on Jonah 3 :6
Word came unto the king - This, some think, was Pul; others, Sardanapalus his son, king of Assyria, who flourished in the reign of Jeroboam the Second: but it seems more probable that the monarch here alluded to was a king of Assyria contemporary with Joash, king of Judah. It was by the decree of the king that the fast was instituted, and became general.
on Jonah 3 :6
For word came - , rather, "And the matter came," i. e., the "whole account," as we say. "The word, word," throughout Holy Scripture, as in so many languages stands for that which is reported of. "The whole account," namely, how this stranger, in strange austere attire, had come, what had happened to him before he came, how he preached, how the people had believed him, what they had done, as had just been related, "came to the king." The form of words implies that what Jonah relates in this verse took place after what had been mentioned before. People are slow to carry to sovereigns matters of distress, in which they cannot help. This was no matter of peril from man, in which the counsel or energy of the king could be of use. Anyhow it came to him last. But when it came to him, he disdained not to follow the example of those below him. He was not jealous of his prerogative, or that his advice had not been had; but, in the common peril, acted as his subjects had, and humbled himself as they did. Yet this king was the king of Nineveh, the king, whose name was dreaded far and wide, whose will none who disputed, prospered . "He who was accounted and was the greatest of the kings of the earth, was not held back by any thought of his own splendor, greatness or dignity, from fleeing as a suppliant to the mercy of God, and inciting others by his example to the same earnesthess." The kings of Assyria were religious, according to their light. They ascribed all their victories to their god, Asshur . When the king came to hear of One who had a might such as he had not seen, he believed in Him.
And he arose from his throne - He lost no time; he heard, "and he arose" . "It denotes great earnestness, haste, diligence." "And he laid his robe from him." This was the large costly upper garment, so called from its amplitude It is the name of the goodly Babylonian garment Joshua 7:21 which Achan coveted. As worn by kings, it was the most magnificent part of their dress, and a special part of their state. Kings were buried as they lived, in splendid apparel; and rich adornments were buried with them. The king of Nineveh dreads no charge of precipitancy nor man's judgment . "He exchanges purple, gold, gems for the simple rough and sordid sackcloth, and his throne for the most abject ashes, the humblest thing he could do, fulfilling a deeper degree of humility than is related of the people."
Strange credulity, had Jonah's message not been true; strange madness of unbelief which does not repent when a Greater than Jonah cries Matthew 4:17, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Strange garb for the king, in the eyes of a luxurious age; acceptable in His who said Matthew 11:21, "if the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes" . "Many wish to repent, yet so as not to part with their luxuries or the vanity of their dress, like the Greek who said he would 'like to be a philosopher, yet in a few things, not altogether.' To whom we may answer, 'delicate food and costly dress agree not with penitence; and that is no great grief which never comes to light'" . "It was a marvelous thing, that purple was outvied by sackcloth. Sackcloth availed, what the purple robe availed not. What the diadem accomplished not, the ashes accomplished. Seest thou, I said not groundlessly that we should fear, not fasting but drunkenness and satiety? For drunkenness and satiety shook the city through and through, and were about to overthrow it; when it was reeling and about to fall, fasting stablished it" . "The king had conquered enemies by valor; he conquered God by humility. Wise king, who, for the saving of his people, owns himself a sinner rather than a king. He forgets that he is a king, fearing God, the King of all; he remembereth not his own power, coming to own the power of the Godhead. Marvelous! While he remembereth not that he is a king of men, he beginneth to be a king of righteousness. The prince, becoming religious, lost not his empire but changed it. Before, he held the princedom of military discipline; now, he obtained the princedom in heavenly disciplines."
on Jonah 3 :6
3:6 The king - Probably Phul Belochus. His robe - Put off his rich apparel.