“Just as Jonah
Became a sign
To the people
The Son of Man
Will be a sign
To this generation.”
καθὼς γὰρ ἐγένετο Ἰωνᾶς τοῖς Νινευείταις σημεῖον, οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ.
Luke indicated that Jesus said that just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh (καθὼς γὰρ ἐγένετο Ἰωνᾶς τοῖς Νινευείταις σημεῖον), so, too, the Son of Man will be a sign to this generation (οὕτως ἔσται καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ). This saying about the sign of Jonah can also be found in Matthew, chapter 12:39-40. Perhaps this was a Q source, going back to Hebrew scripture roots. Jesus used this story of the prophet Jonah, chapter 1:17, where he was in the belly of the whale or the sea monster for 3 days and 3 nights. The obvious comparison between the 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish and Jesus in the tomb was not lost on the early Christians. Matthew was even more specific than Luke. He indicated that Jesus said that the only sign they were going to get was the sign of the prophet Jonah, who had been in the belly of the sea monster or whale that swallowed him for 3 days and 3 nights. Thus, the Son of Man would be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth. This was a clear allusion to the death of Jesus in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights before his resurrection. Luke was not as clear or specific. What do you know about Jonah and the whale?
“For forty days,
Jesus was tempted
By the devil.
He ate nothing
During those days.
When these days
He was very hungry.”
ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. Καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν ἐπείνασεν.
This text is like Matthew, chapter 4:2, almost word for word, indicating a common source, perhaps Q. Luke said that Jesus was tempted (πειραζόμενος) for 40 days (ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα) by the devil (ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου). During this time or in those days (ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις), Jesus did not eat anything at all (Καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν), since he was fasting. When the 40 days were over or completed (καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν), Jesus was really hungry or famished (ἐπείνασεν). There was a symbolism in this fast of 40 days. Luke did not mention 40 nights, like Matthew. Fasting was a common Hebrew exercise, while 40 was the same number of years that the Israelites were in the wilderness during the Exodus. Jesus was really hungry at the end of his 40 day fast. The devil, the personification of evil, tempted Jesus. Mark, chapter 1:13, has an abbreviated description of the temptations of Jesus compared to Matthew, and Luke. All 3 synoptics agreed that Jesus was in the wilderness 40 symbolic days. All agreed that Jesus was tempted by Satan or the devil, the adversary or the accuser. This concept of the adversary showed the Persian influence on the Israelites after the exile. The older devil concept was considered a fallen angel without all the powers of God, but nevertheless very strong. Mark said that Jesus was with the wild beasts, but this remark was not found in the other longer detailed descriptions of Matthew and Luke. Mark made it seem like the temptation was physical, like the fear of wild animals, as he then said that the good angels ministered to Jesus, waiting on him and taking caring for him.
And adulterous generation
Asks for a sign.
But no sign
Will be given to it,
Except the sign of Jonah.’
Then he left them.
He went away.”
γενεὰ πονηρὰ καὶ μοιχαλὶς σημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ, καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ. καὶ καταλιπὼν αὐτοὺς ἀπῆλθεν.
This saying about the evil generation and the sign of Jonah can be found in Mark, chapter 8:12-13, and Luke, chapter 11:29, and earlier in Matthew, chapter 12:38, plus here, but there are slight differences. Jesus said that they were an evil and adulterous generation (γενεὰ πονηρὰ καὶ μοιχαλὶς) because they were asking for a sign (σημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ). However, no sign would be given to them (καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ), except the sign of Jonah (εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ). There was no further explanation as earlier in chapter 8:12-13, but Matthew used exactly the same words as in the earlier saying. Here, he simply went away and left them there (καὶ καταλιπὼν αὐτοὺς ἀπῆλθεν.) to figure things out. Jonah, chapter 1:17, was where the prophet was in the belly of the whale or the sea monster for 3 days and 3 nights. The obvious comparison between the 3 days and the 3 nights in the belly of the fish and Jesus in the tomb was not lost on the early Christians. This was a clear allusion to the death of Jesus in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights before his resurrection. But there was no attempt to make it clear here.
“But Jesus answered them.
And adulterous generation
Asks for a sign.
But no sign shall be given
Except the sign
Of the prophet Jonah.
Just as Jonah was three days
And three nights
In the belly of the sea monster,
For three days
And three nights
The Son of man
In the heart of the earth.’”
ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Γενεὰ πονηρὰ καὶ μοιχαλὶς σημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ, καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ τοῦ προφήτου.
ὥσπερ γὰρ ἦν Ἰωνᾶς ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ τοῦ κήτους τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας, οὕτως ἔσται ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ τῆς γῆς τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας.
This saying about the sign of Jonah can also be found in Luke, chapter 11:29-30, so that perhaps this is a Q source. Once again, Q and Matthew went back to their Old Testament roots, using the story of the prophet Jonah, chapter 1:17, where he was in the belly of the whale or the sea monster for 3 days and 3 nights. The obvious comparison between the 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish and Jesus in the tomb was not lost on the early Christians. Jesus answered the Pharisees (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς). He called them an evil and adulterous generation (Γενεὰ πονηρὰ καὶ μοιχαλὶς). Why were they asking for or seeking signs (σημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ)? The only sign they were going to get was the sign of the prophet Jonah (καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ τοῦ προφήτου). He had been in the belly of the sea monster or whale that swallowed him for 3 days and 3 nights (ὥσπερ γὰρ ἦν Ἰωνᾶς ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ τοῦ κήτους τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας). Thus, the Son of Man would be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth (οὕτως ἔσται ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ τῆς γῆς τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας). This was a clear allusion to the death of Jesus in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights before his resurrection.
Once John baptized Jesus, according to all three synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the Judaean desert. After this fast, the devil, the tempter, or Satan appeared to Jesus trying to test or tempt him. Jesus refused each of the 3 human temptations concerning the hedonism of hunger, the egotism of power, and the materialism of wealth. These temptations were to mislead and pervert the thinking, wishing, and feeling of Jesus. Although Mark‘s account was very brief, Matthew and Luke described the temptations in great detail that may have come from their common Q source. Is this a parable? What was the purpose of these accounts? There is no doubt that Matthew used language from the Old Testament Septuagint with a series of quotations from Deuteronomy. Fasting was a preparation for a great spiritual struggle. Once the temptations were over, Satan departed. Then angels of God began looking after Jesus. These temptations of Jesus have had many portrayals in art, literature, film, and music, since they have captured the imagination of many of the followers of Jesus Christ
A large fish
To swallow up
In the belly
Of the fish
As well as three nights.”
Here we get to the great story of Jonah and the whale that has delighted young children for centuries. First, is this the end of the 1st chapter or the beginning of the 2nd chapter? Is this a male of female fish? There are many interpretations about this fish. Was it a big fish or a whale? Was it a special fish just for this one occasion that Yahweh provided it? Is this just an allegorical story like a dream or vision? Most people have interpreted this large fish as a whale or shark. However, most whales could not swallow a whole human. Perhaps, it was a sea monster or a sea serpent. The obvious comparison between the 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish and Jesus in the tomb was not lost on the early Christians.
“Do not human beings have a hard service on earth?
Are not their days like the days of a laborer?
Are not their days like a slave who longs for the shadow?
Are not their days like laborers who look for their wages?
So I am allotted months of emptiness.
Nights of misery are apportioned to me.
When I lie down I say.
‘When shall I arise?’
But the night is long.
I am full of tossing until dawn.
My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt.
My skin hardens.
Then my skin breaks out again.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle.
They come to their end without hope.”
This was a man in despair. He had a hard mortal life. He was like a day laborer who got paid by the day, assuming that he worked. He was like a paid mercenary. He was a like a slave who only looked for shade. All that he could hope for was his paid wages. His months were empty. His nights were miserable. When he lay down, all he could think of was when he would get up. He tossed and turned all night long with little sleep. His flesh was full of worms and dirt. His skin hardened and then broke out again. His days went by like a weaver’s spinning wheel. In the end, there was no hope in his hopeless hard human life.
“As soon as Judas Maccabeus got his army organized, the gentiles could not withstand him. The wrath of the Lord had turned to mercy. Coming without warning, he would set fire to towns and villages. He captured strategic positions. He put to flight not a few of the enemy. He found the nights most advantageous for such attacks. Talk of his valor spread everywhere.”
Suddenly, the army of Judas Maccabeus was able to attack the gentiles. The anger of God turned to mercy. Judas Maccabeus and his group would set fire to towns and villages, the supposed strategic positions of the enemy. However, they were in Israel or Judah. The enemies were sent fleeing. He mostly attacked at night because it was easier then as talk of his exploits began to spread everywhere.