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10 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul;
The deep was round about me;
The earth with its bars closed upon me for ever:
I will pay that which I have vowed. When Jonah had learned his lesson of obedience he was cast forth and found himself in a place of safety.
A second opportunity is given the prophet to deliver his message of warning to the heathen city, the non-Hebrew world. Here again the experience of the sailors is repeated. The city repents, turns to Jehovah, and is saved. God changed for them as he had changed for Israel when Israel turned to him from the depths of the exile.
"And the word of Jehovah 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 Jehovah. Now 5 Nineveh was an exceeding great city, three days' journey
across. And Jonah entered into the city a day's journey, and he cried and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”
And the people of Nineveh believed his warning; and they Io proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest
of them even to the least of them. And the tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in
ashes. And he made proclamation and published through 15 Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, “Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let · them not feed, nor drink water; but let them be covered with
* If the reader will bear in mind the figurative character of the story he will not be troubled by the peculiarities of this description, in view of the supposed situation.
* Jonah 3:1-10.
3 Sackcloth, a fast, sat in ashes: all signs of mourning. Sackcloth was a coarse cloth which irritated the skin and was worn especially as a symbol of repentance and self-punishment.
sackcloth, both man and beast, and let them cry mightily unto
God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from 20 the violence that is in his hands. Who knoweth whether
God will not 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 which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not.
The argument of the situation is made clear by the last chapter. Jonah does not understand. He maintains that he had from the start no confidence in Jehovah's promise to punish Nineveh and that was the reason for declining to deliver the message. Now his reputation as a prophet is ruined; he prays to die. Jehovah through a simple object-lesson teaches him the gospel of mercy and forgiveness.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed unto Jehovah, and said, “I pray thee, o Jehovah, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my
country? Therefore I hasted to flee unto Tarshish; for I 5 knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O Jehovah, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” And
Jehovah said, “Art thou very angry?” Then Jonah went 10 out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there
made him a booth,3 and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.
And Jehovah God prepared a gourd, 4 and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to de15 liver him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceeding glad
because of the gourd. But God prepared a worm next day in the early morning, and it smote the gourd, so that it withered.
* Note that cattle are represented as able to share in the miraculous change of heart of the city of Nineveh.
Jonah 4:1-11. 3 Booth: a shelter from the tropical sun.
* Gourd: A plant or vine common in tropical countries which grows to enormous size very rapidly, but not so rapidly as to render the story other than that of a miracle.
à touching reator of wid, in wh
And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared
a sultry east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, so 20 that he was faint, and requested that he might die, saying,
“It is better for me to die than to live.” And God said to Jonah, “Art thou very angry on account of the gourd ?” And he said, “I am exceedingly angry, even unto death.” And
Jehovah said, “Thou hast had regard for the gourd, for which 25 thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came
up in a night, and perished in a night; and should not I have regard for Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle ?”
“More simply, as something quite self-evident, and therefore more sublimely and touchingly, the truth was never told in the Old Testament that God as creator of the whole earth must also be the God and Father of the entire world, in whose loving, kind, and fatherly heart all men are equal, before whom there is no difference of nation and confession, but only men whom he has created in his own image.” Shall not the God who made all men care for all men ?
"Look unto me, and be ye saved,
For I am God, and there is none else." This seems a simple view of God to us who have so long accepted the thought of human brotherhood, and divine fatherhood. But few of us know or think of the long process by which the chains of ignorance and idolatry were shaken off and the idea of God, one, universal, all-powerful, all-loving, emerged from the darkness, took possession of the human heart, and fired the imagination of great souls the world over. Truth comes slowly, and the greater the truth the larger the preparation necessary.
Even at this point our chain is incomplete, for we have made no mention of the prophet of Nazareth, but our task like that of the Hebrew nation was to prepare the way for larger truth, whether from the lips of Hebrew or Gentile. We therefore leave our study here, content if those heroic men, whose names and a few of whose words and deeds these pages record, stand forth as living men with a message to humanity as well as to their own times and people.
To us as to men of old in our search for truth comes the assurance, “Jehovah thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren. Unto him shall ye hearken.” And how shall we recognize the prophets of our own day? Only by the test of time. Today as yesterday, and in all the past, he who would bring a message from God through science or art or literature, philosophy or religion must be content to wait for the passing years to testify to the truth of his words, but no true prophet will on this account be deterred from giving that message, no matter how difficult a task it may be.