Jonah 3

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1 And the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying,

2 Up! go to Nineveh, that great town, and give it the word which I have given you.

3 So Jonah got up and went to Nineveh as the Lord had said. Now Nineveh was a very great town, three days' journey from end to end.

4 And Jonah first of all went a day's journey into the town, and crying out said, In forty days destruction will overtake Nineveh.

5 And the people of Nineveh had belief in God; and a time was fixed for going without food, and they put on haircloth, from the greatest to the least.

6 And the word came to the king of Nineveh, and he got up from his seat of authority, and took off his robe, and covering himself with haircloth, took his seat in the dust.

7 And he had it given out in Nineveh, By the order of the king and his great men, no man or beast, herd or flock, is to have a taste of anything; let them have no food or water:

8 And let man and beast be covered with haircloth, and let them make strong prayers to God: and let everyone be turned from his evil way and the violent acts of their hands.

9 Who may say that God will not be turned, changing his purpose and turning away from his burning wrath, so that destruction may not overtake us?

10 And God saw what they did, how they were turned from their evil way; and God's purpose was changed as to the evil which he said he would do to them, and he did it not.

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Exploring the Meaning of Jonah 3      

By Joe David and Steve David

In the third chapter of the Book of Jonah, Jonah finally reaches Nineveh, and starts preaching repentance and reformation to the people there. And... they listen! Even the King of Assyria listens!

The inner meaning of the story is pretty close to the surface here, and there's important symbolism. Swedenborg summarizes the chapter's meaning in this one sentence:

"The nations, hearing from the Word of God about their sins, and that they would perish, were converted after repenting, and were heard by the Lord, and saved." (The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 213)

Rev. George McCurdy, in his exegesis of this chapter, offers this summary:

The great city of Nineveh has many spiritual representations. The world saw Nineveh as a mighty nation, but in the eyes of the Lord, it represented the shallowness and weakness (death) of false doctrines, contrived beliefs confirmed by the proprium (self love), the fallacies of the senses, and the unenlightened understanding that spawns spiritual ignorance.

The Lord’s mercy and love for all prompted Him not only to send His message to Nineveh, but to ensure that it would be preserved for eternity. Jonah’s call to "arise and go" preach to Nineveh is a call for spiritual renewal. It is a call for repentance. The fasting, sackcloth, and ashes symbolize a call to be aware that "where there is no truth, there is no church."

Where the Word is closed, and not loved, there is a loss of conjunction with the Divine resources. The fasting of man and beast symbolizes a need for the spiritual and natural appetites to come to the Lord for that "bread which comes down from heaven." The Ninevites giving up their natural food and drink represents their turning away from "as-of-self" concepts and reminds all who read and hear the Word of the Lord to rely on heavenly manna.

"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance…" (Isaiah 55:2)

The king sitting in ashes and mourning represents a sorrowful attitude toward "the remains of the fire of self-love." Repentance involves self-examination, making oneself guilty for the sins and evils committed, asking the Lord for His help, and desiring to attain a new life.

As we mull over this concept, think about the Lord’s preaching on earth. As He went about His mission, He often used these words: "You have heard it said of old… but I say unto you…" Putting aside human traditions and taking on the Lord’s teachings is an ongoing effort. Jonah was told to preach the words of the Lord. He was not to make things up from his memory. He was to be a true and faithful prophet of the Lord’s ways.

Here's a link to an interesting (audio) sermon on this chapter, by Rev. Todd Beiswenger.

Rev. Martin Pennington suggests two explanatory passages from Swedenborg's theological writings:

"Forty days means a period of temptation combats or severe change." (Arcana Coelestia 730)

"A fast represents those who are in a state of unhappiness when good is no longer joined to the truths." (Arcana Coelestia 9182[10])

Other references of interest listed by Rev. McCurdy include:

"As ‘forty’ signified what is full or complete… forty signifies what is complete in respect to instruction and influx… for this reason it was said by Jonah to the Ninevites that ‘the city would be overthrown after forty days" (Jonah 3:4) (Arcana Coelestia 9437[2])

"By being clothed in sackcloth is signified mourning on account of the vastated truth in the church; for garments signify truths; and therefore, to be clothed in sackcloth, which is not a garment, signifies mourning that there is no truth; and where there is no truth, there is no church." Jonah 3:5-6 is cited. (Apocalypse Revealed 492)

"…the rite of putting sackcloth on the loins to testify…mourning may be seen from the historic and prophetic parts of the Word, as in… Jonah 3:5-8… for a sign representative of mourning over the evil on account of which Nineveh was to perish; thus over destroyed good." (Arcana Coelestia 4779[2])

"From the signification of garments it is also manifest why they rent their garments, when any one spoke against the Divine truth of the Word… and why, on account of transgressions against Divine truths, they put off their garments, and put on sackcloth." Jonah 3:5, 6, and 8 are cited. (Apocalypse Revealed 166)

"That ‘ashes’ denote falsity, may be confirmed from passages where another word for ‘ashes (cinis)’ is used, for these ashes have a like origin…" Jonah 3:6 is cited. (Arcana Coelestia 7520)

"…by ‘ashes’ in the opposite sense, namely, what is condemned that remains after the burning from the fire of self love. This is signified by ‘the ashes’ which they carried on the head, and in which they rolled themselves when bewailing their sins." Jonah 3:6 is cited. (Arcana Coelestia 9723)

"In the spiritual sense by kings those who are in truths are signified, by the great ones those who are in goods, by the rich those that are in the knowledge of good, by the mighty they that are in erudition, by servants they that are in such things from others, and thus from memory, and by freemen they that are in such things from themselves…" Jonah 3:7 is cited. (Apocalypse Revealed 337)

"The interior good and also the interior evil…are signified by ‘man,’ are those which are of the intention or end, for the intention or end is the inmost of man; but the exterior good and also the exterior evil which are signified by ‘beast,’ are those which are of the thought, and of the consequent action when nothing stands in the way…By ‘beast,’…in respect to the external or natural man, a man is nothing else than a beast, for he takes delight in the like cupidities and pleasures, as also in the like appetites and sense…Therefore… from a holy rite it was commanded by the king of Nineveh, that both man and beast were to fast, and were to be covered with sackcloth (Jonah 3:7, 8)." (Arcana Coelestia 7523)

"… in the spiritual world a man’s affections appear at a distance like beasts… and beasts, viewed in themselves, are nothing but forms of natural affections… By man and beasts together is signified man as to spiritual and natural affection, in the following passages… Jonah 3:7, 8…" (Apocalypse Revealed 567)

"Here ‘webs’ and ‘garments’ are predicated of things of the understanding, that is, of the thought; ‘iniquity’ and ‘violence,’ of things of the will, that is, of works. In Jonah 3:8… the ‘evil way’ is predicated of falsities, which are of the understanding; and ‘violence,’ which are of the will." (Arcana Coelestia 623[2])

"…the ‘wrath of anger’ is attributed to Jehovah, and consequently ‘repentance.’" (Arcana Coelestia 588[2])

"…the Word is such in the sense of the letter, it may be evident that it cannot be understood without doctrine. But let examples illustrate this. It is said that Jehovah repenteth (Jonah 3:9; 4:2), and it is also said that Jehovah repenteth not (Num. 23:19…): without doctrine these statements do not agree." (Teachings Regarding the Sacred Scripture 51)

"In these passages (Jonah 3:9,10) Jehovah is said to have ‘repented,’ when yet it cannot be that He repents, because He knows all things before He does them; from which it is evident that by ‘repenting’ is signified mercy." (Arcana Coelestia 10441[2-4])

Finally, here's a link to Rev. McCurdy's study guide for the Book of Jonah, which is available for free as a .pdf, for your use.

Swedenborg

Hlavní výklad ze Swedenborgových prací:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 213


Další odkazy Swedenborga k této kapitole:

Arcana Coelestia 588, 623, 4779, 7520, 7523, 9437, 9723, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 166, 337, 492, 567

Sacred Scripture 51

True Christian Religion 226


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 195, 408, 637, 650

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Word/Phrase Explanations

the Word
In general, we tend to be very aware of how knowing what's true leads to doing what is good. That starts as children, with parents...

word
'Word,' as in Psalms 119:6-17, stands for doctrine in general. 'The Word,' as in Psalms 147:18, signifies divine good united with divine truth. 'Word,' as...

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

Jonah
'Jonah' represents the Jewish nation.

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

nineveh
'Nineveh' signifies the falsities of doctrinal matters, also the Gentiles, or the falsities originating in the fallacies of the senses, in the obscurity of an...

great
The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

town
Cities of the mountain and cities of the plain (Jer. 33:13) signify doctrines of charity and faith.

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

three
The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

a day
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

day
The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

forty
'Forty' means completeness because 'four' means what is complete, as does 'ten.' Forty is the product of four and ten. Compound numbers have a meaning...

Overtake
'To overtake' denotes communication and influx.

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

Put
'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

Put on
'To put on' is communication and imbuement.

seat
'The Lord's throne' signifies, in general, the whole heaven, and specifically, the spiritual heaven, and by extension, divine truth proceeding, and so, everything of heaven...

Great men
Great men, as in Revelation 6:15, signify those who are in good, and, in an opposite sense, those who are in evil. Great men, as...

beast
"Beasts" represent the affection for doing good things, a true desire to do them from the heart. In the negative sense, "beasts" stand for the...

flock
'A herd,' as mentioned in Genesis 32:7, denotes exterior or natural good, and also not good things.

taste
Our five senses correspond to spiritual affections, or the attraction we feel toward spiritual things. The sense of taste, according to the Writings, corresponds to...

water
'Waters' signify truths in the natural self, and in the opposite sense, falsities. 'Waters' signify particularly the spiritual parts of a person, or the intellectual...

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

covered
The "high mountains being covered " (Gen. 7:19) signifies that all the good things of charity were extin­guished.

turned
Swedenborg says that the Lord is the sun of heaven, and like the natural sun of our world shines on everyone, good or evil. What...

evil
'Wickedness' signifies evil, and 'iniquity' signifies falsities.

way
In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

violent
'Violence' signifies the outrage done to charity and the destruction of charity and faith. 'Violence,' as in Jeremiah 15:21, signifies falsities which assault the good...

hands
'Washing of the hands' was an ancient declaration of innocence, and signifies purification from evils and falsities, as in Psalms 73:13 and Matthew 27:24.

wrath
'Wrath,' as in Genesis 49:7, signifies aversion from truth. 'Great wrath,' as in Revelation 12:12, signifies hatred against the new church.

us
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

saw
To look,' as in Genesis 18:22, signifies thinking, because seeing denotes understanding. Look not back behind thee,' as in Genesis 19:17, means that Lot, who...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library by following this link.


 Beauty for Ashes
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 How the Lord Saved Jonah
A retelling of the story for young children with beautiful color illustrations. 
Story | Ages 4 - 6

 Jonah
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Jonah
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Jonah and the Gourd
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 Jonah and the Gourd (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 Jonah and the Gourd (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Jonah and the Gourd (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 Jonah and the Great Fish
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Jonah Goes to Nineveh
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Quotes: Divine Providence and Evil
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 The Prophet Jonah
This article shows how the Lord tried to teach Jonah to be merciful and kind when Jonah disobeyed the Lord because of his hatred toward the Assyrians. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14


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