Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Ordinary B9


The wordA of the LordB came to JonahC a second time, saying, 

Notes on verse 1

A “word” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
B “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
C “Jonah” = Yonah. 19x in OT. From the same as yonah (dove or pigeon; used to refer to the exiles coming home, to describe sails of ships; also figuratively for mourning or as a description of beauty); perhaps from yayin (wine; root means to effervesce). This is Jonah, meaning dove.

2 “Get up,D goE to Nineveh,F

Notes on verse 2a

D “get up” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
E “go” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
F “Nineveh” = Nineveh. 17x in OT. From Akkadian Ninua or Old Babylonian Ninuwa; from nina (literally, a fish). This is Nineveh, meaning house of fish. This could be a literal reference to fish or a reference to the goddess Ishtar. See

that greatG city,H and proclaimI to it the messageJ that I tellK you.” 

Notes on verse 2b

G “great” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
H “city” = iyr. From uwr (to awaken or wake oneself up). This can mean excitement in the sense of wakefulness or city. Properly, this is a place that is guarded. Guards kept schedules according to watches. This sense of the word would include cities as well as encampments or posts that were guarded.
I “proclaim” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
J “message” = qeriah. Related to “proclaim” in v2. 1x in OT. From qara (see note I above). This is proclamation or preaching.
K “tell” = dabar. Related to “word” in v1. See note A above.

So Jonah set outL and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly largeM city, a three days’ walkN across. 

Notes on verse 3

L “set out” = qum. Same as “get up” in v2. See note D above.
M “exceedingly large” = gadol + elohim. Gadol is the same as “great” in v2. See note G above. Elohim is used as a word for God or gods in plural. It can also mean mighty, ruler, great, or exceedingly.
N “walk” = mahalak. Related to “go” in v2. 4x in OT. From halak (see note E above). This is a walk, journey, passage, or distance.

Jonah beganO to go into the city, going aP day’s walk. And he cried out,Q “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”R 

Notes on verse 4

O “began” = chalal. This is to pierce, which implies to wound. It is used figuratively for making someone or something profane or breaking your word. It can also mean to begin as though one opened a wedge. Also, to eat something as a common thing.
P “a” = echad. Perhaps from achad (to unify, continue on a path; figuratively, to gather one’s thoughts). This is the number one, first, united. It can also be alone, altogether, a certain, a few.
Q “cried out” = qara. Same as “proclaimed” in v2. See note I above.
R “overthrown” = haphak. This is to turn, overturn, change, return, turn over, pervert.

And the peopleS of Nineveh believedT God;U

Notes on verse 5a

S “people” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
T “believed” = aman. This is to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful. It is to put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid. This is where the word “amen” comes from.
U “God” = Elohim. Same as “exceedingly” in v3. See note M above.

they proclaimed a fast,V and everyone, greatW and small,X put onY sackcloth.Z

Notes on verse 5b

V “fast” = tsom. From tsum (properly, covering one’s mouth; by extension, abstaining from food). This is fasting or a fast.
W “great” = gadol. Same as “great” in v2. See note G above.
X “small” = qatan. From quwt (grieved, cut off, to detest). This is least, small, young, little one. It is literally smaller whether in amount or size. Figuratively it is smaller in the sense of younger or less important.
Y “put on” = labash. This is to wrap around, which implies clothing oneself or someone else. This is wrapping around in a literal or figurative way.
Z “sackcloth” = saq. Perhaps from shaqaq (to run, rush; by implication having an appetite, seeking greedily). This is sack or sackcloth used as bags for grain and so on. Also worn during times or mourning or when seeking humility. The word “sack” in English is derived from this Semitic root.

10 When God sawAA what they did,BB how they turnedCC from their evilDD ways,EE

Notes on verse 10a

AA “saw” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
BB “what…did” = maaseh. From asah (to do, make, accomplish, become). This is a word – any action whether positive or negative. It can also be a transaction, construction, activity, property, or something that is produced.
CC “turned” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
DD “evil” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.
EE “ways” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.

God changed his mindFF about the calamityGG that he had saidHH he would bringII upon them; and he did not doJJ it.

Notes on verse 10b

FF “changed…mind” = nacham. Properly, this is a strong breath or a sigh. This can be to be sorry, to pity, console. Comfort, or repent. But, one can also comfort oneself with less righteous thoughts, so this can also mean to avenge oneself.
GG “calamity” = ra’. Same as “evil” in v10. See note DD above.
HH “said” = dabar. Same as “tell” in v2. See note K above.
II “bring” = asah. Related to “what…did” in v10. See note BB above.
JJ “do” = asah. Same as “bring” in v10. See note II above.

Image credit: “Artist’s impression of Assyrian palaces from The Monuments of Nineveh by Sir Austen Henry Layard, 1853.” “The Monuments of Nineveh, Vol 2 – Plate 1 – The Palaces of Nimroud Restored”

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