occasioned by the heat, but rather to the condition of his mind, the vexation and disappointment under which he was suffering. We exceeding glad; literally, rejoiced a great joy; ἐχάρη χαρὰν μεγάλην (Septuagint). The candour and simplicity of the writer throughout are very remarkable. He may have seen in this providential shelter an intimation that God approved of his intention to wait and see the issue. 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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