Wesley's Notes on the Bible
And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
3:3 Exceeding great - The greatest city of the known world at that day, it was then in its flourishing state greater than Babylon, whose compass was three hundred eighty - five furlongs, but Nineveh was in compass, four hundred and eighty. It is said, her walls were an hundred foot in height, her walls broad enough for three coaches to meet, and safely pass by each other; that it had fifteen hundred towers on its walls, each two hundred foot high, and one million, four hundred thousand men employed for eight years to build it. Of three days journey - To walk round the walls, allowing twenty miles to each day's journey.
And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
3:4 Shall be overthrown - The threat is express. But there was a reserve with God, on condition of repentance.
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
3:5 From the greatest - Great and small, rich and poor.
For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
3:6 The king - Probably Phul Belochus. His robe - Put off his rich apparel.
And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
3:7 Taste any thing - Man and beast are to forbear to eat and drink, that the fast might be most solemn, that the cry of man, seconded with the cry of hungry cattle, might enter the ears of God, who preserveth man and beast.
But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
3:8 And beast - Their horses and camels, both which they adorned with rich and costly clothing, they must now in testimony of an hearty repentance, clothe with sackcloth; the clothing of beasts must witness for men. The violence - Oppression and rapine. In their hands - Which are practised by them.
Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.