on Jonah 4 :8
A vehement east wind - Which was of itself of a parching, withering nature; and the sun, in addition, made it intolerable. These winds are both scorching and suffocating in the East, for deserts of burning sand lay to the east or south-east; and the easterly winds often brought such a multitude of minute particles of sand on their wings, as to add greatly to the mischief. I believe these, and the sands they carry, are the cause of the ophthalmia which prevails so much both in Egypt and India.
on Jonah 4 :8
God prepared a vehement - o (The English margin following the Chaldee, "silent," i. e., "sultry").
East wind - The winds in the East, blowing over the sand-deserts, intensely increase the distress of the heat. A sojourner describes on two occasions an Assyrian summer . "The change to summer had been as rapid as that which ushered in the spring. The verdure of the plain had perished almost in a day. Hot winds, coming from the desert, had burned up and carried away the shrubs. The heat was now almost intolerable. Violent whirl-winds occasionally swept over the face of the country." "The spring was now fast passing away; the heat became daily greater; the grain was cut; and the plains and hills put on their summer clothing of dull parched yellow. "The pasture is withered, the herbage faileth; the green grass is not." It was the season too of the Sherghis, or burning winds from the south, which occasionally swept over the face of the country, driving in their short-lived fury everything before them.
We all went below (ground) soon after the sun had risen, and remained there (in the tunnels) without again seeking the open air until it was far down in the Western horizon." The "Sherghi" must be rather the East wind, Sherki, whence Sirocco. At Sulimania in Kurdistan (about 2 12 degrees east of Nineveh, and 34 of a degree south) "the so much dreaded Sherki seems to blow from any quarter, from east to northeast. It is greatly feared for its violence and relaxing qualities," "hot, stormy and singularly relaxing and dispiriting." Suffocating heat is a characteristic of these vehement winds. Morier relates at Bushire ; He continues, "Again from the 23rd to the 25th, the wind blew violently from the southeast accompanied by a most suffocating heat, and continued to blow with the same strength until the next day at noon, when it suddenly veered round to the northwest with a violence equal to what it had blown from the opposite point." And again (p. 97) "When there was a perfect calm, partial and strong currents of air would arise and form whirlwinds which produced high columns of sand all over the plain. They are looked upon as the sign of great heat. Their strength was very various. Frequently they threw down our tents."
Burckhardt, when professedly lessening the general impression as to these winds says, "The worst effect (of the Semoum "a violent southest wind") is that it dries up the water in the skins, and so far endangers the traveler's safety. In one morning 13 of the contents of a full water skin was evaporated. I always observed the whole atmosphere appear as it in a state of combustion; the dust and sand are carried high into the air, which assumes a reddish or blueish or yellowish tint, according to the nature and color of the ground from which the dust arises. The Semoum is not always accompanied by whirlwinds: in its less violent degree it will blow for hours with little force, although with oppressive heat; when the whirlwind raises the dust, it then increases several degrees in heat. In the Semoum at Esne, the thermometer mounted to 121 degrees in the shade, but the air seldom remains longer than a quarter of an hour in that state or longer than the whirlwind lasts.
The most disagreeable effect of the Semoum upon man is, that it stops perspiration, dries up the palate, and produces great restlessness." Travels in Nubia, pp. 204-205.) "A gale of wind blew from the Southward and Eastward with such violence, that three of our largest tents were leveled with the ground. The wind brought with it such hot currents of air, that we thought it might be the precursor of the "Samoun" described by Chardin, but upon inquiry, we found that the autumn was generally the season for that wind. The "Sam" wind commits great ravages in this district. It blows at night from about midnight to sunrise, comes in a hot blast, and is afterward succeeded by a cold one. About 6 years ago, there was a "sam" during the summer months which so totally burned up all the grain, then near its maturity, that no animal would eat a blade of it, nor touch any of its grain."
The sun beat upon the head of Jonah - o. "Few European travelers can brave the perpendicular rays of an Assyrian sun. Even the well-seasoned Arab seeks the shade during the day, and journeys by night, unless driven forth at noontide by necessity, or the love of war."
He wished in himself to die - (literally he asked as to his soul, to die). He prayed for death. It was still the same dependence upon God, even in his self-will. He did not complain, but prayed God to end his life here. When men are already vexed in soul by deep inward griefs, a little thing often oversets patience. Jonah's hopes had been revived by the mercy of the palm-christ; they perished with it. Perhaps he had before him the thought of his great predecessor, Elijah, how he too wished to die, when it seemed that his mission was fruitless. They differed in love. Elijah's preaching, miracles, toil, sufferings, seemed to him, not only to be in vain, but (as they must, if in vain), to add to the guilt of his people. God corrected him too, by showing him his own short-sightedness, that he knew not of "the seven thousand who had not bowed their knees unto Baal," who were, in part, doubtless, "the travail of his soul." Jonah's mission to his people seemed also to be fruitless; his hopes for their well-being were at an end; the temporal mercies of which he had been the prophet, were exhausted; Nineveh was spared; his last hope was gone; the future scourge of his people was maintained in might. The soul shrinks into itself at the sight of the impending visitation of its country. But Elijah's zeal was "for" his people only and the glory of God in it, and so it was pure love. Jonah's was directed "against" the Ninevites, and so had to be purified.
on Jonah 4 :8