« AnteriorContinuar »
6. For word came unto the 1 king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in 2 ashes.
7. 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 :
1 Jer. 13: 18. 2 Esther 4:1. Job 2:8. Ezek. 26: 16. so far respected each other's religion, that there is nothing at all improbable in the acceptance, by the Ninevites, of the preaching of a strange prophet (comp. 1 Kings 20: 23–26; 2 Kings 5: 3-5; 8:7-10; 16: 10-15). — Todd. It was not necessary to the effect of his preaching, that Jonah should be of the religion of Nineveh. I have known a Christian priest frighten a whole Mussulman town to tears and repentance by publicly proclaiming that he had received a divine commission to announce a coming earthquake or plague. — Layard. Three things their faith certainly embraced. They believed in the God of the Hebrews, as the true God. They believed in his power to execute the threat which he had held out. They believed in his mercy and willingness to forgive the penitent. “So great faith" had not been found, " no, not in Israel." — Perowne. Their consciences responded to the charge of guilt. Remorse for the wrong and robbery and violence of many generations was awakened. — Stanley. “A sense of God filled the city.” Proclaimed á fast. It seems to be in all ages and nations the natural expression of mourning and repentance (see Joel 2). In this case, the people were first impressed, and then their rulers. The tide of peni. tence rose higher and higher, till it included the court, and what had been done spontaneously or by local authority, received the sanction of government. — Perowne.
6. Word came unto. The matter reached. The king of Nineveh. It is impossible, at this time, to declare unerringly this king's name. According to George Smith, in his Chaldean account of Genesis, Rimmon Nirari was king of Nineveh about this time. Probably Sardanapalus. — Todd. The king believed Jonah to be a minister from the Supreme Deity of the nation. - Layard. He had heard of his wonderful deliverance. — Dean Jackson. The kings of Assyria were religious according to their light : they ascribed all victories to their god, Asshur. And when this one came to hear of One who had a might such as he had not seen, he believed in him. — Pusey. He arose from his throne. With haste. The thrones, or arm-chairs, supported by animals and human figures, resemble those of the ancient Egyptians. They remind us of the throne of Solomon (1 Kings 10 : 19, 20).Layard. His robe. The same word is used of Achan's “goodly Babylonish garment," which this may have resembled. But it is also used of Elijah's hairy “ mantle," or cloak. The root-meaning is size, amplitude. — Perowne. In one bas-relief, the dress of a king consisted of a long, flowing garment, edged with fringes and tassels, descending to his ankles, and confined at the waist by a girdle, and over this a second, similarly ornamented and open in front. From his shoulders fell a cape or hood, also adorned with tassels, and two long ribbons or lappets. He wore the conical mitre, or tiara, which distinguishes the monarch in Assyrian bas-reliefs. Around his neck was a necklace. He wore ear-rings, and his bare arms were encircled by armlets and bracelets remarkable for the beauty of their forms.Layard. Sackcloth. A coarse, dark cloth, made of goats' hair, used for mourning. Ashes. Emblem of the deepest humiliation. This is the more remarkable both because of his characteristic pride as “the great king” (2 Kings 18:19, 28), and because of his ordinary pomp and luxury. No greater contrast could well be conceived than between the royal “ robe" and “sackcloth," or between the heap of “ashes" and the king's “throne.” – Perowne.
7. Wherever the prophet's cry had reached the king's proclamation followed. Proclaimed and published. Made public. The decree. The word here used is not properly a Hebrew word. It occurs frequently in the Chaldee of Daniel and Ezra to denote a mandate of the Babylonish and Persian monarchs. -- Perowne. Its use is a proof of Jonah's accuracy as a writer. — Pusey. And his nobles. His great men (comp. the decree of Darius, Dan. 6:7). Apparently, a voluntary act on the king's part, that the nobles were associated with him in his edict, for we know from the monuments and from history that the Assyrian monarch was a thorough Eastern despot, unchecked by popular opinion. - Layard. Man nor beast, herd nor flock. The Hebrew word for “ beast” here means tame or domestic animals. “Herd and flock” is an additional clause. The covering with sackcloth is thus confined to those animals which were in man's more immediate use, and had
8. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and a cry mightily unto God: yea, 3 let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the 4 violence that is 5 in their hands.
9. 6 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God 7 repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. 1 Gen. 6:7. : Rev. 18:2. 3 Isa. 55:7. Ezek. 33:11. Nahum 3:1. 5 Ps. 7: 3. Joel 2:14.
Ps. 106:45. Jer. 18:7-10.
been the ministers of his pomp and pride, or the instruments of his “ violence." — Perowne. Let them not feed, nor drink water. The cattle were not driven to pasture. They probably fasted each day “until the evening.” Man's fall brought misery on unoffending ani. mals (Gen. 1: 26, 28), and their destiny is inseparably connected with his (Rom. 8: 20, 22).
8. Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. This fast has probably no exact parallel in history. Yet in all ages men have been wont to extend the outward signs of their joy or sorrow to everything under their control, - dress, equipage, etc. The gorgeous caparison of horses, mules, and camels was part of the Eastern magnificence. Men forget how, at the funerals of the rich, black horses are chosen, and are clothed with black velvet. — Pusey. When the Persian general Masistias was slain, the horses and mules of the Persians were shorn as well as themselves. And cry mightily unto God (Hosea 6:1). “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" The Ninevites felt that the cry of the poor brutes would be heard by God. That judgment was confirmed by God, who assigns the much cattle (Jonah 4:11) as a ground for pity. — Pusey. Cry ... turn. Prayer without reformation is a mockery of God. Neither is there true reformation without prayer. Let them turn. The prominence of the moral element in this repentance is very striking, and to this it was that God had respect, as we see in ver. 10. Compare it with the formal fasting and mourning of the Israelites (Isa. 58: 5–7; Zech. 7:5-10). Every one from his evil way. All were to return by forsaking, each, one by one, his own habitual, favorite sin. --Pusey. The violence that is in their hands. “Violence” was their chief sin (comp. Nahum 2: 11, 12; 3:1; and Isa. 10:13, 14). In their hands. The hand is the instru. ment of violence. — Perowne. They were also to make restitution for the gains taken by violence. “Keep the winning, keep the sinning.” The honor of a fast is not in abstinence from food, but in avoidance of sin. Fastest thou? Shew it me by its works. What works, askest thou? If you see a poor man, have mercy; if an enemy, be reconciled; a friend doing well, envy him not. Let not the mouth alone fast; let eyes too, and hearing, and feet, and hands, and all the members of our bodies. Let the mouth fast, too, from foul words and reproaches. — St. Chrysostom.
9. Who can tell ? Jonah had preached God's justice; he had not proclaimed salvation. They had no other Ninevite to look to who had repented and been saved. Could they repent unfeignedly, and yet doubt of the grace of God? We are not justified by hope. That is not the ground of pardon. There may be faith where hope seems out of the ques. tion. - Dr. N. Adams. God. The one supreme God. That we perish not. They had to break through old prejudices; their only encouragement lay in the fact that they had been warned instead of destroyed. Hence our Lord calls them as witnesses against the generations which heard his gracious words. Nineveh is one vast temple of penitence and prayer. --- Perowne. What grief is like that when the creature, who might have been assured thereof, shall doubt the mercy of his Maker? It is not well when the heart can go but so far,“ Who knoweth ?”
III. The Punishment Remitted. — Ver. 10. 10. God saw their works. Not their speech, but their deeds; not their tongues, but their hands. - Abbott. God repented of the evil. This was “a change, not in his unchangeable counsel, but in his act.” “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world, and with him there is no variableness nor shadow of turning” (see also Num. 23:19). Yet we find him presenting himself to human effort and prayer, “ entreated of those who call upon him.” When they repented, the position in which they stood towards God's righteousness was altered. So God's mode of dealing with them must alter accordingly if God is not to be inconsistent with himself. What was really a change in them and in God's corresponding dealings is, in condescension to human conceptions, represented as a change in God. — Fairbairn. He did it not. God willed rather that his prophecy should seem to fail than that repentance should fail of its fruit. But it did not indeed fail, for the condition lay expressed in the threat. — Pusey. If these vast moral changes were represented as effected by merely moral means, it would be incredible; but it is put before us as a miracle of the Holy Spirit, under whose command Jonah was sent, and whose words were put into his mouth. — Redford. There is nothing here to contradict their subsequent relapse into sin, and consequent destruction. The present story is complete in itself. - Perowne. Jonah's errand of mercy is specially interesting, as the first prominent expression of the divine love to all mankind found in the Old Testament. — Geikie. “Israel had now a practical proof that he was the God of the heathen also, and could prepare for himself a people even among them.” Of what was he a sign to the Ninevites? of God's justice and God's mercy. The typical teaching of the book may be summed up in the words of St. Paul, “That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people (of Israel), and to the Gentiles." — Perowne. This second act, as we may call it, concentrates our attention on the repentance and salvation of Nineveh. There remains another act in which the prophet himself is again the chief character. Jonah displeased at the result of his mission, irritated and complaining, weary of life, and praying that he may die; Jonah sojourning in the hut which he has built him on the hill-side without the walls, watching thence with evil eye the fortunes of Nineveh; Jonah exceeding glad of the shady plant which God had mercifully prepared to overshadow his booth and screen him from the heat, vexed and angry even unto death again when that welcome alleviation is withdrawn; Jonah convinced and silenced by the divinely-drawn contrast between his own selfish sorrow for a plant, and God's large and liberal pity for the populous city of Nineveh. Finally, with noble disregard of self, he is content to pass out of view at the close of the book, silenced and disgraced, that so he may better point the moral with which he is charged.
PRACTICAL. 1. “A good man is known, not only when he stands, but when he rises after falling." 2. God's discipline is intended to make not only models, but ministers. — M. R. Vin
3. It is a great matter to have once cracked the conscience, which cannot be so easily soldered. – Abbott.
4. There is nothing whatever that should keep you from always taking sides in such ways as you can against whatever you feel to be evil when you encounter it, - no false humility, no assumption of the uselessness of such a course, no doubts on the score of propriety, — nothing whatever. - 7. H. Twichell.
5. We never receive exactly the same invitation or command from God the second time.
6 He best preaches salvation who has experienced it.
9. We carry our disposition, temper, and manners even into our treatment of our God. How do we behave ourselves toward him? - Dr. Adams.
10. God cares for the brute creation; so should we.
II. Christianity erased “barbarism” from the dictionary of mankind, and replaced it by the word “brother.” — Max Muller,
12. Our hearts must take in the whole world if we would labor aright for Christ. — Mary Lyon.
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. SUBJECT, — REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS.
I. THE PROPHET RESTORED (vers. 1-4). Fix attention on Jonah, saved, forgiven, grateful, longing to proclaim abroad his new experience, that “Salvation is of the Lord," yet fearing lest he had forfeited his privilege as a prophet. Enter into his joy at again receiving God's command, and his alacrity on entering upon his wearisome journey and braving the more cruel perils of the moral desert. The Lord had restored unto him the joy of his salvation.
Whether the words given in the chapter are merely the text of a longer sermon, or whether he reiterated this one sentence, he was preaching the preaching that God bade him.
Illustration. For four years before the destruction of Jerusalem, a peasant proclaimed through its streets by day and by night, “ A voice from the east, a voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, 'Woe, woe to Jerusalem.'”
II. THE PEOPLE REPENTANT (vers. 5-9). Nineveh was in the height of splendor and sin, when suddenly there appeared this strange figure from the distant land of Omri, startling every lane and square, bazaar and caravansary, by a piercing, monotonous wail, in a dialect which, though not unintelligible, seemed uncouth and barbarous. - Geikie. God's word went home to their souls. Their conscience also bore witness against their besetting sins, - cruelty, vileness, violence, and they (1) believed God. (2) They were heartily and openly sorry. (3) They prayed mightily to God. (4) They put away their sins, each one for himself. (5) They made restitution of their ill-gotten gain. This they did both as individuals and as a nation. It was a miracle of grace, attributable to nothing short of the Holy Spirit.
Illustrations. (1) The Day of Pentecost. (2) The great revival in the Sandwich Islands during the present century. (3) The more recent conversion of the Fiji Islands.
Two points are worthy of attention. (1 Nations and corporations, as such, have no future life, and their rewards and punishments are received in this life. Bearing this in mind, we better understand political economy and the philanthropy of history, not only in ancient monarchies, but in the accidents, and massacres, and successes that to-day are making history. (2) Our common domestic animals, from their connection with our sinful race, are exposed to suffering, which it is our duty to alleviate and prevent as far as possible.
Illustration. “A man's cat and dog ought to be the happier for his religion.”
III. THE PUNISHMENT REMITTED (ver. 10). Do not try to reconcile God's Unchangeableness and his Repentance, for, like Free Will and Foreknowledge, “they were never at variance.” Both are blessed truths seen from different standpoints. Show rather that God morally regards us at any one moment just as we then are, and that his justice is honored in the salvation of the penitent as much as in the destruction of the wicked.
If there is time, glance at Jonah (chap. 5), not yet hopeless of the destruction of those sinners, petulant, disappointed, even angry, as those who could govern God's world better than God himself are liable to be. Notice what the Lord prepares for his instruction, and the lesson he teaches him; and notice too that Jonah does not, as before, betake himself from God's presence.
Fail not to press home on every conscience the GOLDEN TEXT.
LESSON VIII. — Nov. 22. HEZEKIAH'S GOOD REIGN. — 2 KINGS 18:1-12. GOLDEN TEXT. — He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. - 2 KINGS 18:3.
TIME. – Hezekiah began to reign, B.C. 726. More than a century after the death of Elisha, our last lesson in the Kings, and 75 years after Jonah's mission to Nineveh.
CHRONOLOGY. – By studying the table of Old Testament chronology of this volume, the main facts of the intervening history can be obtained. The dates, as given in our Bibles, vary a few years from those derived from the Assyrian monuments. It is not yet certain whether some error of dates has crept into the Bible history through the mistakes of copyists, or whether we do not yet correctly interpret the monuments. As the late Mr. George Smith has remarked, “There is a striking agreement in the order and substance of the events mentioned in both histories, although there sometimes appears to be considerable difference as to the dates ... It must be remembered that many of the Assyrian chronological documents are mutilated and incomplete, and that the Assyrians are not always correct in the statements of their histories." - Green.
PLACE. — The kingdom of Judah; especially Jerusalem.
CORRESPONDING BIBLE HISTORY. - 2 Chron., chaps. 29–31. Isa. 14:28 to the end of chap. 35 belongs to the earlier half of Hezekiah's reign. Ps. 75, 76, 80-82, 85-89 belong to this reign.
RULERS. – Hezekiah, king of Judah; Hoshea, king of Israel till 721, when the kingdom of Israel was overthrown, and the people carried away captive by Shalmaneser, or Sargon, king of Assyria; the Achæans founded Sybaris, 721; Numa Pompilius at Rome, 716673; rise of Corinth, 745.
PROPHETS. — Nahum (B.C. 720-698) begins, and Isaiah (B.C. 747-698) and Micah (B.C. 750–710) continue to prophesy. A considerable part of Isaiah's prophecies belong to this reign.
PRONUNCIATIONS. — A'bi; Assýr'iă; E'lăh; Go'zăn; Ha'lăh; Ha'bör; Hězěkilh; Hỗshe'; Medes; NĂhushotăn; Shẳlmănesor; Zạchirikah.
INTRODUCTION. Our studies are now again turned to the kingdom of Judah. The interval of a century and a quarter since the great reformation under Joash (Lesson IV.) was one of varied fortunes to the kingdom of Judah. Sometimes it fell into declension and misfortune under bad kings, and rose to great prosperity under the good, while the kingdom of Israel was grow. ing rapidly worse and worse, both in morals and in outward condition. This intervening history can be read in 2 Kings, chaps. 15-17, and 2 Chron., chaps. 25-28, with light thrown on it from the first 14 chapters of Isaiah, which belong to this period. We now turn to the reign of one of the best kings that ever ruled over Judah.
1. Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah 1 the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.
2. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign ; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.
3. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.
12 Chron. 28:27; 29:1. Matt. 1:9.
EXPLANATORY. I. Hezekiah. - Vers. 1-3. I. Now it came to pass, etc. It must be carefully observed that vers. 1-8 contain a summary account of the entire reign of Hezekiah. After this general summary follows, from ver. 9 on, the narrative of the chief events during his reign in chronological order. - Lange. Third year of Hoshea. Hoshea was the 19th king of Israel, B.C. 730–721. Hezekiah began to reign near the close of his third year, so that the greater part of Hezekiah's first year would fall in the fourth year of Hoshea (see vers. 9, 10).- Cook. Hezekiah (strength of Jehovah) the son of Ahaz king of Judah. Hezekiah was the 13th king of Judah, and one of the best. He had a prosperous reign of 29 years (B.C. 726-698). He was the good son of a bad father. (i) Perhaps a good mother, the daughter of a prophet, counteracted the evil example of his father. (2) Perhaps also the excessive evil of his father and the results of his wickedness proved a warning to the son. (3) Isaiah the prophet, who began to prophesy in his father's reign, may have exerted a good influence over him. The Jewish rabbis say he was his tutor. But (4) even if these things exerted their influence, we must, with Lange, “recognize here, if anywhere, a dispensation of divine providence.” – P. He was one of the noblest princes who ever adorned David's throne. His reign of 29 years offers an almost unmarred picture of persevering warfare against the most intricate and most difficult circumstances, and of glorious victory. He was very noble, not unwarlike or wanting in courage (2 Kings 20:20), yet by choice more devoted to the arts of peace (2 Chron. 32: 27–29; Prov. 25:1). — Ewald.
2. Twenty and five years old was he. It has been observed that this statement, combined with that of 2 Kings 16: 2, that Ahaz was only 20 at his accession, and reigned but 16 years, would make it necessary that Ahaz should have married at the age of ten. Prob. ably an error has crept in as to the age of Ahaz. His mother's name also was Abi. A shortened form of Abijah in 2 Chron. 29:1. Zachariah. The same as Zechariah, a very common name, belonging to 25 different persons in the Bible. This Zachariah must be distinguished from the author of the book of that name, who lived two centuries later. Stanley says that this Zachariah may have been the favorite prophet of Uzziah (2 Chron. 26: 5), who aided him so much in making his reign religious and prosperous. If the prophet who exerted such an excellent influence upon Uzziah was the father or grandfather (for “ daughter” sometimes means grand-daughter) of Hezekiah's mother, there is some light cast upon the influences which made Hezekiah so different a man from his father. - Todd.
3. Right in the sight of the Lord. All that is truly right must be right in the sight of the Lord, who sees the inmost heart and motives, and knows not only what seems righi, but what is right. Many a wrong may seem right in the sight of man. According to all that David ... did. Some of his predecessors did right, it is said, but not like David, who was always the standard by which other kings were measured (1 Kings II:6; 15:3, 11).