on Jonah 4 :6
And the Lord God prepared a gourd - I believe this should be rendered in the preterpluperfect tense. The Lord Had prepared this plant, קיקיון kikayon. It had in the course of God's providence been planted and grown up in that place, though perhaps not yet in full leaf; and Jonah made that his tent. And its thick branches and large leaves made it an ample shelter for him, and because it was such, he rejoiced greatly on the account. But what was the kikayon? The best judges say the ricinus or palma Christi, from which we get what is vulgarly called castor oil, is meant. It is a tree as large as the olive, has leaves which are like those of the vine, and is also quick of growth. This in all probability was the plant in question, which had been already planted, though it had not attained its proper growth, and was not then in full leaf. Celsus, in his Hierobot., says it grows to the height of an olive tree; the trunk and branches are hollow like a kex, and the leaves sometimes as broad as the rim of a hat. It must be of a soft or spongy substance, for it is said to grow surprisingly fast. See Taylor under the root קיק , 1670. But it is evident there was something supernatural in the growth of this plant, for it is stated to have come up in a night; though the Chaldee understands the passage thus: "It was here last night, and it withered this night." In one night it might have blown and expanded its leaves considerably, though the plant had existed before, but not in full bloom till the time that Jonah required it for a shelter.
on Jonah 4 :6
And the Lord God prepared a gourd - , (a palm-christ, English margin, rightly.) . "God again commanded the gourd, as he did the whale, willing only that this should be. Forthwith it springs up beautiful and full of flower, and straightway was a roof to the whole booth, and anoints him so to speak with joy, with its deep shade. The prophet rejoices at it exceedingly, as being a great and thankworthy thing. See now herein too the simplicity of his mind. For he was grieved exceedingly, because what he had prophesied came not to pass; he rejoiced exceedingly for a plant. A blameless mind is lightly moved to gladness or sorrow. You will see this in children. For as people who are not strong, easily fall, if someone gives them no very strong push, but touches them as it were with a lighter hand, so too the guileless mind is easily carried away by anything which delights or grieves it." Little as the shelter of the palm-christ was in itself, Jonah must have looked upon its sudden growth, as a fruit of God's goodness toward him, (as it was) and then perhaps went on to think (as people do) that this favor of God showed that He meant, in the end, to grant him what his heart was set upon. Those of impulsive temperaments are ever interpreting the acts of God's Providence, as bearing on what they strongly desire. Or again, they argue, 'God throws this or that in our way; therefore He means us not to relinquish it for His sake, but to have it.' By this sudden miraculous shelter against the burning Assyrian sun, which God provided for Jonah, He favored his waiting on there. So Jonah may have thought, interpreting rightly that God willed him to stay; wrongly, why He so willed. Jonah was to wait, not to see what he desired, but to receive, and be the channel of the instruction which God meant to convey to him and through him.
on Jonah 4 :6