1:14 So they cried out to the Lord, “Oh, please, Lord, don’t let us die on account of this man! Don’t hold us guilty of shedding innocent blood. 1 After all, you, Lord, have done just as you pleased.” 2
2:2 and said,
“I 3 called out to the Lord from my distress,
and he answered me; 4
from the belly of Sheol 5 I cried out for help,
and you heard my prayer. 6
4:2 He prayed to the Lord and said, “Oh, Lord, this is just what I thought 11 would happen 12 when I was in my own country. 13 This is what I tried to prevent 14 by attempting to escape to Tarshish! 15 – because I knew 16 that you are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger 17 and abounding 18 in mercy, and one who relents concerning threatened judgment. 19
4:8 When the sun began to shine, God sent 20 a hot 21 east wind. So the sun beat down 22 on Jonah’s head, and he grew faint. So he despaired of life, 23 and said, “I would rather die than live!” 24 4:9 God said to Jonah, “Are you really so very angry 25 about the little plant?” And he said, “I am as angry 26 as I could possibly be!” 27
1 tn Heb “Do not put against us innocent blood,” that is, “Do not assign innocent blood to our account.” It seems that the sailors were afraid that they would die if they kept Jonah in the ship and also that they might be punished with death if they threw him overboard.
3 sn The eight verses of Jonah’s prayer in Hebrew contain twenty-seven first-person pronominal references to himself. There are fifteen second- or third-person references to the
sn The first verse of the prayer summarizes the whole – “I was in trouble; I called to the
5 sn Sheol was a name for the place of residence of the dead, the underworld (see Job 7:9-10; Isa 38:17-18). Jonah pictures himself in the belly of Sheol, its very center – in other words he is as good as dead.
6 tn Heb “voice” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); NIV “my cry.” The term קוֹל (qol, “voice”) functions as a metonymy for the content of what is uttered: cry for help in prayer.
7 tn Heb “And I said.” The verb אָמַר (’amar, “to say”) is sometimes used to depict inner speech and thoughts of a character (HALOT 66 s.v. אמר 4; BDB 56 s.v. אָמַר 2; e.g., Gen 17:17; Ruth 4:4; 1 Sam 20:26; Esth 6:6). While many English versions render this “I said” (KJV, NKJV, NAB, ASV, NASB, NIV, NLT), several nuance it “I thought” (JPS, NJPS, NEB, REB, NJB, TEV, CEV).
9 tc Or “Yet I will look again to your holy temple” or “Surely I will look again to your holy temple.” The MT and the vast majority of ancient textual witnesses vocalize consonantal אך (’kh) as the adverb אַךְ (’akh) which functions as an emphatic asseverative “surely” (BDB 36 s.v. אַךְ 1) or an adversative “yet, nevertheless” (BDB 36 s.v. אַךְ 2; so Tg. Jonah 2:4: “However, I shall look again upon your holy temple”). These options understand the line as an expression of hopeful piety. As a positive statement, Jonah expresses hope that he will live to return to worship in Jerusalem. It may be a way of saying, “I will pray for help, even though I have been banished” (see v. 8; cf. Dan 6:10). The sole dissenter is the Greek recension of Theodotion which reads the interrogative πῶς (pws, “how?”) which reflects an alternate vocalization tradition of אֵךְ (’ekh) – a defectively written form of אֵיךְ (’ekh, “how?”; BDB 32 s.v. אֵיךְ 1). This would be translated, “How shall I again look at your holy temple?” (cf. NRSV). Jonah laments that he will not be able to worship at the temple in Jerusalem again – this is a metonymical statement (effect for cause) that he feels certain that he is about to die. It continues the expression of Jonah’s distress and separation from the
(vv. 3-6a) and the
synonymous parallelism fits the context of the lament better (“I have been banished from your sight; Will I ever again see your holy temple?”). Third, אֵךְ is the more difficult vocalization because it is a defectively written form of אֵיךְ (“how?”) and therefore easily confused with אַךְ (“surely” or “yet, nevertheless”). Fourth, nothing in the first half of the psalm reflects any inkling of confidence on the part of Jonah that he would be delivered from imminent death. In fact, Jonah states in v. 7 that he did not turn to God in prayer until some time later when he was on the very brink of death.
sn Both options for the start of the line (“how?” and “yet” or “surely”) fit the ironic portrayal of Jonah in the prayer (see also vv.8-9). Jonah, who had been trying to escape the
10 tn Heb “Will I ever see your holy temple again?” The rhetorical question expresses denial: Jonah despaired of ever seeing the temple again.
11 tn Heb “my saying?” The first common singular suffix on דְבָרִי (dÿvari, “my saying”) functions as a subjective genitive: “I said.” The verb אָמַר (’amar, “to say”) here refers to the inner speech and thoughts of Jonah (see HALOT 66 s.v. אמר 4; BDB 56 s.v. אָמַר 2; e.g., Gen 17:17; Ruth 4:4; 1 Sam 20:26; Esth 6:6; Jonah 2:4). There is no hint anywhere else in the book that Jonah had argued with God when he was originally commissioned. While most English versions render it “I said” or “my saying,” a few take it as inner speech: “This is what I feared” (NEB), “It is just as I feared” (REB), “I knew from the very beginning” (CEV).
12 tn The phrase “would happen” does not appear in the Hebrew text but is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.
13 tn Heb “Is this not my saying while I was in my own country?” The rhetorical question implies a positive answer (“Yes, this was the very thing that Jonah had anticipated would happen all along!”) so it is rendered as an emphatic declaration in the translation.
14 tn Or “This is why I originally fled to Tarshish.” The verb קָדַם (qadam) in the Piel stem has a broad range of meanings and here could mean: (1) “to go before, be in front of” (1 Sam 20:25; Ps 68:26); (2) “to do [something] beforehand,” (Ps 119:147); or (3) “to anticipate, to do [something] early, forestall [something]” (Ps 119:148). The lexicons nuance Jonah 4:2 as “to do [something] for the first time” (HALOT 1069 s.v. קדם 4) or “to do [something] beforehand” (BDB 870 s.v. קָדַם 3). The phrase קִדַּמְתִּי לִבְרֹחַ (qiddamti livroakh, “I did the first time to flee”) is an idiom that probably means “I originally fled” or “I fled the first time.” The infinitive construct לִבְרֹחַ (“to flee”) functions as an object complement. This phrase is translated variously by English versions, depending on the category of meaning chosen for קָדַם: (1) “to do [something] for the first time, beforehand”: “That is why I fled beforehand” (JPS, NJPS), “I fled before” (KJV), “I fled previously” (NKJV), “I fled at the beginning” (NRSV), “I first tried to flee” (NJB), “I fled at first” (NAB); (2) “to do [something] early, to hasten to do [something]”: “That is why I was so quick to flee” (NIV), “I hastened to flee” (ASV), “I made haste to flee” (RSV), “I did my best to run away” (TEV); and (3) “to anticipate, forestall [something]”: “it was to forestall this that I tried to escape to Tarshish” (REB), “to forestall it I tried to escape to Tarshish” (NEB), “in order to forestall this I fled” (NASB). The ancient versions also handle it variously: (1) “to do [something] early, to hasten to do [something]”: “Therefore I made haste to flee” (LXX), “That is why I hastened to run away” (Tg. Jonah 4:2); and (2) “to go before, to be in front”: “Therefore I went before to flee to Tarshish” (Vulgate). The two most likely options are (1) “to do [something] the first time” = “This is why I originally fled to Tarshish” and (2) “to anticipate, forestall [something]” = “This is what I tried to forestall [= prevent] by fleeing to Tarshish.”
sn The narrator skillfully withheld Jonah’s motivations from the reader up to this point for rhetorical effect – to build suspense and to create a shocking, surprising effect. Now, for the first time, the narrator reveals why Jonah fled from the commission of God in 1:3 – he had not wanted to give God the opportunity to relent from judging Nineveh! Jonah knew that if he preached in Nineveh, the people might repent and as a result, God might more than likely relent from sending judgment. Hoping to seal their fate, Jonah had originally refused to preach so that the Ninevites would not have an opportunity to repent. Apparently Jonah hoped that God would have therefore judged them without advance warning. Or perhaps he was afraid he would betray his nationalistic self-interests by functioning as the instrument through which the
16 tn Or “know.” What Jonah knew then he still knows about the
17 tn Heb “long of nostrils.” Because the nose often expresses anger through flared nostrils it became the source of this idiom meaning “slow to anger” (e.g., Exod 34:6; Num 14:18; Neh 9:17; Pss 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Jer 15:15; Nah 1:3; BDB 74 s.v. אָרֵךְ).
18 tn Heb “great” (so KJV); ASV, NASB “abundant”; NAB “rich in clemency.”
19 tn Heb “calamity.” The noun רָעָה (ra’ah, “calamity, disaster”) functions as a metonymy of result – the cause being the threatened judgment (e.g., Exod 32:12, 14; 2 Sam 24:16; Jer 18:8; 26:13, 19; 42:10; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2). The classic statement of God’s willingness to relent from judgment when a sinful people repent is Jer 18:1-11.
sn Jonah is precisely correct in his listing of the
21 tc The MT adjective חֲרִישִׁית (kharishit, “autumnal”) is a hapax legomenon with an unclear meaning (BDB 362 s.v. חֲרִישִׁי); therefore, the BHS editors propose a conjectural emendation to the adjective חֲרִיפִית (kharifit, “autumnal”) from the noun חֹרֶף (khoref, “autumn”; see BDB 358 s.v. חרֶף). However, this emendation would also create a hapax legomenon and it would be no more clear than relating the MT’s חֲרִישִׁית to I חָרַשׁ (kharash, “to plough” [in autumn harvest]).
tn Heb “autumnal” or “sultry.” The adjective חֲרִישִׁית is a hapax legomenon whose meaning is unclear; it might mean “autumnal” (from I חָרַשׁ, kharash; “to plough” [in the autumn harvest-time]), “silent” = “sultry” (from IV. חרשׁ, “to be silent”; BDB 362 s.v. חֲרִישִׁי). The form חֲרִישִׁית might be an alternate spelling of חֲרִיסִית (kharisit) from the noun חֶרֶס (kheres, “sun”) and so mean “hot” (BDB 362 s.v.).
22 tn Heb “attacked” or “smote.”
23 tn Heb “he asked his soul to die.”
24 tn Heb “better my death than my life.”
sn Jonah repeats his assessment, found also in 4:3.
26 tn Heb “It thoroughly burns to me” or “It rightly burns to me.”
27 tn Heb “unto death.” The phrase עַד־מָוֶת (’ad-mavet, “unto death”) is an idiomatic expression meaning “to the extreme” or simply “extremely [angry]” (HALOT 563 s.v. מָוֶת 1.c). The noun מָוֶת (“death”) is often used as an absolute superlative with a negative sense, similar to the English expression “bored to death” (IBHS 267-69 §14.5). For example, “his soul was vexed to death” (לָמוּת, lamut) means that he could no longer endure it (Judg 16:16), and “love is as strong as death” (כַמָּוֶת, kammavet) means love is irresistible or exceedingly strong (Song 8:6). Here the expression “I am angry unto death” (עַד־מָוֶת) means that Jonah could not be more angry. Unfortunately, this idiomatic expression has gone undetected by virtually every other major English version to date (KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, ASV, NASB, NIV, NJB, JPS, NJPS). The only English version that comes close to representing the idiom correctly is BBE: “I have a right to be truly angry.”