on Jonah 1 :1
Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah - All that is certainly known about this prophet has already been laid before the reader. He was of Gath-hepher, in the tribe of Zebulun, in lower Galilee, Joshua 19:13; and he prophesied in the reigns of Jeroboam the Second, and Joash, kings of Israel. Jeroboam came to the throne eight hundred and twenty-three years before the Christian era, and reigned in Samaria forty-one years, 2 Kings 14:23-25. As a prophet, it is likely that he had but this one mission.
on Jonah 1 :1
Now the word of the Lord - , literally, "And, ..." This is the way in which the several inspired writers of the Old Testament mark that what it was given them to write was united onto those sacred books which God had given to others to write, and it formed with them one continuous whole. The word, "And," implies this. It would do so in any language, and it does so in Hebrew as much as in any other. As neither we, nor any other people, would, without any meaning, use the word, And, so neither did the Hebrews. It joins the four first books of Moses together; it carries on the history through Joshua, Judges, the Books of Samuel and of the Kings. After the captivity, Ezra and Nehemiah begin again where the histories before left off; the break of the captivity is bridged over; and Ezra, going back in mind to the history of God's people before the captivity, resumes the history, as if it had been of yesterday, "And in the first year of Cyrus." It joins in the story of the Book of Ruth before the captivity, and that of Esther afterward. At times, even prophets employ it, in using the narrative form of themselves, as Ezekiel, "and it was in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, and I was in the captivity by the river of Chebar, the heavens opened and I saw." If a prophet or historian wishes to detach his prophecy or his history, he does so; as Ezra probably began the Book of Chronicles anew from Adam, or as Daniel makes his prophecy a whole by itself. But then it is the more obvious that a Hebrew prophet or historian, when he does begin with the word, "And," has an object in so beginning; he uses an universal word of all languages in its uniform meaning in all language, to join things together.
And yet more precisely; this form, "and the word of the Lord came to - saying," occurs over and over again, stringing together the pearls of great price of God's revelations, and uniting this new revelation to all those which had preceded it. The word, "And," then joins on histories with histories, revelations with revelations, uniting in one the histories of God's works and words, and blending the books of Holy Scripture into one divine book.
But the form of words must have suggested to the Jews another thought, which is part of our thankfulness and of our being Acts 11:18, "then to the Gentiles also hath God given repentance unto life." The words are the self-same familiar words with which some fresh revelation of God's will to His people had so often been announced. Now they are prefixed to God's message to the pagan, and so as to join on that message to all the other messages to Israel. Would then God deal thenceforth with the pagan as with the Jews? Would they have their prophets? Would they be included in the one family of God? The mission of Jonah in itself was an earnest that they would, for God. Who does nothing fitfully or capriciously, in that He had begun, gave an earnest that He would carry on what He had begun. And so thereafter, the great prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, were prophets to the nations also; Daniel was a prophet among them, to them as well as to their captives.
But the mission of Jonah might, so far, have been something exceptional. The enrolling his book, as an integral part of the Scriptures, joining on that prophecy to the other prophecies to Israel, was an earnest that they were to be parts of one system. But then it would be significant also, that the records of God's prophecies to the Jews, all embodied the accounts of their impenitence. Here is inserted among them an account of God's revelation to the pagan, and their repentance. "So many prophets had been sent, so many miracles performed, so often had captivity been foreannounced to them for the multitude of their sins. and they never repented. Not for the reign of one king did they cease from the worship of the calves; not one of the kings of the ten tribes departed from the sins of Jeroboam? Elijah, sent in the Word and Spirit of the Lord, had done many miracles, yet obtained no abandonment of the calves. His miracles effected this only, that the people knew that Baal was no god, and cried out, "the Lord He is the God." Elisha his disciple followed him, who asked for a double portion of the Spirit of Elijah, that he might work more miracles, to bring back the people.
He died, and, after his death as before it, the worship of the calves continued in Israel. The Lord marveled and was weary of Israel, knowing that if He sent to the pagan they would bear, as he saith to Ezekiel. To make trial of this, Jonah was chosen, of whom it is recorded in the Book of Kings that he prophesied the restoration of the border of Israel. When then he begins by saying, "And the word of the Lord came to Jonah," prefixing the word "And," he refers us back to those former things, in this meaning. The children have not hearkened to what the Lord commanded, sending to them by His servants the prophets, but have hardened their necks and given themselves up to do evil before the Lord and provoke Him to anger; "and" therefore "the word of the Lord came to Jonah, saying, Arise and go to Nineveh that great city, and preach unto her," that so Israel may be shewn, in comparison with the pagan, to be the more guilty, when the Ninevites should repent, the children of Israel persevered in unrepentance."
Jonah the son of Amittai - Both names occur here only in the Old Testament, Jonah signifies "Dove," Amittai, "the truth of God." Some of the names of the Hebrew prophets so suit in with their times, that they must either have been given them propheticly, or assumed by themselves, as a sort of watchword, analogous to the prophetic names, given to the sons of Hosea and Isaiah. Such were the names of Elijah and Elisha, "The Lord is my God," "my God is salvation." Such too seems to be that of Jonah. The "dove" is everywhere the symbol of "mourning love." The side of his character which Jonah records is that of his defect, his want of trust in God, and so his unloving zeal against those, who were to be the instruments of God against his people. His name perhaps preserves that character by which he willed to be known among his people, one who moaned or mourned over them.
on Jonah 1 :1