King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Jonah 4

Jonah repines at God’s mercy to Nineveh, and is reproved. (1-4) He is taught by the withering of a gourd, that he did wrong. (5-11)

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Jonah repines at God’s mercy to Nineveh, and is reproved

1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

2 And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

4 Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?

He is taught by the withering of a gourd, that he did wrong

5 So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

6 And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

10 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:

11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Troubled. His concern was lest he should pass for a false prophet; or rather lest God’s word, by this occasion might come to be slighted and disbelieved. Ch. — He conjectured that God would spare the penitent Ninivites, and feared lest prophecies should be deemed uncertain. But this doubt is solved by observing that some are conditional, (C. iii. 4. Jer. xviii. 8.) as it proved here. When the people relapsed, they were afterwards destroyed. Nah. i. &c. W. C. iii. 10. — The conversion of Ninive was an earnest of that of the Gentiles. C. — This being so intimately connected with the reprobation of the Jews, (H.) the prophet was grieved at the misery of the latter, (S. Jer.) which our Saviour and S. Paul bewailed. Acts xi. 2. Rom. x. 19. Lu. xix. &c. Yet Jonas seems to have considered himself rather too much.

Ver. 5. Went, or “had gone,” waiting for the city’s ruin. C.

Ver. 6. The Lord God prepared an ivy. Hederam. In the Heb. it is kikajon, which some render a gourd; others a palmerist, or palma Christi. Ch. — This latter is now the common opinion. S. Jerom explains it of a shrub growing very fast in the sandy places of Palestine. He did not pretend (C.) that hedera, or ivy, as Aquila translates, (H.) was the precise import; but he found no Latin term more resembling, (C.) as he observes here and in his letter to S. Aug. who had informed him that a certain bishop of Africa having read his version publicly, the audience was surprised at the change; and the Jews, “either through ignorance or malice,” decided in favour of the old Greek and Latin version of gourd, which Prot. retain. H. — But this does not grow so soon no more than the ivy. The palma Christi, or ricinus, does. The Egyptians call it kiki, and the Greeks selicy prion. See Pliny xv. 7. Its foliage is thick, and its trunk hollow. C. — But how came S. Jerom to be unacquainted with this plant? or why did he substitute one false name for another?

Ver. 8. Hot. Heb. also, “eastern and sultry,” (H.) or silent, (C.) which instead of refreshing, served only to increase the heat, (H.) and to raise dust. Sept. Syr. &c. agree with the Vulg.

Ver. 9. Death. The spirit of prophecy changes not the temper. C. — Jonas had reason to be grieved, and so had God to shew mercy. In this history and prediction, who would have thought that Jonas had been a figure of our Saviour’s death and resurrection, if he himself had not declared it? Mat. xii. W. — The prophet comes out of the fish alive, as Christ does from the tomb. He was cast into the sea to save those on board; Christ dies for the redemption of mankind. Jonas had been ordered to preach, but did not comply till after his escape; thus the gospel was designed to be preached to the Gentiles, yet Christ would not have it done till he had risen. Mat. xv. 26. The prophet’s grief intimates the jealousy of the Jews; as his shade destroyed, points out the law, which leaves them in the greatest distress. The very name fish, ichthus, is a monogram of “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a Saviour, (C.) or crucified.” H. S. Paulinus, ep. 33. — Hence Jonas most strikingly foreshowed Christ. S. Aug. de civ. Dei. xviii. 30.