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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Jonah 2

 

 

Verse 1-2

Jonah 2:1-2. Then Jonah prayed — Those devout thoughts and feelings which he had at that time, he afterward digested into the following prayer, and added a thanksgiving for his deliverance at the end of it. So several of David’s Psalms were probably composed after his trouble was over; but in a manner suitable to the thoughts he had at the time of his affliction; and with a grateful sense of God’s mercies for his deliverance out of it: see Psalm 54. and 120. And he heard me — He thanks God that, in consequence of his prayer, his life is wonderfully preserved. Out of the belly of hell cried I — The word שׁאולsignifies the state of the dead. So it may most properly be rendered the grave here, as the margin reads: the belly of the fish was to Jonah instead of a grave.


Verses 4-7

Jonah 2:4-7. Then I said, I am cast out, &c. — “My first apprehensions were, that as I had justly forfeited thy favour by my disobedience, so thou wouldest cast me out of thy protection; yet, upon recollecting myself, I thought it my duty not to despair of thy mercy, but direct my prayer toward thy heavenly habitation.” — Lowth. The waters compassed me even to the soul — Or life; that is, to the extreme hazard of my life; and I thought of nothing more than losing my life among the waves. I went, &c. — I went down to the bottom of the sea, where the foundations of the mountains lie. Or, the fish carried me down as deep in the sea as are the bottoms of the mountains. The earth with her bars was about me — I found myself enclosed on every side, without any way for escape; and should have been enclosed for ever, had not thy power interposed. Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption — But, notwithstanding it was involved in all these terrible circumstances, which seemed to preclude all possibility of its being preserved, yet thou, O my God, by thy power didst save my life from destruction. When my soul fainted within me — When I seemed just expiring, and lost all hopes of being preserved; I remembered the Lord — I thought of thy almighty power and boundless mercy, O Jehovah, who causest to be whatsoever thou willest; and my prayer came in unto thee — And therefore I addressed my prayer to thee, as being persuaded that thou couldest still preserve me, even in the most extreme dangers; and my faith was not disappointed; for I found, by the event, that thou couldest deliver me, as I believed thou wast able to do.


Verse 8-9

Jonah 2:8-9. They that observe lying vanities, &c. — They that seek to, or trust in, idols, (often called by the names of vanity and lies,) forsake their own mercy — Forsake him who alone is able to show mercy to them, and preserve them in time of danger: who, to all that depend upon him, is an eternal fountain of mercy, even a fountain of living waters which flow freely to all that seek unto him for them. But I will sacrifice unto thee, &c. — I will offer to thee those thanks which I solemnly promised to pay in the time of my trouble, and which will be as acceptable to thee as the sacrifices of slain beasts.


Verse 10

Jonah 2:10. And the Lord — This should rather have been rendered, For the Lord; because what follows was not done after the preceding thanksgiving, but before it; and it is mentioned here only to show the cause or subject of the thanksgiving. The Lord spake unto the fish, &c. — God’s almighty power is represented in Scripture as bringing things to pass by his bare will and command: see Genesis 1:3. He willed that the fish should cast Jonah up on the dry land, and the fish did so. Various are the traditions of the Orientals respecting the place where Jonah was disembogued; but, as Calmet well observes, amidst such doubt and obscurity, the best part is absolute silence, and the sincere declaration that the matter is entirely unknown. “The fame of Jonah’s deliverance appears to have spread among the heathen nations; and the Greeks, who were accustomed to adore the memory of their heroes by every remarkable event and embellishment which they could appropriate, added to the fictitious adventures of Hercules, that of his having continued three days, without injury, in the belly of a dog, sent against him by Neptune.” — Gray’s Key. Huetius (Demonst. Evang., Prop. 4) supposes that Jonah’s deliverance from the whale’s belly gave occasion to the Greek story of Arion, who, after he was cast into the sea, was conveyed by a dolphin to the port of Corinth.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jonah 2:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jonah-2.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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