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Jonah 4:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— And it was vexing unto Jonah, with a great vexation,—and it angered him.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And it is grievous unto Jonah—a great evil—and he is displeased at it;
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— And Jonas was exceedingly troubled, and was angry:
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— But it displeased Ionah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— But Jonah{gr.Jonas} was very deeply grieved, and he was confounded.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— But it displeased Yonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
But it displeased y3415
[3415] Standard
A primitive root; properly to be broken up (with any violent action), that is, (figuratively) to fear.
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
(7489) Complement
A primitive root; properly to spoil (literally by breaking to pieces); figuratively to make (or be) good for nothing, that is, bad (physically, socially or morally). (associate selves and show self friendly are by mistake for H7462.).
(0413) Complement
(Used only in the shortened constructive form (the second form)); a primitive particle, properly denoting motion towards, but occasionally used of a quiescent position, that is, near, with or among; often in general, to.
Yn יוֹנָה 3124
{3124} Prime
The same as H3123; Jonah, an Israelite.
exceedingly, 1419
{1419} Prime
From H1431; great (in any sense); hence older; also insolent.
{7451} Prime
From H7489; bad or (as noun) evil (naturally or morally). This includes the second (feminine) form; as adjective or noun.
and he was very angry. 2734
{2734} Prime
A primitive root (compare H2787); to glow or grow warm; figuratively (usually) to blaze up, of anger, zeal, jealousy.
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Jonah 4:1

_ _ Jonah 4:1-11. Jonah frets at God’s mercy to Nineveh: Is reproved by the type of a gourd.

_ _ angry — literally, “hot,” probably, with grief or vexation, rather than anger [Fairbairn]. How sad the contrast between God’s feeling on the repentance of Nineveh towards Him, and Jonah’s feeling on the repentance of God towards Nineveh. Strange in one who was himself a monument of mercy on his repentance! We all, like him, need the lesson taught in the parable of the unforgiving, though forgiven, debtor (Matthew 18:23-35). Jonah was grieved because Nineveh’s preservation, after his denunciation, made him seem a false prophet [Calvin]. But it would make Jonah a demon, not a man, to have preferred the destruction of six hundred thousand men rather than that his prophecy should be set aside through God’s mercy triumphing over judgment. And God in that case would have severely chastised, whereas he only expostulates mildly with him, and by a mode of dealing, at once gentle and condescending, tries to show him his error. Moreover, Jonah himself, in apologizing for his vexation, does not mention the failure of his prediction as the cause: but solely the thought of God’s slowness to anger. This was what led him to flee to Tarshish at his first commission; not the likelihood then of his prediction being falsified; for in fact his commission then was not to foretell Nineveh’s downfall, but simply to “cry against” Nineveh’s “wickedness” as having “come up before God.” Jonah could hardly have been so vexed for the letter of his prediction failing, when the end of his commission had virtually been gained in leading Nineveh to repentance. This then cannot have been regarded by Jonah as the ultimate end of his commission. If Nineveh had been the prominent object with him, he would have rejoiced at the result of his mission. But Israel was the prominent aim of Jonah, as a prophet of the elect people. Probably then he regarded the destruction of Nineveh as fitted to be an example of God’s judgment at last suspending His long forbearance so as to startle Israel from its desperate degeneracy, heightened by its new prosperity under Jeroboam II at that very time, in a way that all other means had failed to do. Jonah, despairing of anything effectual being done for God in Israel, unless there were first given a striking example of severity, thought when he proclaimed the downfall of Nineveh in forty days, that now at last God is about to give such an example; so when this means of awakening Israel was set aside by God’s mercy on Nineveh’s repentance, he was bitterly disappointed, not from pride or mercilessness, but from hopelessness as to anything being possible for the reformation of Israel, now that his cherished hope is baffled. But God’s plan was to teach Israel, by the example of Nineveh, how inexcusable is their own impenitence, and how inevitable their ruin if they persevere. Repenting Nineveh has proved herself more worthy of God’s favor than apostate Israel; the children of the covenant have not only fallen down to, but actually below, the level of a heathen people; Israel, therefore, must go down, and the heathen rise above her. Jonah did not know the important lessons of hope to the penitent, and condemnation to those amidst outward privileges impenitent, which Nineveh’s preservation on repentance was to have for aftertimes, and to all ages. He could not foresee that Messiah Himself was thus to apply that history. A lesson to us that if we could in any particular alter the plan of Providence, it would not be for the better, but for the worse [Fairbairn].

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Jonah 4:1-4

_ _ See here, I. How unjustly Jonah quarrelled with God for his mercy to Nineveh, upon their repentance. This gives us occasion to suspect that Jonah had only delivered the message of wrath against the Ninevites, and had not at all assisted or encouraged them in their repentance, as one would think he should have done; for when they did repent, and found mercy,

_ _ 1. Jonah grudged them the mercy they found (Jonah 4:1): It displeased Jonah exceedingly; and (would you think it?) he was very angry, was in a great heat about it. It was very wrong, (1.) That he had so little government of himself as to be displeased and very angry; he had no rule over his own spirit, and therefore, as a city broken down, lay exposed to temptations and snares. (2.) That he had so little reverence of God as to be displeased and angry at what he did, as David was when the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza; whatever pleases God should please us, and, though we cannot account for it, yet we must acquiesce in it. (3.) That he had so little affection for men as to be displeased and very angry at the conversion of the Ninevites and their reception into the divine favour. This was the sin of the scribes and Pharisees, who murmured at our Saviour because he entertained publicans and sinners; but is our eye evil because his is good? But why was Jonah so uneasy at it, that the Ninevites repented and were spared? It cannot be expected that we should give any good reason for a thing so very absurd and unreasonable; no, nor any thing that has the face or colour of a reason; but we may conjecture what the provocation was. Hot spirits are usually high spirits. Only by pride comes contention both with God and man. It was a point of honour that Jonah stood upon and that made him angry. [1.] He was jealous for the honour of his country; the repentance and reformation of Nineveh shamed the obstinacy of Israel that repented not, but hated to be reformed; and the favour God had shown to these Gentiles, upon their repentance, was an ill omen to the Jewish nation, as if they should be (as at length they were) rejected and cast out of the church and the Gentiles substituted in their room. When it was intimated to St. Peter himself that he should make no difference between Jews and Gentiles he startled at the thing, and said, Not so, Lord; no marvel then that Jonah looked upon it with regret that Nineveh should become a favourite. Jonah herein had a zeal for God as the God of Israel in a particular manner, but not according to knowledge. Note, Many are displeased with God under pretence of concern for his glory. [2.] He was jealous for his own honour, fearing lest, if Nineveh was not destroyed within forty days, he should be accounted a false prophet, and stigmatized accordingly; whereas he needed not be under any discontent about that, for in the threatening of ruin it was implied that, for the preventing of it, they should repent, and, if they did, it should be prevented. And no one will complain of being deceived by him that is better than his word; and he would rather gain honour among them, by being instrumental to save them, than fall under any disgrace. But melancholy men (and such a one Jonah seems to have been) are apt to make themselves uneasy by fancying evils to themselves that are not, nor are ever likely to be. Most of our frets, as well as our frights, are owing to the power of imagination; and those are to be pitied as perfect bond-slaves that are under the power of such a tyrant.

_ _ 2. He quarreled with God about it. When his heart was hot within him, he spoke unadvisedly with his lips; and here he tells us what he said (Jonah 4:2, Jonah 4:3): He prayed unto the Lord, but it is a very awkward prayer, not like that which he prayed in the fish's belly; for affliction teaches us to pray submissively, which Jonah now forgot to do. Being in discontent, he applied to the duty of prayer, as he used to do in his troubles, but his corruptions got head of his graces, and, when he should have been praying for benefit by the mercy of God himself, he was complaining of the benefit others had by that mercy. Nothing could be spoken more unbecomingly. (1.) He now begins to justify himself in fleeing from the presence of the Lord, when he was first ordered to go to Nineveh, for which he had before, with good reason, condemned himself: “Lord,” said he, “was not this my saying when I was in my own country? Did I not foresee that if I went to preach to Nineveh they would repent, and thou wouldst forgive them, and then thy word would be reflected upon and reproached as yea and nay?” What a strange sort of man was Jonah, to dread the success of his ministry! Many have been tempted to withdraw from their work because they had despaired of doing good by it, but Jonah declined preaching because he was afraid of doing good by it; and still he persists in the same corrupt notion, for, it seems, the whale's belly itself could not cure him of it. It was his saying when he was in his own country, but it was a bad saying; yet here he stands to it, and, very unlike the other prophets, desires the woeful day which he had foretold and grieves because it does not come. Even Christ's disciples know not what manner of spirit they are of; those did not who wished for fire from heaven upon the city that did not receive them, much less did Jonah, who wished for fire from heaven upon the city that did receive him, Luke 9:55. Jonah thinks he has reason to complain of that, when it is done, which he was before afraid of; so hard is it to get a root of bitterness plucked out of the mind, when once it is fastened there. And why did Jonah expect that God would spare Nineveh? Because I knew that thou was a gracious God, indulgent and easily pleased, that thou wast slow to anger and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. All this is very true; and Jonah could not but know it by God's proclamation of his name and the experiences of all ages; but it is strange and very unaccountable that that which all the saints had made the matter of their joy and praise Jonah should make the matter of reflection upon God, as if that were an imperfection of the divine nature which is indeed the greatest glory of it — that God is gracious and merciful. The servant that said, I knew thee to be a hard man, said that which was false, and yet, had it been true, it was not the proper matter of a complaint; but Jonah, though he says what is true, yet, speaking it by way of reproach, speaks very absurdly. Those have a spirit of contention and contradiction indeed that can find in their hearts to quarrel with the goodness of God, and his sparing pardoning mercy, to which we all owe it that we are out of hell. This is making that to be to us a savour of death unto death which ought to be a savour of life unto life. (2.) In a passion, he wishes for death (Jonah 4:3), a strange expression of his causeless passion! “Now, O Lord! take, I beseech thee, my life from me. If Nineveh must live, let me die, rather than see thy word and mine disproved, rather than see the glory of Israel transferred to the Gentiles,” as if there were not grace enough in God both for Jews and Gentiles, or as if his countrymen were the further off from mercy for the Ninevites being taken into favour. When the prophet Elijah had laboured in vain, he wished he might die, and it was his infirmity, 1 Kings 19:4. But Jonah labours to good purpose, saves a great city from ruin, and yet wishes he may die, as if, having done much good, he were afraid of living to do more; he sees of the travail of his soul, and is dissatisfied. What a perverse spirit is mingled with every word he says! When Jonah was brought alive out of the whale's belly, he thought life a very valuable mercy, and was thankful to that God who brought up his life from corruption, (Jonah 2:6), and a great blessing his life had been to Nineveh; yet now, for that very reason, it became a burden to himself and he begs to be eased of it, pleading, It is better for me to die than to live. Such a word as this may be the language of grace, as it was in Paul, who desired to depart and be with Christ, which is far better; but here it was the language of folly, and passion, and strong corruption; and so much the worse, [1.] Jonah being now in the midst of his usefulness, and therefore fit to live. He was one whose ministry God wonderfully owned and prospered. The conversion of Nineveh might give him hopes of being instrumental to convert the whole kingdom of Assyria; it was therefore very absurd for him to wish he might die when he had a prospect of living to so good a purpose and could be so ill spared. [2.] Jonah being now so much out of temper and therefore unfit to die. How durst he think of dying, and going to appear before God's judgment-seat, when he was actually quarrelling with him? Was this a frame of spirit proper for a man to go out of the world in? But those who passionately desire death commonly have least reason to do it, as being very much unprepared for it. Our business is to get ready to die by doing the work of life, and then to refer ourselves to God to take away our life when and how he pleases.

_ _ II. See how justly God reproved Jonah for this heat that he was in (Jonah 4:4): The Lord said, Doest thou well to be angry? Is doing well a displeasure to thee? so some read it. What! dost thou repent of thy good deeds? God might justly have rejected him for this impious heat which he was in, might justly have taken him at his word, and have struck him dead when he wished to die; but he vouchsafes to reason with him for his conviction and to bring him to a better temper, as the father of the prodigal reasoned with his elder son, when, as Jonah here, he murmured at the remission and reception of his brother. Doest thou well to be angry? See how mildly the great God speaks to this foolish man, to teach us to restore those that have fallen with a spirit of meekness, and with soft answers to turn away wrath. God appeals to himself and to his own conscience: “Doest thou well? Thou knowest thou does not.” We should often put this question to ourselves, Is it well to say thus, to do thus? Can I justify it? Must I not unsay it and undo it again by repentance, or be undone forever? Ask, 1. Do I well to be angry? When passion is up, let it meet with this check, “Do I well to be so soon angry, so often angry, so long angry, to put myself into such a heat, and to give others such ill language in my anger? Is this well, that I suffer these headstrong passions to get dominion over me?” 2. “Do I well to be angry at the mercy of God to repenting sinners?” That was Jonah's crime. Do we do well to be angry at that which is so much for the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom among men — to be angry at that which angels rejoice in and for which abundant thanksgivings will be rendered to God? We do ill to be angry at that grace which we ourselves need and are undone without; if room were not left for repentance, and hope given of pardon upon repentance, what would become of us? Let the conversion of sinners, which is the joy of heaven, be our joy, and never our grief.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Jonah 4:1

It — The divine forbearance sparing Nineveh.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Jonah 4:1

But it displeased (a) Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

(a) Because by this he would be taken as a false prophet, and so the name of God, which he preached, would be blasphemed.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

Jonah 4:9 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.
Matthew 20:15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
Luke 7:39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw [it], he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman [this is] that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
Luke 15:28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
James 4:5-6 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? ... But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
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Jna 4:9. Mt 20:15. Lk 7:39; 15:28. Ac 13:46. Jm 4:5.

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