Nahum 3:8
Are you better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Populous No.—Better, No Amon. Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt, was known to the Hebrews as “No Amon” (perhaps, “house of the god Amon;” similarly the Greeks called it Διόσπολις). Assyria herself had reduced the power of Thebes. (1) Sargon, the father of Sennacherib, had defeated Shebah, the Egyptian Tar-dan, at Rapikh, cir. B.C. 716. (2) Esar-haddon, Sennacherib’s son, had routed the forces of Tirhakah, subjugated the whole of the Nile valley, and taken the city where Tirhakah held his court, probably Thebes, cir. B.C. 670. (3) Asshur-bani-pal invaded Egypt in the year of his accession, B.C. 668, and reinstated certain rulers of his father’s appointment, whom Tirhakah had driven out. In B.C. 665, another revolt brought this king again into Egypt. On this occasion Thebes was certainly sacked, and a large booty, including “gold, silver, precious stones, dyed garments, captives (male and female), tame animals brought up in the palace, obelisks, &c., was carried off, and conveyed to Nineveh” {Five Great Monarchies, ii. 203). The present passage may refer either to this event or to Esar-haddon’s previous capture of Thebes. The fall of the city was certainly a thing of the past when Nahum wrote. The allusion, therefore, helps us to assign the date of the composition (see Introduction). To mere human reasoning the downfall of Thebes testified to the power of Assyria, its conqueror. But to the inspired vision of Nahum, the ruin of the one world-power is an earnest of the ruin of the other. Both had been full of luxury and oppression, both were hated of mankind and opposed to God. If No-Amon has fallen, the city of the hundred gates, the metropolis of the Pharaohs, the conqueror whose countless captives reared the pyramids, why shall Nineveh stand? If Nineveh is protected by rivers—the Tigris and the Khausser—had not Thebes a rampart in the Nile, that “sea” of waters (comp. Isaiah 19:5), and its numerous canals? If Nineveh relies on subordinate or friendly states—Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Syria—had not Thebes all the resources of Africa—Ethiopia in the south, the Egypts in the north, her Libyan allies, Put and the Lubim, in the north-west? Yet what was the fate of No Amon? Her youth carried off in the slave-gangs of Assyria; her infants dashed to pieces at the street-corner (2Kings 8:12), as unprofitable to the captor; her senators reserved to grace a triumph, and assigned to the Assyrian generals by lot (Obadiah 1:11).

Nahum 3:8-10. Art thou better than populous No — Art thou in a better or safer condition; or hast thou more merit than the famous populous city of No? The Hebrew reads, No-ammon, the same city which is spoken of Jeremiah 46:25; and Ezekiel 30:15; where see the notes; and where our version reads, the multitude of No, as here, populous No. It is thought by some, that the place took its rise from Ham, by whose posterity Egypt was peopled, (thence called the land of Ham, Psalm 106:22,) and who was worshipped under the name of Jupiter-ammon. Accordingly the LXX. render it Diospolis, that is, the city of Jupiter. That was situate among the rivers — Which was defended by the river Nile on the one side, and the Red sea on the other, as by so many walls and ramparts. Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength — Their forces defended this city. And it was infinite — Houbigant renders the verse, The Ethiopians and Egyptians, who are innumerable, were her strength; the Africans and Libyans were her helpers. Yet was she carried away — It is evident that Nahum does not here foretel the destruction of No-ammon as an event yet to come, but speaks of it as a transaction past, although but lately. It therefore cannot be attributed to Nebuchadnezzar, for that would suppose it to have happened after the destruction of Nineveh, instead of before it. Dr. Prideaux, with more reason, believes that it was effected by Sennacherib, about three years before he besieged Jerusalem, in the time of Hezekiah. At that time Sevechus, the son of Sabaccon, or So, mentioned 2 Kings 17:4, was king both of Egypt and Ethiopia; so they are mentioned here as confederates, and Isaiah foretels that they should be vanquished by Sargon, or Sennacherib. They cast lots for her honourable men — Conquerors used to cast lots what captives should come to each man’s share: see note on Obadiah 1:11.3:8-19 Strong-holds, even the strongest, are no defence against the judgments of God. They shall be unable to do any thing for themselves. The Chaldeans and Medes would devour the land like canker-worms. The Assyrians also would be eaten up by their own numerous hired troops, which seem to be meant by the word rendered merchants. Those that have done evil to their neighbours, will find it come home to them. Nineveh, and many other cities, states, and empires, have been ruined, and should be a warning to us. Are we better, except as there are some true Christians amongst us, who are a greater security, and a stronger defence, than all the advantages of situation or strength? When the Lord shows himself against a people, every thing they trust in must fail, or prove a disadvantage; but he continues good to Israel. He is a strong-hold for every believer in time of trouble, that cannot be stormed or taken; and he knoweth those that trust in Him.Art thou better - More populous or more powerful, "than the populous No?" rather than No-Ammon, so called from the idol Ammon, worshiped there. No-Ammon, (or, as it is deciphered in the Cuneiform Inscriptions, Nia), meaning probably "the portion of Ammon" , was the sacred name of the capital of Upper Egypt, which, under its common name, Thebes, was far-famed, even in the time of Homer, for its continually accruing wealth, its military power, its 20,000 chariots, its vast dimensions attested by its 100 gates .8. populous No—rather, as Hebrew, "No-ammon," the Egyptian name for Thebes in Upper Egypt; meaning the portion or possession of Ammon, the Egyptian Jupiter (whence the Greeks called the city Diospolis), who was especially worshipped there. The Egyptian inscriptions call the god Amon-re, that is, Amon the Sun; he is represented as a human figure with a ram's head, seated on a chair (Jer 46:25; Eze 30:14-16). The blow inflicted on No-ammon, described in Na 3:10, was probably by the Assyrian Sargon (see on [1160]Isa 18:1; [1161]Isa 20:1). As Thebes, with all her resources, was overcome by Assyria, so Assyrian Nineveh, notwithstanding all her might, in her turn, shall be overcome by Babylon. English Version, "populous," if correct, implies that No's large population did not save her from destruction.

situate among the rivers—probably the channels into which the Nile here divides (compare Isa 19:6-8). Thebes lay on both sides of the river. It was famed in Homer's time for its hundred gates [Iliad, 9.381]. Its ruins still describe a circumference of twenty-seven miles. Of them the temples of Luxor and Karnak, east of the river, are most famous. The colonnade of the former, and the grand hall of the latter, are of stupendous dimensions. One wall still represents the expedition of Shishak against Jerusalem under Rehoboam (1Ki 14:25; 2Ch 12:2-9).

whose … wall was from the sea—that is, rose up "from the sea." Maurer translates, "whose wall consisted of the sea." But this would be a mere repetition of the former clause. The Nile is called a sea, from its appearance in the annual flood (Isa 19:5).

Art thou, O Nineveh,

better than populous No? it is generally supposed that this was what we now call Alexandria, a city full of people, and as full of luxury and uncleanness, the sins whereof had brought it to ruin, though the history of it do not specify time, person, or means, &c. Art thou greater, stronger, and wiser, more able to resist, an enemy, and preserve thyself? Yet all her power was broken, her riches spoiled, and her glory buried in ruins. This, known in those days, was a fit example to be set before the Ninevites; and though some conjecture the prophet foretells what should befall populous No, to awaken the Ninevites, yet it seems incredible that the prophet should take an instance to terrify secure Ninevites from somewhat to come to pass in after-ages.

Situate among the rivers; in a place where the seven streams of Nilus very fairly might be accounted so many rivers, and near to one of these streams, toward the sea, was this mighty and rich city seated.

The waters round about it; though at some distance, yet at no great distance.

Whose rampart, or defence of its walls on one side,

was the sea; that part of the Midland Sea which was Mare Egyptiacum, and was northward from the city.

Her wall was from the sea; a mighty strong wall built from the sea, on the parts landward, where need was. Art thou better than populous No,.... Or No Amon, a city in Egypt so called, not because the kings of Egypt were nursed and brought up there, as Jarchi and Abarbinel; see Proverbs 8:30 but from Ham the son of Noah, whose land Egypt was; or from Jupiter Ammon, worshipped there. No Amon signifies the mansion or palace of Ham, or Hamon; the Egyptians, as Herodotus says (h), call Jupiter by the name of Ammon. The Targum interprets it of Alexandria the great, a city so called long after this, when it was rebuilt by Alexander the great; so Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, understand it: others take Diospolis or Thebes to be meant, famous in Homer (i) for its hundred gates; though some think this was not the number of the gates of the city, but of the temples in it; and others are of opinion that these were so many palaces of princes (k). The city was built by Osiris; or, according to others, by Busiris, and seems more likely to be the place here meant; since here was a temple dedicated to Jupiter, called by the Egyptians Ammon, as Diodorus Siculus (l) relates, and was a very large and populous city. Indeed, according to the above historian, it was in compass but a seventeen and a half miles (m); which is to be understood of the city when first built, and before it was enlarged; for it must have been a great deal larger in later times, if we may judge of it by its ruins. Strabo (n), who was an eyewitness of them quickly after its last destruction by Cornelius Gallus, says, the footsteps of its largeness were seen fourscore furlongs in length, or ten miles; and even this was but small, in comparison of what it was before it was destroyed by Cambyses, when it is said to reach four hundred and twenty furlongs, or fifty two miles and a half (o). It was the metropolis of all Egypt; and formerly the whole country was called after its name, as Herodotus (p) observes. The accounts given of its inhabitants are incredible, and particularly of the soldiers it sent out; according to the epitaph of Rhampses, seven hundred thousand soldiers dwelt in it; which number Diodorus Siculus (q) gives to all the people in Egypt; but, though it may seem too large for Thebes, must be too little for all Egypt; especially if what Agrippa in Josephus (r) says is right, that Egypt, from Ethiopia and the borders of India to Alexandria, had no less than 7,500,000 inhabitants: however, if Pomponius Mela (s) may be credited, when it was necessary, the hundred palaces in Thebes could each of them send out ten thousand armed men, or, as some say, twenty thousand; and if what Diodorus Siculus (t) affirms is true, that twenty thousand chariots used to go out from thence to war, this shows it to have been a very populous city indeed, and might well be called "populous" No; but now it is utterly destroyed, first by the Assyrians and Babylonians, then by the Persians, and last of all by the Romans; the first destruction must be here referred to, if this city is designed. Strabo (u) says in his time it was only inhabited in villages; and Juvenal (w) speaks of it as wholly lying in ruins; and Pausanias (x), making mention of it with other cities which abounded with riches, says they were reduced to the fortune of a middling private man, yea, were brought to nothing. It is now, or what is built on the spot, or near it, called Luxxor, or Lukorcen (y). Some (z) think the city Memphis is meant, so Vitringa on Isaiah 19:5. See Gill on Ezekiel 30:14, Ezekiel 30:15, this was for many ages the metropolis of all Egypt. Strabo (a) calls it a large and "populous" city, and full of men, and second to Alexandria in his time. The compass of it, when first built, was eighteen and three quarter miles (b); but now there is no more remaining of it than if there had never been such a city; nay, it is not easy to say where it once stood: now Nineveh is asked, or its inhabitants, if it could be thought that their city was in a better and safer condition than this city; it might indeed, according to the account of it by historians, and as in the prophecy of Jonah, be larger, and its inhabitants more numerous; but not better fortified, which seems to be the thing chiefly respected, as follows:

that was situate among the rivers; the canals of the river Nile:

that had the waters round about it: a moat on every side, either naturally or artificially:

whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea? which agrees with Alexandria, according to the description of it by Strabo (c), Solinus (d), and Josephus (e), which had two seas on each side of it; the Egyptian sea on the north, and the lake Mareotis on the south, as well as had the canals of the Nile running into it from various parts; and is represented as very difficult of access, through the sea, rivers, and marshy places about it; and, besides, might have a wall towards the sea, as by this account it should seem, as well as the sea itself was a wall and rampart to it: and this description may also agree with Diospolis or Thebes, which, though more inland, yet, as Bochart (f) observes, it had, as all Egypt had, the two seas, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and the canals of the Nile, which might be said to be as a rampart to it. So Isocrates (g) says of all Egypt, that it is fortified with an immortal wall, the Nile, which not only affords a defence, but sufficient food, and is insuperable and inexpugnable; nor is it unusual, as to call rivers and lakes seas, so particularly the Nile, and its canals; see Isaiah 11:15, and in the Alcoran the Nile is often called a sea (h). There is another Diospolis in Egypt, near Mendes, which, as Strabo (i) says, had lakes about it; but this, being a more obscure place, is not likely to be intended here; though Father Calmet (k) is of opinion that it is here meant; it being situated in the Delta, on one of the arms of the Nile, between Busiris to the south, and Mendes to the north. The description seems to agree better with Memphis, whose builder Uchoreus, as Diodorus Siculus (l) says, chose a very convenient place for it, where the Nile divided itself into many parts, and made the Delta, so called from its figure; and which he made wonderfully strong, after this manner: whereas the Nile flowed round the city, being built within the ancient bed of it, and at its increase would overflow it; he cast up a very great mound or rampart to the south, which was a defence against the swell of the river, and was of the use of a fortress against enemies by land; and on the other parts all about he dug a large and deep lake, which received a very great deal of the river, and filled every place about the city but where the mound (or rampart) was built, and so made it amazingly strong; whence the kings after him left Thebes, and had their palace and court here; and so Herodotus, who makes Menes to be the builder of it, says (m), that without the city he caused lakes to be dug from the river to the north, and to the west, for to the east the Nile itself bounded it; and Josephus (n), who also makes Minaeus, or Menes, the first Pharaoh, to be the builder of it, speaks of that and the sea together, as if not far off each other: now, if a city so populous, and so well fortified by art and nature, as each of these were, was taken, and its inhabitants carried captive, Nineveh could not depend on her numbers or situation for safety, which were not more or better than this.

(h) L. 2. sive Euterpe, c. 42. (i) Iliad. 9. ver. 381. (k) Vid. Mela de Situ Orbis, l. 1. c. 9. Diodor. Sicul. l. 1. p. 43. (l) Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 14, 42. Ed. Rhodoman. (m) Ibid. p. 42. (n) Geograph. l. 16. p. 561, Ed. Casaubon. (o) See the Universal History, vol. 1. p. 396. (p) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 15. (q) Ut supra, (Bibliothec. l. 1.) p. 27. (r) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 16. sect. 4. (s) De Situ Orbis, l. 1. c. 9. (t) Ut supra, (Bibliothec. l. 1.) p. 43. Vid. Homer, ut supra. (Iliad. 9. ver. 381.) (u) Ut supra. (Geograph. l. 16. p. 561, Ed. Casaubon.) (w) "Vetus Theba centum jacet obruta portis", Satyr. 15. l. 6. (x) Arcadica, sive l. 8. p. 509. Ed. Hanau. (y) Norden's Travels in Egypt and Nubia, vol. 2. p. 61, 62. (z) So Hillerus, Onomast. Sacr. p. 571, 572. & Burkius in loc. (a) Geograph. l. 17. p. 555. (b) Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 46. (c) Geograph. l. 17. p. 545. (d) Polyhistor. c. 45. (e) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 16. sect. 4. (f) Phaleg. l. 1. c. 1. col. 6, 7. (g) Busiris, p. 437. (h) Vid. Schultens in Job 14.11. (i) Geograph. l. 17. p. 551. (k) Dictionary, in the word "Diospolis". (l) Ut supra. (Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 46.) (m) Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 99. (n) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 6. sect. 2. & l. 2. c. 10. sect. 1.

Art thou better than populous {d} No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea?

(d) Meaning Alexandria, which had a compact of peace with so many nations, and yet was now destroyed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8–11. Should Nineveh expect a happier fate than No Amon?

8. Art thou better] Most naturally: shall it be (go) better with thee? shalt thou have a better fate? The sense proposed by others, art thou better placed? is also suitable to the connexion, but the form of the verb is against it.

populous No] No Amon, i.e. No of Amon (the god); in Egyptian Nu Amen. No is Thebes the capital of Upper Egypt, sacred to the god Amun. Jeremiah 46:25 threatens No of Amon and her gods. Cf. Ezekiel 30:14 seq.

among the rivers] on the Nile streams. The city lay on both sides of the Nile, but was girt about with arms or canals of the river.

rampart was the sea] i.e. the Nile. A large river or any mass of water is called “sea”; Isaiah 19:5; Job 14:11. So baḥr in Arab.

her wall was from the sea] A slight change in pointing gives, and waters were her wall (Sept.).Verses 8-13. - § 2. The ruin of Nineveh can be averted no more than was that of No-Amon. Verse 8. - Art thou better than populous No? "Better" probably means here more prosperous. "Populous No" ought to be rendered, No-Amon, i.e. No of the solar god Amon. This is the celebrated Thebes, in Upper Egypt, called in Egyptian Pa-Amun, "the House of Amun," and in the inscriptions Ni, which is the same word as No. The name Amon is attached because that god was particularly worshipped there. The LXX. has μερίδα Ἀμμών ("a portion of or for Ammon"), translating the word "No." St. Jerome, misled by his Hebrew teacher, renders, "Alexandria populorum," as if Thebes stood on the site of the much later city of Alexandria; whereas we see from Assurbanipal's annals that he was forty days marching from Memphis, where he defeated Rudammon, to Thebes (see G. Smith, 'Assurbanipal,' p. 55). On the grandeur and magnificence of this city, Denon (quoted by Rawlinson, 'Ancient Monarchies,' 1:309, note 7), writes, "On est fatigue d'ecrire, on est fatigue de lire, on est epouvante de la pensee d'une telle conception; on ne peut croire, meme apres l'avoir vu, a la realite de l'existence de tant de constructions reunies sur un meme point, a leurs dimensions, a la constance obstinee qu'a exigee leur fabrication, aux depenses incalculables de taut de somptuosite" ('Egypte,' 2:226). "In the long and rich valley of the Lower Nile, which extends above five hundred miles from Syene to Memphis, almost any situation might furnish a site for a great city, since, except at Silsilis and at the Gebelein, the valley is never less than two miles wide, the soil is always fertile, good quarries are always at hand, and lavish Nature is so bounteous with her gifts that abundant sustenance can at any point be obtained for a large population. But in this wealth of eligible sites, there are still degrees of eligibility - spots which Nature has distinguished by special favour, and, as it were, marked out for greatness and celebrity. Such a position is that which the traveller reaches when, passing through the gorge of the Gebelein, he emerges upon the magnificent plain, at least ten miles in width, through which the river flows with a course from southwest to northeast for a distance of some forty miles between Erment and Qobt. Here, for the first time since quitting the Nubian desert, does the Nile enter upon a wide and ample space. On either side the hills recede, and a broad green plain, an alluvium of the richest description, spreads itself out on both banks of the stream, dotted with dom and date palms, sometimes growing singly, sometimes collected into clumps or groves. Here, too, there open out on either side, to the east and to the west, lines of route offering great advantages for trade, on the one hand with the Lesser Oasis and so with the tribes of the African interior, on the other with the western coast of the Red Sea and the spice region of the opposite shore. In the valley of Hammamat, down which passed the ancient route to the coast, are abundant supplies of breccia verde and of other valuable and rare kinds of stone, while at no great distance to the right and left of the route lie mines of gold, silver, and lead, anciently prolific, though exhausted now for many ages. Somewhat more remote, yet readily accessible by a frequented route, was the emerald region of Gebel Zabara, where the mines are still worked" (Rawlinson, 'Ancient Egypt,' 2:124, etc.). Thebes was situated on both banks of the Nile, the principal portion lying on the east; the Necropolis and Memnonia were on the west. It seems never to have been surrounded with a wall (notwithstanding its "hundred gates"), the river and canals forming a sufficient defence. At the present time the ruins are some twenty-seven miles in circuit, including Luxor and the remains of the great temple at Karnak. The sea. The Nile formed its rampart. Great rivers are called seas in the poetical books. Thus Isaiah 19:5; Isaiah 27:1; Jeremiah 51:36. Her wall was from the sea; or, of the sea. The sea was her wall. Septuagint, ὅδωρ τὰ τείχη αὐτῆς, "water her walls." Jonah, provoked at the sparing of Nineveh, prayed in his displeasure to Jehovah to take his soul from him, as his proclamation had not been fulfilled (Jonah 4:1-3). ויּרע אל י, it was evil for Jonah, i.e., it vexed, irritated him, not merely it displeased him, for which ירע בּעיניו is generally used. The construction with אל resembles that with ל in Nehemiah 2:10; Nehemiah 13:8. רעה גדולה, "a great evil," serves simply to strengthen the idea of ירע. The great vexation grew even to anger (יחר לו; cf. Genesis 30:2, etc.). The fact that the predicted destruction of Nineveh had not taken place excited his discontent and wrath. And he tried to quarrel with God, by praying to Jehovah.

(Note: Calvin observes upon this: "He prayed in a tumult, as if reproving God. We must necessarily recognise a certain amount of piety in this prayer of Jonah, and at the same time many faults. There was so far piety in it, that he directed his complaints to God. For hypocrites, even when they address God, are nevertheless hostile to Him. But Jonah, when he complains, although he does not keep within proper bounds, but is carried away by a blind and vicious impulse, is nevertheless prepared to submit himself to God, as we shall presently see. This is the reason why he is said to have prayed.")

"Alas (אנּא as in Jonah 1:14), Jehovah, was not this my word (i.e., did I not say so to myself) when I was still in my land (in Palestine)?" What his word or his thought then was, he does not say; but it is evident from what follows: viz., that Jehovah would not destroy Nineveh, if its inhabitants repented. ‛Al-kēn, therefore, sc. because this was my saying. קדּמתּי, προέφθασα, I prevented to flee to Tarshish, i.e., I endeavoured, by a flight to Tarshish, to prevent, sc. what has now taken place, namely, that Thou dost not fulfil Thy word concerning Nineveh, because I know that thou art a God gracious and merciful, etc. (compare Exodus 34:6 and Exodus 32:14, as in Joel 2:13). The prayer which follows, "Take my life from me," calls to mind the similar prayer of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:4; but the motive assigned is a different one. Whilst Elijah adds, "for I am not better than my fathers," Jonah adds, "for death is better to me than life." This difference must be distinctly noticed, as it brings out the difference in the state of mind of the two prophets. In the inward conflict that had come upon Elijah he wished for death, because he did not see the expected result of his zeal for the Lord of Sabaoth; in other words, it was from spiritual despair, caused by the apparent failure of his labours. Jonah, on the other hand, did not wish to live any longer, because God had not carried out His threat against Nineveh. His weariness of life arose, not like Elijah's from stormy zeal for the honour of God and His kingdom, but from vexation at the non-fulfilment of his prophecy. This vexation was not occasioned, however, by offended dignity, or by anxiety or fear lest men should regard him as a liar or babbler (ψευδοεπής τε καὶ βωμολόχος, Cyr. Al.; ψεύστης, Theodoret; vanus et mendax, Calvin and others); nor was he angry, as Calvin supposes, because he associated his office with the honour of God, and was unwilling that the name of God should be exposed to the scoffing of the heathen, quasi de nihilo terreret, or "because he saw that it would furnish material for impious blasphemies if God changed His purpose, or if He did not abide by His word;" but, as Luther observes (in his remarks on Jonah's flight), "he was hostile to the city of Nineveh, and still held a Jewish and carnal view of God" (for the further development of this view, see the remarks above, at p. 265). That this was really Jonah's view, is proved by Luther from the fact that God reproves his displeasure and anger in these words, "Should I not spare Nineveh?" etc. (Jonah 4:11). "He hereby implies that Jonah was displeased at the fact that God had spared the city, and was angry because He had not destroyed it as he had preached, and would gladly have seen." Offended vanity or unintelligent zeal for the honour of God would have been reproved by God in different terms from those in which Jonah was actually reproved, according to the next verse (Jonah 4:4), where Jehovah asks the prophet, "Is thine anger justly kindled?" היטב is adverbial, as in Deuteronomy 9:21; Deuteronomy 13:15, etc., bene, probe, recte, δικαίως (Symm.).

Then Jonah went out of Nineveh, sat down on the east of the city, where Nineveh was bounded by the mountains, from which he could overlook the city, made himself a hut there, and sat under it in the shade, till he saw what would become of the city, i.e., what fate would befal it (Jonah 4:5). This verse is regarded by many commentators as a supplementary remark, ויּצא, with the verbs which follow, being rendered in the pluperfect: "Jonah had gone out of the city," etc. We grant that this is grammatically admissible, but it cannot be shown to be necessary, and is indeed highly improbable. If, for instance, Jonah went out of Nineveh before the expiration of the forty days, to wait for the fulfilment of his prophecy, in a hut to the east of the city, he could not have been angry at its non-fulfilment before the time arrived, nor could God have reproved him for his anger before that time. The divine correction of the dissatisfied prophet, which is related in Jonah 4:6-11, cannot have taken place till the forty days had expired. But this correction is so closely connected with Jonah's departure from the city and settlement to the east of it, to wait for the final decision as to its fate (Jonah 4:5), that we cannot possibly separate it, so as to take the verbs in Jonah 4:5 as pluperfects, or those in Jonah 4:6-11 as historical imperfects. There is no valid ground for so forced an assumption as this. As the expression ויּרע אל יונה in Jonah 4:1, which is appended to ולא עשׁה in Jonah 3:10, shows that Jonah did not become irritated and angry till after God had failed to carry out His threat concerning Nineveh, and that it was then that he poured out his discontent in a reproachful prayer to God (Jonah 4:2), there is nothing whatever to force us to the assumption that Jonah had left Nineveh before the fortieth day.

(Note: There is no hold in the narrative for Marck's conjecture, that God had already communicated to him His resolution not to destroy Nineveh, because of the repentance of the people, and that this was the reason for his anger.)

Jonah had no reason to be afraid of perishing with the city. If he had faith, which we cannot deny, he could rely upon it that God would not order him, His own servant, to perish with the ungodly, but when the proper time arrived, would direct him to leave the city. But when forty days elapsed, and nothing occurred to indicate the immediate or speedy fall of the city, and he was reproved by God for his anger on that account in these words, "Art thou rightly or justly angry?" the answer from God determined him to leave the city and wait outside, in front of it, to see what fate would befal it. For since this answer still left it open, as a possible thing, that the judgment might burst upon the city, Jonah interpreted it in harmony with his own inclination, as signifying that the judgment was only postponed, not removed, and therefore resolved to wait in a hut outside the city, and watch for the issue of the whole affair.

(Note: Theod. Mops. correctly observes, that "when he reflected upon the greatness of the threat, he imagined that something might possibly occur after all." And Calvin better still, that "although forty days had passed, Jonah stood as if fastened to the spot, because he could not yet believe that what he had proclaimed according to the command of God would fail to be effected .... This was the cause, therefore, of his still remaining, viz., because he thought, that although the punishment from God had been suspended, yet his preaching had surely not been in vain, but the destruction of the city would take place. This was the reason for his waiting on after the time fixed, as though the result were still doubtful.")

But his hope was disappointed, and his remaining there became, quite contrary to his intention, an occasion for completing his correction.

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