Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Troubled. His concern was lest he should pass for a false prophet; or rather lest God’s word, by this occasion might come to be slighted and disbelieved. (Challoner) — He conjectured that God would spare the penitent Ninivites, and feared lest prophecies should be deemed uncertain. But this doubt is solved by observing that some are conditional, (chap. iii. 4., and Jeremias xviii. 8.) as it proved here. When the people relapsed, they were afterwards destroyed, Nahum i., &c. (Worthington) (Chap. iii. 10.) — The conversion of Ninive was an earnest of that of the Gentiles. (Calmet) — This being so intimately connected with the reprobation of the Jews, (Haydock) the prophet was grieved at the misery of the latter, (St. Jerome) which our Saviour and St. Paul bewailed. (Acts xi. 2.; Romans x. 19.; Luke xix.; &c.) Yet Jonas seems to have considered himself rather too much.
Ver. 5. Went, or “had gone,” waiting for the city’s ruin. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. The Lord God prepared an ivy. Hederam. In the Hebrew it is kikajon, which some render a gourd; others a palmerist, or palma Christi. (Challoner) — This latter is now the common opinion. St.Jerome explains it of a shrub growing very fast in the sandy places of Palestine. He did not pretend (Calmet) that hedera, or ivy, as Aquila translates, (Haydock) was the precise import; but he found no Latin term more resembling, (Calmet) as he observes here and in his letter to St. Augustine, who had informed him that a certain bishop of Africa having read his version publicly, the audience was surprised at the change; and the Jews, “either through ignorance or malice,” decided in favour of the old Greek and Latin version of gourd, which [the] Protestants retain. (Haydock) — But this does not grow so soon no more than the ivy. The palma Christi, or ricinus, does. The Egyptians call it kiki, and the Greeks selicy prion. See Pliny, [Natural History?] xv. 7. Its foliage is thick, and its trunk hollow. (Calmet) — But how came St. Jerome to be unacquainted with this plant? or why did he substitute one false name for another?
Ver. 8. Hot. Hebrew also, “eastern and sultry,” (Haydock) or silent, (Calmet) which instead of refreshing, served only to increase the heat, (Haydock) and to raise dust. Septuagint, Syriac, &c., agree with the Vulgate.
Ver. 9. Death. The spirit of prophecy changes not the temper. (Calmet) — Jonas had reason to be grieved, and so had God to shew mercy. In this history and prediction, who would have thought that Jonas had been a figure of our Saviour’s death and resurrection, if he himself had not declared it? (Matthew xii.) (Worthington) — The prophet comes out of the fish alive, as Christ does from the tomb. He was cast into the sea to save those on board; Christ dies for the redemption of mankind. Jonas had been ordered to preach, but did not comply till after his escape; thus the gospel was designed to be preached to the Gentiles, yet Christ would not have it done till he had risen, Matthew xv. 26. The prophet’s grief intimates the jealousy of the Jews; as his shade destroyed, points out the law, which leaves them in the greatest distress. The very name fish, ichthus, is a monogram of “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a Saviour, (Calmet) or crucified.” (Haydock) (St. Paulinus, ep. 33.) — Hence Jonas most strikingly foreshewed Christ. (St. Augustine, City of God xviii. 30.)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Jonas, repining to see that his prophecy is not fulfilled, is reproved by the type of the ivy.
1 And Jonas was exceedingly troubled, and was angry:
2 And he prayed to the Lord, and said: I beseech thee, O Lord, is not this what I said, when I was yet in my own country? therefore I went before to flee into Tharsis: *for I know that thou art a gracious and merciful God, patient, and of much compassion, and easy to forgive evil.
3 And now, O Lord, I beseech thee take my life from me: for it is better for me to die than to live.
4 And the Lord said: Dost thou think thou hast reason to be angry?
5 Then Jonas went out of the city, and sat toward the east side of the city: and he made himself a booth there, and he sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would befal the city.
6 And the Lord God prepared an ivy, and it came up over the head of Jonas, to be a shadow over his head, and to cover him (for he was fatigued): and Jonas was exceeding glad of the ivy.
7 But God prepared a worm, when the morning arose on the following day: and it struck the ivy and it withered.
8 And when the sun was risen, the Lord commanded a hot and burning wind: and the sun beat upon the head of Jonas, and he broiled with the heat: and he desired for his soul that he might die, and said: It is better for me to die than to live.
9 And the Lord said to Jonas: Dost thou think thou hast reason to be angry, for the ivy? And he said: I am angry with reason even unto death.
10 And the Lord said: Thou art grieved for the ivy, for which thou hast not laboured, nor made it to grow, which in one night came up, and in one night perished.
11 And shall not I spare Ninive, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons, that know not how to distinguish between their right hand and their left, and many beasts?
2: Psalm lxxxv. 5.; Joel ii. 13.