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.
Put on strength!
O arm of Yahweh!
As in days of old!
The generations of long ago!
Did you not cut Rahab in pieces?
Did you not pierce the dragon?
Did you not dry up the sea?
Did you not dry up the waters of the great deep?
Did you not make the depths of the sea
In a way for the redeemed to cross over?
The ransomed of Yahweh shall return.
They will come to Zion with singing.
Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.
They shall obtain joy.
They shall obtain gladness.
Sorrow shall flee away.
Sighing shall flee away.”
Second Isaiah has a plea for the arm of Yahweh to act again as he had done in Egypt at the time of the Exodus. He had cut up Rahab, the sea monster name for Egypt. He had pierced the dragon in mythological terms. He dried up the waters, so that the redeemed of Israel could cross over. These same ransomed people will now come to Zion singing with joy. They will be joyful and glad and not sorrowful or sighing. Yahweh will intervene again on their behalf.
God of hosts!
Who is as mighty as you?
Your faithfulness surrounds you.
You rule the raging of the sea.
When its waves rise,
You still them.
You crushed Rahab like a carcass.
You scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
The heavens are yours.
The earth also is yours.”
Yahweh is the powerful God with hosts of large armies. He is mighty, so that there is no one as mighty as him. His faithfulness is all around him. He controls the raging sea and the rising waves. He crushed the sea monster Rahab. He scattered his enemies. He has power over heaven and earth.
“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?
Can you press down its tongue with a cord?
Can you put a rope in its nose?
Can you pierce its jaw with a hook?”
In the Bible of Jerusalem this is the end of chapter 40 and not the beginning of chapter 41. However, the text is exactly the same so I am using the Oxford Bible numbering until the end of chapter 41, where the 2 works once again coincide. The Leviathan was the sea monster personified. If anything it might have been a large crocodile or a water dragon of some kind. Later in medieval Christianity, the Leviathan was considered to be the devil in popular works. For philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) the Leviathan was a big government that came from a social contract. You obviously could not catch this monster with a fish hook, a cord, or a rope. This biblical author spends a long time explaining the Leviathan in this part of Yahweh’s speech.