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Jonah 4:4

Context
4:4 The Lord said, “Are you really so very 1  angry?” 2 

Jonah 4:9

Context
4:9 God said to Jonah, “Are you really so very angry 3  about the little plant?” And he said, “I am as angry 4  as I could possibly be!” 5 

1 tn Heb “Rightly does it burn to you?” Note this question occurs again in v. 9, there concerning the withered plant. “Does it so thoroughly burn to you?” or “Does it rightly burn to you?” or “Does it burn so thoroughly to you?” The Hiphil of יָטַב (yatav, “to do good”) here may have one of two meanings: (1) It may mean “to do [something] rightly” in terms of ethical right and wrong (BDB 406 s.v. יָטַב 5.b; HALOT 408 s.v. יטב 3.c; e.g., Gen 4:7; Lev 5:4; Pss 36:4; 119:68; Isa 1:17; Jer 4:22; 13:23). This approach is adopted by many English versions: “Do you have any right to be angry?” (NIV); “Are you right to be angry?” (REB, NJB); “Is it right for you to be angry?” (NRSV, NLT); “Do you have good reason to be angry?” (NASB); “Do you do well to be angry?” (cf. KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV); “What right do you have to be angry?” (cf. TEV, CEV). (2) It may be used as an adverb meaning “well, utterly, thoroughly” (BDB 405 s.v. 3; HALOT 408 s.v. 5; e.g., Deut 9:21; 13:15; 17:4; 19:18; 27:8; 1 Sam 16:17; 2 Kgs 11:18; Prov 15:2; Isa 23:16; Jer 1:12; Ezek 33:32; Mic 7:3). This view is adopted by other English versions: “Are you that deeply grieved?” (JPS, NJPS); “Are you so angry?” (NEB). This is also the approach of the Tg. Jonah 4:4: “Are you that greatly angered?” Whether or not Jonah had the right to be angry about the death of the plant is a trivial issue. Instead the dialogue focuses on the depth of Jonah’s anger: he would rather be dead than alive (vv. 3, 8) and he concludes by saying that he was as angry as he could possibly be (v. 9; see note on עַד־מָוֶת [’ad-mavet, “to death”] in v. 9). the Lord then uses an a fortiori argument (from lesser to greater): Jonah was very upset that the plant had died (v. 10), likewise God was very concerned about averting the destruction of Nineveh (v. 11).

sn The use of the term יָטַב (yatab, “rightly, good”) creates a wordplay with its antonym רָעָה (raah, “evil, wrong”) which is used in 4:1 of Jonah’s bad attitude.

2 tn Heb “Does it burn to you?” The verb חָרָה (kharah, “to burn”) functions figuratively here (hypocatastasis) to refer to strong anger (BDB 354 s.v. חָרָה). The verb is repeated from v. 1 and will be used again in v. 9.

3 tn Heb “Does it burn so thoroughly to you?” or “Does it burn rightly to you?” See note on this expression in v. 4.

4 tn Heb “It thoroughly burns to me” or “It rightly burns to me.”

5 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.”



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