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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Jonah 4

Verses 1-11


Jonah’s Jealousy contrasted with Jehovah’s Compassion

1. Jonah’s anger has a double cause, wounded pride that his words are proved false, and indignation that the God of Israel should pity heathen, only fit to be fuel for fire. 3. A striking parallel to the dejection and disappointment of Elijah (1 Kings 19).

4. Doest thou well to be angry?] RM ’Art thou greatly angry?’ A kindly remonstrance to awake better feelings. Jonah makes no reply yet, but goes and sits in his booth to watch whether, after all, God will not change His mind again.

5. The booth, like those used at the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles, would be a rough structure made of poles and leaves.

6. Gourd] most likely the bottle-gourd, often planted to grow over trellis-work, whose broad leaves would form a good protection against the sun.

8. Vehement] RV ’sultry’ = the sirocco.

9. See on Jonah 4:4. Jonah transfers his pity for himself, as an ill-used prophet, to the gourd which likewise has been hardly treated. A wonderfully true touch of human nature.

10. The argument is very fine. Jonah’s feeling of pity for the gourd is just enough, a withered tree is always a sad sight. Yet on this gourd,’ child of a night’ (so the Heb.), he had spent neither labour nor strength. How much more should God, of whose goodness man’s highest virtue is but the faintest shadow, pity and spare the helpless and ignorant works of His own hands, who now fill the streets of Nineveh with pathetic appeals for forgiveness!

11. That cannot discern] i.e. little children. There is no finer close in literature than this ending. The divine question, ’Shall not I have pity?’ remains unanswered. Its echoes are heard still in every crowded haunt of men. Above the stir and din and wickedness the Infinite Compassion is still brooding.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Jonah 4". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/jonah-4.html. 1909.