« PreviousContinue »
evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon
Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us: what is thine оссираtion? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?
And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD the GOD of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? for the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD; because he had told them.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought and was tempestuous.
And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you; for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.
Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.
Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah and cast him forth into the sea and the sea ceased from her raging.
Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his GOD out of the fish's belly.
And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Jonah lived in the kingdom of Israel in the reigns of Jehoash and Jeroboam the second.
Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, at the time Jonah was sent thither, was one of the largest and most ancient cities in the world; supposed to have been built by Nimrod not long after the flood, and very soon after the tower of Babel; but afterwards greatly enlarged by Ninus, from whom it received its name. This city was situated upon the banks of the Tigris, and (according to learned authors) was in length about twenty-one miles, nine broad, and fifty-four round; it was surrounded with stately walls, and fortified with lofty towers, and is thought to have contained six hundred thousand persons.
The excuse which Jonah made for disobeying the Divine command, and endeavouring to fly from the presence of the LORD, was, that he apprehended the LORD would through his infinite mercy and goodness, change his purpose in respect to Nineveh, and that then his prophet's predictions would be regarded as fictitious, and involve him in disgrace, if not in destruction. It certainly was very sinful in Jonah to think thus, as he might have been certain the LORD would do what was right, and that, however he dealt with the Ninevites, he would protect his prophet. It pleased the LORD, therefore, to inflict such a punishment as should convince Jonah of his error, strengthen his faith, and give him credit with the world, who would be ready to listen to one that had been so wonderfully preserved.
Whether the fish which swallowed up Jonah, was & whale or not, is uncertain. Many travellers describe some of this species, which they had seen, sufficiently large to swallow a man: and informs us of various seamonsters beside, of most enormous size. Jonah's situation in the belly of the fish must have been very dreadful. The relation of his being kept alive in such a place would be perfectly incredible if we endeavoured to account for it in a natural way; but if we impute it to the miraculous power of GoD, it is no longer so: for as we are able, with our limited capacities, to apply the creatures to our use in such a variety of ways, it can not be unreasonable to suppose that the GREAT CREATOR can do with them whatsoever seemeth good in his sight. Those infidels, who disbelieve the Scriptures, turn such relations as this into ridicule; but we shall do well in avoiding the society of such impious persons. Let us read these edifying histories with attention, and learn from them to reverence the SUPREME BEING, the LORD of all nature.
JONAH SENT AGAIN TO NINEVEH.
From Chap. iii, iv.
AND the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days journey.
And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried and said, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
So the people of Nineveh believed GOD, and preclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
And he caused it to be proclaimed, and published through Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock taste any thing; let them not feed, nor drink water.
But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto Gov: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way: and God repented of the evil that he would do unto them, and he did it not.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious GOD, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die, than to live.
Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry? 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.
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 exceedingly glad of the gourd.
But GoD prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
And it came to pass when the sun.did arise, that Gon prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for thee which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
And should not I spare Nineveh that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons, that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle?
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The behaviour of the Ninevites was, on this occasion, exemplary in the highest degree; and it is mentioned by our Saviour himself in the New Testament*, to the reproach of Israel. We may learn from the happy effects of it, that public fasting and humiliation for national sin are pleasing to the LORD: not that He re quires his creatures to be afflicted, any farther than may be conducive to their reformation, and to render them objects of his mercy and loving-kindness.
*Matth. xii. 41.-Luke xi. 32.