Jonah 4:9
And God said to Jonah, Do you well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even to death.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Doest thou well . . .?—See Note to Jonah 4:4. Jonah was really hurt at the loss of his shade, not sorry for the destruction of the gourd. But it is very true to nature that the moment a worthier excuse is suggested, he accepts it, without perceiving that by so doing he prepared the way for his own condemnation. The lesson is to all who would sacrifice the cause of humanity to some professional or theological difficulty.

4:5-11 Jonah went out of the city, yet remained near at hand, as if he expected and desired its overthrow. Those who have fretful, uneasy spirits, often make troubles for themselves, that they may still have something to complain of. See how tender God is of his people in their afflictions, even though they are foolish and froward. A thing small in itself, yet coming seasonably, may be a valuable blessing. A gourd in the right place may do us more service than a cedar. The least creatures may be great plagues, or great comforts, as God is pleased to make them. Persons of strong passions are apt to be cast down with any trifle that crosses them, or to be lifted up with a trifle that pleases them. See what our creature-comforts are, and what we may expect them to be; they are withering things. A small worm at the root destroys a large gourd: our gourds wither, and we know not what is the cause. Perhaps creature-comforts are continued to us, but are made bitter; the creature is continued, but the comfort is gone. God prepared a wind to make Jonah feel the want of the gourd. It is just that those who love to complain, should never be left without something to complain of. When afflicting providences take away relations, possessions, and enjoyments, we must not be angry at God. What should especially silence discontent, is, that when our gourd is gone, our God is not gone. Sin and death are very dreadful, yet Jonah, in his heat, makes light of both. One soul is of more value than the whole world; surely then one soul is of more value than many gourds: we should have more concern for our own and others' precious souls, than for the riches and enjoyments of this world. It is a great encouragement to hope we shall find mercy with the Lord, that he is ready to show mercy. And murmurers shall be made to understand, that how willing soever they are to keep the Divine grace to themselves and those of their own way, there is one Lord over all, who is rich in mercy to all that call upon him. Do we wonder at the forbearance of God towards his perverse servant? Let us study our own hearts and ways; let us not forget our own ingratitude and obstinacy; and let us be astonished at God's patience towards us.Doest thou well to be angry? - o "See again how Almighty God, out of His boundless lovingkindness, with the yearning tenderness of a father, almost disporteth with the guileless souls of the saints! The palm-christ shades him: the prophet rejoices in it exceedingly. Then, in God's Providence, the caterpillar attacks it, the burning East wind smites it, showing at the same time how very necessary the relief of its shade, that the prophet might be the more grieved, when deprived of such a good. He asketh him skillfully, was he very grieved? and that for a shrub? He confesseth, and this becometh the defense for God, the Lover of mankind."

I do well to be angry, unto death - o "Vehement anger leadeth men to long and love to die, especially if thwarted and unable to remove the hindrance which angers them. For then vehement anger begetteth vehement sorrow, grief, despondency." We have each, his own palm-christ; and our palm-christ has its own worm . "In Jonah, who mourned when he had discharged his office, we see those who, in what they seem to do for God, either do not seek the glory of God, but some end of their own, or at least, think that glory to lie where it does not. For he who seeketh the glory of God, and not his own Philippians 2:21. things, but those of Jesus Christ, ought to will what God hath willed and done. If he wills aught else, he declares plainly that he sought himself, not God, or himself more than God. Jonah sought the glory of God wherein it was not, in the fulfillment of a prophecy of woe. And choosing to be led by his own judgment, not by God's, whereas he ought to have joyed exceedingly, that so many thousands, being "dead, were alive again," being "lost, were found," he, when "there was joy in heaven among the angels of God over" so many repenting sinners, was "afflicted with a great affliction" and was angry.

This ever befalls those who wish "that" to take place, not what is best and most pleasing to God, but what they think most useful to themselves. Whence we see our very great and common error, who think our peace and tranquility to lie in the fulfillment of our own will, whereas this will and judgment of our own is the cause of all our trouble. So then Jonah prays and tacitly blames God, and would not so much excuse as approve that, his former flight, to "Him Whose eyes are too pure to behold iniquity." And since all inordinate affection is a punishment to itself, and he who departeth from the order of God hath no stability, he is in such anguish, because what he wills, will not be, that he longs to die. For it cannot but be that "his" life, who measures everything by his own will and mind, and who followeth not God as his Guide but rather willeth to be the guide of the Divine Will, should be from time to time troubled with great sorrow.

But since "the merciful and gracious Lord" hath pity on our infirmity and gently admonisheth us within, when He sees us at variance with Him, He forsakes not Jonah in that hot grief, but lovingly blames him. How restless such men are, we see from Jonah. The "palm-christ" grows over his head, and "he was exceeding glad of the palm-christ." Any labor or discomfort they bear very ill, and being accustomed to endure nothing and follow their own will, they are tormented and cannot bear it, as Jonah did not the sun. If anything, however slight, happen to lighten their grief, they are immoderately glad. Soon gladdened, soon grieved, like children. They have not learned to bear anything moderately. What marvel then that their joy is soon turned into sorrow? They are joyed over a palm-christ, which soon greeneth, soon drieth, quickly falls to the ground and is trampled upon. Such are the things of this world, which, while possessed, seem great and lasting; when suddenly lost, men see how vain and passing they are, and that hope is to be placed, not in them but in their Creator, who is Unchangeable. It is then a great dispensation of God toward us, when those things in which we took special pleasure are taken away. Nothing can man have so pleasing, green, and, in appearance, so lasting, which has not its own worm prepared by God, whereby, in the dawn, it may be smitten and die. The change of human will or envy disturbs court favor; manifold accidents, wealth; the varying opinion of the people or of the great, honors; disease, danger, poverty, infamy, pleasure. Jonah's palm-christ had one worm; our's have many; if others were lacking, there is the restlessness of man's own thoughts, whose food is restlessness."

9. (See on [1149]Jon 4:4).

I do well to be angry, even unto death—"I am very much grieved, even to death" [Fairbairn]. So the Antitype (Mt 26:38).

Doest thou well to be angry? see Jonah 4:4.

For the gourd: God adds this to the same question before proposed, that Jonah might be his own judge, and at once condemn his own passions, justify God’s patience and mercy, and submit himself with satisfaction in that God had spared Nineveh.

And he, Jonah, said; passionately answers for himself: whereas he was silent, Jonah 4:4, now he is out of all patience, and quarrels highly against God, who had spared Nineveh, which Jonah thought should have been consumed as Sodom, or as the old world; but he feels in himself a heat almost as devouring as he wished to the Ninevites; thus unexpectedly crossed he flies out against God himself.

I do well to be angry, even unto death; if in the violence of this passion I should die, (as we know some have,) yet I were not to blame: thus he tacitly chargeth God with hardly using Jonah, and breaking his heart, though he had come a long journey to deliver a message he would fain have been excused from. So exorbitant and unreasonable is Jonah’s anger. And God said to Jonah, dost thou well to be angry for the gourd?.... Or, "art thou very angry for it?" as the Targum: no mention is made of the blustering wind and scorching sun, because the gourd or plant raised up over him would have protected him from the injuries of both, had it continued; and it was for the loss of that that Jonah was so displeased, and in such a passion. This question is put in order to draw out the following answer, and so give an opportunity of improving this affair to the end for which it was designed:

and he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death; or, "I am very angry unto death", as the Targum; I am so very angry that I cannot live under it for fretting and vexing; and it is right for me to be so, though I die with the passion of it: how ungovernable are the passions of men, and to what insolence do they rise when under the power of them!

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

(g) This declares the great inconveniences into which God's servants fall when they give place to their own affections, and do not in all things willingly submit themselves to God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. even unto death] “Art thou rightly angry for the palmchrist? I am rightly angry, (and that) unto death:” i. e. “my anger is so great that it well-nigh kills me, and even in that excess it is justified by the circumstances.” In like manner it is said of Samson that “his soul was vexed unto death” by the urgency of Delilah (Jdg 16:16), and our Lord exclaims in the garden, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matthew 26:38), where Alford observes, “Our Lord’s soul was crushed down even to death by the weight of that anguish which lay upon Him—and that literally—so that He (as regards His humanity) would have died, had not strength (bodily strength upholding His human frame) been ministered from on high by an angel, Luke 22:43.” The question in its more general form, “Doest thou well to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4) is here narrowed to a single issue, “Doest thou well to be angry for the palmchrist?” And Jonah, in his unreasoning irritation, accepts and answers it on that single issue, and thus unwrittingly prepares the way for the unanswerable argument which follows.Verse 9. - God said. Keil and others have noted the variety in the use of the names of God in this passage (vers. 6-9). The production of the gourd is attributed to Jehovah-Elohim (ver. 6), a composite name, which serves to mark the transition from Jehovah in ver. 4 to Elohim in vers. 7 and 8. Jehovah, who replies to the prophet's complaint (ver. 4), prepares the plant as Elohim the Creator, and the worm as ha-Elohim the personal God. Elohim, the Ruler of nature, sends the east wind to correct the prophet's impatience; and in ver. 10 Jehovah sums up the history and teaches the lesson to be learned from it. Doest thou well to be angry? The same tender expostulation as in ver. 4. I do well to be angry, even unto death. I am right to be angry, so that my anger almost kills me. Deprived of the shelter of the gourd, Jonah is immediately depressed, and in his unreasoning anger defends himself against the reproaches of God's voice within him. Septuagint, Σφόδρα λελύπημαι ἐγὼ ἑως θανάτου "I am greatly grieved even unto death," which reminds one of our Lord's words in the garden (Mark 14:34). The short, cursory explanation of the reason for the lamentation opened here, is followed in Amos 5:4. by the more elaborate proof, that Israel has deserved to be destroyed, because it has done the very opposite of what God demands of His people. God requires that they should seek Him, and forsake idolatry, in order to live (Amos 5:4-6); but Israel on the contrary, turns right into unrighteousness, without fearing the almighty God and His judgment (Amos 5:7-9). This unrighteousness God must punish (Amos 5:10-12). Amos 5:4. "For thus saith Jehovah to the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and live. Amos 5:5. And seek not Bethel, and come not to Gilgal, and go not over to Beersheba: for Gilgal repays it with captivity, and Bethel comes to nought. Amos 5:6. Seek Jehovah, and live; that He fall not upon the house of Joseph like fire, and it devour, and there be none to quench it for Bethel." The kı̄ in Amos 5:4 is co-ordinate to that in Amos 5:3, "Seek me, and live," for "Seek me, so shall ye live." For this meaning of two imperatives, following directly the one upon the other, see Gesenius, 130, 2, and Ewald, 347, b. חיה, not merely to remain alive, not to perish, but to obtain possession of true life. God can only be sought, however, in His revelation, or in the manner in which He wishes to be sought and worshipped. This explains the antithesis, "Seek not Bethel," etc. In addition to Bethel and Gilgal (see at Amos 4:4), Beersheba, which was in the southern part of Judah, is also mentioned here, being the place where Abraham had called upon the Lord (Genesis 21:33), and where the Lord had appeared to Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 26:24 and Genesis 46:1; see also at Genesis 21:31). These sacred reminiscences from the olden time had caused Beersheba to be made into a place of idolatrous worship, to which the Israelites went on pilgrimage beyond the border of their own kingdom (עבר). But visiting these idolatrous places of worship did no good, for the places themselves would be given up to destruction. Gilgal would wander into captivity (an expression used here on account of the similarity in the ring of גּלגּל and גּלה יגלה). Bethel would become 'âven, that is to say, not "an idol" here, but "nothingness," though there is an allusion to the change of Beth-el (God's house) into Beth-'âven (an idol-house; see at Hosea 4:15). The Judaean Beersheba is passed over in the threat, because the primary intention of Amos is simply to predict the destruction of the kingdom of the ten tribes. After this warning the prophet repeats the exhortation to seek Jehovah, and adds this threatening, "that Jehovah come not like fire upon the house of Joseph" (tsâlach, generally construed with ‛al or 'el, cf. Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14; 1 Samuel 10:6; here with an accusative, to fall upon a person), "and it (the fire) devour, without there being any to extinguish it for Bethel." Bethel, as the chief place of worship in Israel, is mentioned here for the kingdom itself, which is called the "house of Joseph," from Joseph the father of Ephraim, the most powerful tribe in that kingdom.

To add force to this warning, Amos (Amos 5:7-9) exhibits the moral corruption of the Israelites, in contrast with the omnipotence of Jehovah as it manifests itself in terrible judgments. Amos 5:7. "They that change right into wormwood, and bring righteousness down to the earth. Amos 5:8. He that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into morning, and darkeneth day to night: that calleth to the waters of the sea, and poureth them over the surface of the earth; Jehovah is His name. Amos 5:9. Who causeth desolation to flash upon the strong, and desolation cometh upon the fortress." The sentences in Amos 5:7 and Amos 5:8 are written without any connecting link. The participle in Amos 5:7 cannot be taken as an address, for it is carried on in the third person (hinnı̄chū), not in the second. And hahōphekhı̄m (who turn) cannot be in apposition to Beth-el, since the latter refers not to the inhabitants, but to the houses. As Amos is generally fond of a participial construction (cf. Amos 2:7; Amos 4:13), so in a spirited address he likes to utter the thoughts one after another without any logical link of connection. As a matter of fact, hahōphekhı̄m is connected with bēth-yōsēph (the house of Joseph), "Seek the Lord, ye of the house of Joseph, who turn right into wrong;" but instead of this connection, he proceeds with a simple description, They are turning," etc. La‛ănâh, wormwood, a bitter plant, is a figurative term denoting bitter wrong (cf. Amos 6:12), the actions of men being regarded, according to Deuteronomy 29:17, as the fruits of their state of mind. Laying righteousness on the ground (hinnı̄ăch from nūăch) answers to our "trampling under feet." Hitzig has correctly explained the train of thought in Amos 5:7 and Amos 5:8 : "They do this, whereas Jehovah is the Almighty, and can bring destruction suddenly upon them." To show this antithesis, the article which takes the place of the relative is omitted from the participles ‛ōsēh and hōphēkh. The description of the divine omnipotence commences with the creation of the brightly shining stars; then follow manifestations of this omnipotence, which are repeated in the government of the world. Kı̄mâh, lit., the crowd, is the group of seven stars, the constellation of the Pleiades. Kesı̄l, the gate, according to the ancient versions the giant, is the constellation of Orion. The two are mentioned together in Job 9:9 and Job 38:31 (see Delitzsch on the latter). And He also turns the darkest night into morning, and darkens the day into night again. These words refer to the regular interchange of day and night; for tsalmâveth, the shadow of death, i.e., thick darkness, never denotes the regularly recurring gloominess of night, but the appalling gloom of night (Job 24:17), more especially of the night of death (Job 3:5; Job 10:21-22; Job 38:17; Psalm 44:20), the unlighted depth of the heart of the earth (Job 28:3), the darkness of the prison (Psalm 107:10, Psalm 107:14), also of wickedness (Job 12:22; Job 34:22), of sufferings (Job 16:16; Jeremiah 13:16; Psalm 23:4), and of spiritual misery (Isaiah 9:1). Consequently the words point to the judicial rule of the Almighty in the world. As the Almighty turns the darkness of death into light, and the deepest misery into prosperity and health,

(Note: Theodoret has given a correct explanation, though he does not quite exhaust the force of the words: "It is easy for Him to turn even the greatest dangers into happiness; for by the shadow of death he means great dangers. And it is also easy to bring calamity upon those who are in prosperity.")

so He darkens the bright day of prosperity into the dark night of adversity, and calls to the waters of the sea to pour themselves over the earth like the flood, and to destroy the ungodly. The idea that by the waters of the sea, which pour themselves out at the call of God over the surface of the earth, we are to understand the moisture which rises from the sea and then falls upon the earth as rain, no more answers to the words themselves, than the idea expressed by Hitzig, that they refer to the water of the rivers and brooks, which flow out of the sea as well as into it (Ecclesiastes 1:7). The words suggest the thought of terrible inundations of the earth by the swelling of the sea, and the allusion to the judgment of the flood can hardly be overlooked. This judicial act of the Almighty, no strong man and no fortress can defy. With the swiftness of lightning He causes desolation to smite the strong man. Bâlag, lit., micare, used in the Arabic to denote the lighting up of the rays of the dawn, hiphil to cause to light up, is applied here to motion with the swiftness of lightning; it is also employed in a purely metaphorical sense for the lighting up of the countenance (Psalm 39:14; Job 9:27; Job 10:20). In Amos 5:9 the address is continued in a descriptive form; יבוא has not a causative meaning. The two clauses of this verse point to the fate which awaits the Israelites who trust in their strength and their fortifications (Amos 6:13). And yet they persist in unrighteousness.

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