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13. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land ; but I they could not : for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.
14. Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, 2 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.
15. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea : and the sea ceased from her raging.
16. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and 3 offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.
1 Prov. 21:30. 2 Gen. 9:6. Rom. 2:15. 3 Ps. 116:16-18; 69: 30, 31. punishment of his iniquity” (Lev. 26:41, 43). So shall the sea be calm unto you. He fied as a man; he exposed himself to death as a prophet. — Chrysostom. I know that for my sake. “Was the Lord angry against the rivers? or was thine anger against the floods? or was thy wrath against the sea?” No; it was against the sin of Jonah that all this came as vengeance, and that God so sent his messengers of wrath and of displeasure. – Abbott.
OTHERS SHARED HIS RUIN. Let him who is nobody's enemy but his own, whose doings are nobody's business, remember that others besides themselves suffered for the disobedience of Jonah, and Achan, and David (2 Sam. 24), and that because ten men were lacking Sodom was destroyed. — B.
III. Disobedience is Helpless. - Vers. 13-15. The very elements war against him. Confession had not availed. Prayer had not availed. Friendly effort did not avail.
13. Nevertheless the men rowed hard. They answered selfishness by unselfishness (Prov. 27: 19).
Be noble, and the nobleness that lies in other men
Sleeping, but never dead, will rise in majesty to meet thine own. - Lowell. When I consider the hindrance to their journey, the loss of their wares, the endangering of their lives, and his unworthiness, I can but observe their marvellous offwardness and unwill. ingness to the shedding of blood. — Abbott. Rowed hard. Literally, “ digged with the oars.” “Broke through the waves.” They could not row in good and orderly manner, but they desperately tugged at the oars, which the towering waves rendered useless. Sinners, tossed upon the sea of conviction, make desperate efforts to save themselves. — Spurgeon. It is hard for the soul to drop its dependence on works and forms, and simply obey God. — B. They could not. Wind and tide — God's displeasure and God's counsel — were against them. And against them God will be so long as the offending sinner shall rest with them. – Abbott. Works did not avail.
14. And said, We beseech thee. The energy which they have put into their work goes into their prayer. The prayer is now to the Lord. Doubtless while they were rowing Jonah was praying. Let us not perish. Without the law, they knew by nature that the blood of inan was precious in God's sight. — Calvin. For this man's life. That is, in exchange for, or for taking it away. — Perowne. Lay not upon us innocent blood. “Do not impute his death to us as blood-guiltiness deserving death.” They were less foolhardy than the Jews (Matt. 27: 25). For thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee. This is no doing of ours. That Jonah betook himself to this ship, that the tempest was rised, that Jonah was taken by lot, that he passed this sentence upon himself, all comes of thy will. - Rosenmuller. More than heathen fatalism, - a recognition of an overruling providence. — Raleigh. They pray thus, not because they have no true conception of Jonah's guilt, but because they dare not lay hand upon the Almighty's prophet (Ps. 105:15). - Keil.
15. They took up Jonah. Lifted with respect. And cast him forth. Every effort had failed. The sea ceased from her raging. God spares the prayerful penitent. A truth illustrated now by the sailors, presently by Jonah, thirdly by Nineveh. — Pocket Com. Ceased. “Stood still,” like a servant. Raging. “ Anger," as in Ovid and Horace. And thus died Jonah. To them, at least, thus died Jonah, a criminal pursued by justice, yet a repentant and righteous man, in death triumphing over death. Here would the mariner's story end; the story does not thus end. Beneath the surface is deliverance, forgiveness, marvels of grace and prayer, and love and joy, and communion with God. — Martin.
IV. Unmerited Mercy. - Vers. 16, 17. 16. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly. Yet God had removed all human cause for fear. It was the fear which made
17. Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish 1 three days and three nights.
1 Matt. 12:40; 16:4. Luke 11:30.
Peter pray, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” It was the fear which came upon Israel when God's power was manifested in Pharaoh's host. Offered a sacrifice. On board ship. That merchantman would undoubtedly have animals suited for sacrifice. This, however, was not enough for their thankfulness, and they made vows. “Vowed vows” of further sacrifice on their safe arrival. – Keil. They were doubtless enrolled among God's people, first fruits from among the heathen, won to God, who overrules all things, through the disobedience and repentance of his prophet. — Pusey.
17. And, having now humbled Jonah, God intended hereafter to employ him anew in his service, and send him to Nineveh to perform the very work from which he had so shamefully run away. He prepared for him, therefore, a temporary but safe lodging, a lodging such as had never been occupied by living man before. - Exell. As appears from his thanksgiving, he sank first to the bottom of the sea, where he seemed already buried. Pusey. The Lord had prepared. That is, assigned or appointed (see chap. 4:6, 7, 8). Creation for the purpose is not implied. A great fish. The Greek of the Septuagint, which our Lord quoted (Matt. 12:40), is a generic term applying to any great fish. It was not a whale, which is extremely rare in the Mediterranean, but a shark or sea-dog. We have it on authority of Couch, Darwin, and others, that the formation of the jaws and throat renders it easy for the white shark (carcharias vulgaris, sometimes 36 feet long), to swallow enormous objects, and that they not unfrequently cast up their prey whole and alive. Blumenbach mentions a whole horse found in one; Ruysch, a man in armor; and Dr. Baird, of the British Museum, saw one swallow a bullock's head and horns. Entire men have been found in the stomachs of these creatures. - Dr. Crosby. See also Pusey, Smith's Bible Dictionary, et al. — B. There were in the sea fishes enough to serve the turn, and the Lord had one of them at hand to fulfil the design. The sun, the earth, angels, noisome insects, the Red Sea, a king's daughter, the jaw-bone of an ass, — so admirable is the Lord in the assistance of his saints that one thing or another shall be borne to do them good in their bitter extremity, as if made only for that. - Abbott. It is impossible to explain these facts by natural means. - Geikie. Three days and three nights. At this point the transaction becomes clearly miraculous. The swallowing of Jonah by the fish may have been in the course of the ordinary working of divine providence. His preservation within it for so long a time plainly belongs to that other working of Almighty God which, though it be no less after the counsel of that will which is the highest and only law, appears to us extraordinary, and which we therefore call miraculous. — Perowne. Tradition has marked the place of Jonah's escape from the fish on the shore north of Sidon, and not far south of the river Tamyras. — Howard Crosby.
LIBRARY REFERENCES. Among the best Commentaries on the minor prophets are those of Canon Cook, Keil, and Delitzsch, Henderson, Pusey, and Cowles. The writers on Jonah are many, including Archbishop Abbott, Archdeacon Perowne (in Cambridge Bible), R. A. Redford, H. Martin, A. Raleigh, J. S. Exell, and Dr. Fairbairn; Sermons are found in Payson's and in Spurgeon's (series eighth); The Sunday School Times for May 5, 1877, has some excellent articles on Jonah; on Nineveh and the chronology, see Rawlinson's Ancient Monarchies, 21: 176, and Layard's Discoveries in Nineveh, 98. LESSONS FROM THE DISOBEDIENCE OF JONAH.
1. God often gives his servants hard and disagreeable work to do. The harder the work, the greater the honor conferred in assigning the task.
2. It is impossible to succeed in running away from God and duty.
3. The way of attempted escape is the way to punishment. The angel of death stood by Solomon, and looked sharply at one of his servants. The frightened man begged to be sent to India. Then the angel said to Solomon, “I was surprised to find that man here, for I was bidden to take his life in India.”
4. Sin always raises a storm.
8. “See how the tempest finds God's runaway; the lot binds him, the sea receives him, the beast encloses him.”
9. All the forces of nature of every kind are under the control of God.
10. True repentance leads us to accept the consequences of our wrong-doing so far as not to let them fall on others. 11. God's servants are of like passions with other men.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. This chapter is so full of positive teaching as to forbid much lingering over trivial speculations upon open questions, — Jonah's parentage, the kind of fish, the exact date. If the question arises, Is it to be regarded as a veritable history? very probably the internal evidence and geographical allusions, references in Scripture and history, and certain typical foreshadowings of the Messiah, are to your own mind conclusive proofs of the literal view; yet if another mind more satisfactorily grasps the allegorical view, time will be less profitably spent in argument than insisting upon the great truths which, from the allegorical view, are the only object of the Book of Jonah. Deferring, too, our Lord's use of the story, and the interesting study of types (Israel charged with the conversion of the heathen, proudly refusing and sadly repenting), we find lessons intensely practical for Christians, who find in success a temptation to choose their own place and method.
SUBJECT, - THE WAY OF DISOBEDIENCE.
I. JONAH GOES DOWNWARD (vers. 1-3). (1) By one act of disobedience his whole moral standard is lowered, like a mill-pond with a broken dam. He loses too (2) in purse. He must travel at his own charge when he goes away from God. (3) In company. He to whom God has spoken is herding with a motley crew of alien unbelievers.
II. JONAH GOES STUPIDLY (vers. 4-6). Genuine goodness is not stupid. The Holy Spirit quickens and enlarges all the faculties. On the contrary, nothing is so bewildering, so stupefying, so exhausting as sin. God himself calls the sinner" fool.”
III. JONAH GOES IN DISGRACE (vers. 7-10). Picture the solemn scene of the lot. Jonah's in difference, it may be, until he finds the guilt coming home to him, or catches a glimpse of his comrades' horror. Then it dawns upon him that he, this eminently respectable and useful man, is standing before the gaze of God and the world, a shivering, sinful soul, and he sees his secret sin set in the light of God's countenance. He has come where every man must come, to a judgment day.
IV. JONAH GOES TO DESTRUCTION (vers. 11-15) and involves others in ruin. Neither penitence, nor honest confession, nor good works, nor friendly sympathy, has power to remit the penalty of a broken law.
illustration. Many families are suffering in health or estate, the consequence of a reformed man's former errors.
In the sailors' futile efforts we have a striking example of that misdirected zeal which sets works or self-denial in the place of simple obedience.
Illustration. A picture of self-righteous undertaking is found in the old myths of the daughters of Danaüs, who were always filling a bottomless tub from leaky buckets. — Spurgeon.
V. JONAH A WARNING (ver. 16). He who has lost the opportunity of calling his heathen comrades to repentance has been put to shame by their prayers, vigilance, and unselfishness, and failing conspicuously in his duty as example, he now becomes a dreadful warning against disobedience.
VI. SCARCELY SAVED (ver. 17). Where then shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
LESSON VII. — Nov. 15. EFFECT OF JONAH'S PREACHING. — JONAH 3: 1-10. GOLDEN TEXT. — The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall comdemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas ; and behold, a greater than Jonas is here. — LUKE 11:32.
TIME AND AUTHOR. -- See Lesson VI.
ASSYRIA. — This great country, lying about the Tigris and Euphrates, receives geographical mention in Gen. 10: 14; but does not enter Jewish history until the 8th century B.C. At one time it held sway from the Mediterranean to the Caspian, from the Persian Gulf to Armenia. In Jonah's time it was the great object of men's thoughts and fears. Geikie. The fall of Assyria, prophesied by Isaiah (Isa. 10:5-19), was effected by the growing strength and boldness of the Medes, about B.C. 625.
NINEVEH. — The capital of Assyria. It was situated on the Tigris, and was founded by Asshur (Gen. 10:11; marginal, Nimrod). It was to Western Asia what the Paris of Louis XIV. was to Europe: not to imitate it was to be provincial. — Geikie. Against its luxury and corruption the prophets testify, — Isaiah, Jonah, Nahum, and Zephaniah. Rawlinson fixes the date of its downfall, 625; Layard, 606 B.C. A great flood in the Tigris undermined the wall (Nahum 2:6). The king, Sardanapalus VII., after a stout defence against his enemies, destroyed himself with his wives and treasures. So completely did it fall into decay before the historic era, that no trustworthy ancient description of it or its monuments is found. The ruins of Nineveh. — The city may almost be said to stand before us again in the light of the remains restored by modern discovery. – H. B. Hackelt. Excavations made by Layard, Botta, and others, have revealed buildings, obelisks, sculptures, colossal figures, pottery, ornaments, cylinders, seals. Many inscriptions have come to light, including whole libraries of baked clay cylinders and stone tablets. All these discoveries of things hidden for ages confirm the Bible. Religion. — A sort of star or sun-god worship; like the religion of all of Western Asia, it was profoundly gross and sensual. Their chief divinity was the deified patriarch, Asshur. Character. - The race was warlike, cruel, treacherous, proud, and insolent.
INTRODUCTION. We know little of the three days and nights of darkness which Jonah spent after he was swallowed by the fish; but we are told he prayed (Jonah 2:1). Doubtless, like Saul of Tarsus, he meditated much, repented much, proposed future obedience, adored God with wondering awe. - Pusey. Every place may serve as an oratory. No place is amiss for prayer. – Pocket Com. After three days and three nights Jonah was cast by the fish, alive and uninjured, upon the shore. Not long after, the call of God came the second time to Jonah to go to Nineveh. This time he obeyed.
I. And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2. Arise, go unto 1 Nineveh, that great city, ” and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
1 Gen. 12 : 14; 25: 18. Num. 24: 22. Ps. 83:8. ? Mark 16: 15; 13:11.
EXPLANATORY. I. The Prophet Restored. — Vers. 1-4. 1. The word of the Lord came. Probably by an internal impulse. - Todd. The second time. The first time he disobeyed the word of the Lord. Now, humbled, repentant, he is much better fitted to do the work appointed him. God gave to Jonah what he often withholds from others, - a second opportunity to perform a neglected duty. – Keil. Like St. Peter (John 21:15-17), Jonah is not only forgiven, but restored to his office, and receives anew his commission. — Perowne. As St. Peter was the first Christian apostle to the Gentiles, so Jonah may be called the Old Testament apostle to the Gentiles. He had new qualifications; he knew the sinfulness of sin and the depths of forgiveness. He had formed new habits of prayer; he had experienced a sanctified affliction. — B. He shall best preach salvation who has known his own need of it. The result of Jonah's experience under trouble was, Salvation is of the Lord (2:9).- Spurgeon.
2. Unto Nineveh (see Introduction), that great city. It was at that time the greatest city in the known world. It exceeded Babylon in extent and in population; and according to the account here given of it, had more inhabitants than Rome in later times. We judge this from the number (60,000) of infants there were then within its walls, and for whose sake the Lord spared the city. — Lewis. That great city. Calvin explains this repeated expression as intended to prepare Jonah for the magnitude of the task before him. But perhaps the true key is to be found in Jonah 4: 11, where the same expression occurs as an argument for God's compassion. — Perowne. One's only comfort in reading the daily reports of crime, or stories of brutal war among far-off nations, is the thought that God knows all about them all, and will surely appear for them at the right moment. Preach unto it the preaching. “Cry to it the crying.” That I bid thee. Unconditional obedience is required.
3. So Jonah larose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three 2 days' journey.
4. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he 3 cried, and said, Yet 4 forty days, and Nineveh shall be 5 overthrown.
5. So the people of 6 Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed ' a fast, and put on sackcloth, 8 from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 11:3. Matt. 21:28, 29. ? Luke 2:44. 3 Isa. 58:1. John 7:37. Gen. 7:4. Mark 1:13.
Luke 13:5. John 3: 18. Acts 16:31. Rom. 4: 4. 7 Ezra 8:21. Rom. 3: 23. 3. So Jonah arose, and went. As ready to obey, as before to disobey. - Pusey. “ A living exemplification of God's judgment and mercy.” Unto Nineveh. A journey of several weeks. According to the word of the Lord. A good motto for every teacher. An exceeding great city. Literally, “great city to God.” A Hebrew form of expression, equivalent to an intense superlative. The Hebrews associated all greatness with God (comp. Ps. 36:6; 80: 10). Three days' journey. About 60 miles. This must refer to the circumference of the city and not to the length. Two ancient historians have described Nineveh as 50 miles in circumference, and surrounded with a wall so thick that six chariots could be driven abreast upon its top, and having 15,000 towers, each nearly 240 feet in height. These statements have been supposed to be gross exaggerations,
present indications are that the statements of these historians are not altogether unworthy of respect. Four great heaps of ruins, two of them 20 miles apart, have been explored; and there has been much discussion as to which of them represents Nineveh. The latest tendency of scholars is toward the belief that they were different palaces included within the same city limits. Rawlinson himself admits that all the ruins may have formed part of " that group of cities which in the time of the prophet Jonah was known by the common name of Nineveh.” The circumference of the area within which these heaps of ruins lie is nearly 60 miles; this exactly corresponds with the statement of Diodorus Siculus, that the circuit of the walls was nearly 60 miles. — Todd.
4. And Jonah began to enter into the city. He must have been the subject of strange and conflicting emotions, when he entered the gates of that proud city. The wealth and luxury, the pleasure and wickedness, on every hand, must have amazed and perplexed the prophet, conscious of his utter loneliness amidst a mighty population, of his despicable poverty amidst abounding riches, of his rough and foreign aspect amidst a proud and polished community: there was enough to shake his faith. Yet he dared not a second time abandon his mission. — Blackburn. He was but the voice of one crying in the wild waste of a city of violence. It was indeed to “beard the lion in his den” (Nahum 2:11). A day's journey. Hither and thither, as far as was possible, the first day, — Maurer. A day's journey was reckoned by the Jews at 20 miles. At first glance, the meaning would seem to be, that Nineveh was three days' journey, or 60 miles, in diameter ; and that the prophet penetrated into it one day's journey, or 20 miles, or one-third of the way through it. İt is not necessary, however, to take “one day's journey," in this verse, as the ordinary measure of distance. It means merely, that Jonah journeyed into the city for one day. Preaching as he went, and hindered by the crowds and excitement caused by that preaching, he would necessarily make but slow progress, and accomplish but a small distance one day.
- Todd. Cried, and said. A personification of wisdom (Prov. I: 20). He delivered his message openly, fearlessly, emphatically. His utterance, like that of the wild preacher in the last days of the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, is one piercing cry from street to street and square to square. It reaches at last the king on his throne of state. The remorse for the wrong and robbery and violence of many generations is awakened. — Stanley. Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. Day after day he stood and preached that terrible word of the Lord. Ah! the Jonah who at last went to Nineveh was a glorious man, a sublime man, a giant in moral stature, and should fully atone in our regard for all the defects of the Jonah who did not go at first, and who afterward exhibited human weakness. - Twitchell. Nineveh shall be overthrown. No hint was given of the means. On the one hand the warning was more incredible, but on the other hand it was more appalling and effective, for this mystery. - Todd. It is observed of men, that they are long in making anything, but very quick in marring of it. Only God is quick in making, but pauseth upon destroying. – Abbott. The words came with unusual force, at this time, when rebellion was chronic in many provinces, and conquest was for the time giving way to defence. — Geikie. II. The People Repentant. — Vers. 5-9. 5. Believed God. Different nations