Yahweh responds to Jonah (Jon 4:9-4:11)

“But God

Said to Jonah.

‘Is it right

For you

To be angry

About the bush?’

Jonah said.

‘Yes,

Angry enough to die.’

Yahweh said.

‘You are concerned

About the bush

For which you did not labor.

You did not grow it.

It came into being

In a night.

It perished

In a night.

Should I not be concerned

About Nineveh,

That great city,

In which there are more

Than a hundred

And twenty thousand persons,

Who do not know

Their right hand

From their left hand.

There are also many animals.”

Thus, the story of Jonah ends with a reprimand for Jonah.  Jonah continued to argue that he had the right to be mad.  At times, he sounded like Job and his complaints.  God, not Yahweh, asked him if he had a right to be angry.  Jonah insisted that he was so angry that he was willing to die.  Then Yahweh asked him about the bush.  It appeared one day and was gone the next day.  Jonah did nothing to make it grow, so why was he so angry about the dead bush.  On the other hand, Yahweh was concerned about the great city of Nineveh with 120,000 people and lots of animals.  Yet, there was a parting shot at the people of Nineveh.  Apparently, they were so dumb that they could not tell their right hand from their left hand.

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The sun beats on Jonah (Jon 4:7-4:8)

“But when dawn came up,

The next day,

God appointed a worm

That attacked the bush.

Thus,

It withered.

When the sun rose,

God prepared

A sultry east wind.

The sun beat down

On the head of Jonah,

So that he was faint.

He asked

That he might die.

He said.

‘It is better for me

To die

Than to live.’”

Jonah still had the same death wish that he had expressed earlier.  When dawn came up, God sent a worm to attack Jonah’s shade bush, so that the bush withered.  In addition to that, God sent a sultry east wind, so that the sun beat down on Jonah’s head.  He then became faint.  As earlier in this chapter, Jonah thought that it was better that he died rather sit in the beating hot sun.  Obviously, Jonah was not a very strong individual.

The shade bush (Jon 4:6-4:6)

“Yahweh God

Appointed a bush.

He made it come up

Over Jonah.

Thus,

It might give shade

Over his head.

This would save him

From his discomfort.

So,

Jonah was very happy

About the bush.”

Although Jonah was upset, Yahweh God made a bush come up over Jonah to cover his head from the sun.  This gave him some shade.  Thus, it took away some of his discomfort.  Actually, Jonah was very happy about this bush.

Jonah’s justifying prayer to Yahweh (Jon 4:2-4:2)

“Jonah prayed

To Yahweh.

He said.

‘O Yahweh!

Is this not what I said

While I was still

In my country?

That is why I fled

To Tarshish

At the beginning.

I knew that

You are a gracious God.

You are merciful.

You are slow to anger.

You are abounding

In steadfast love.

You are ready

To relent from punishing.’”

Jonah in his prayer to Yahweh tried to justify his former actions.  He claimed that Yahweh was so gracious and merciful that he would not have inflicted any damage on Nineveh.  Jonah gave that as his reason for originally trying to flee to Tarshish.  He knew that Yahweh was slow to anger and abounding with steadfast love.  Thus, he knew that Yahweh was eager and ready to not punish the people of Nineveh.

Jonah was not happy (Jon 4:1-4:1)

But this was

Very displeasing

To Jonah.

He became angry.”

Not only did Jonah refuse to take on this mission originally, now he was mad that God had not followed through on his original proclamation.  He looked like a fool, since he went around screaming about the 40 days until Nineveh would be destroyed.  Now, there was to be no destruction.  Jonah was not a happy man.  He was angry.

God saves Nineveh (Jon 3:10-3:10)

“When God saw

What they did,

How they turned

From their evil ways,

God changed his mind

About the calamity

That he had said

He would bring upon them.

Thus,

He did not do it.”

This is one of the few cases where God changing his mind.  God did not bring destruction to Nineveh.  God saw how the people and the leaders of Nineveh had turned from their evil ways.  Thus, he decided not to bring destruction to this non-Israelite town, because of their repentance.  God showed mercy to them.

The great fast proclamation (Jon 3:7-3:9)

“The king had a proclamation

Made in Nineveh.

‘By the decree

Of the king

With his nobles.

No human being,

No animal,

No herd,

No flock,

Shall taste anything.

They shall not feed them.

They shall not drink water.

Human beings,

With animals,

Shall be covered

With sackcloth.

They shall cry mightily

To God.

All shall turn

From their evil ways.

They shall turn

From the violence

That is in their hands.

Who knows?

God may yet relent.

God may change

His mind.

He may turn

From his fierce anger.

Thus,

We may not perish.’”

This king of Nineveh sent out a proclamation from the capital city.  No humans or animals should eat or drink anything, a total fast.  Both the humans and animals should be covered in sackcloth.  They all should cry out to God.  They were to turn from their evil violent ways.  His thought was that maybe God would change his mind about the future destruction of Nineveh.  Perhaps God would not be angry with them.  Thus, they would not die.