Jonah 4

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1 And it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.

2 And he prayed unto Jehovah, and said, Ah, Jehovah, was not this my saying when I was yet in my country? Therefore I was minded to flee at first unto Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious ùGod, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great loving-kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

3 And now, Jehovah, take, I beseech thee, my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.

4 And Jehovah said, Doest thou well to be angry?

5 And Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.

6 And Jehovah Elohim prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his trouble. And Jonah was exceeding glad because of the gourd.

7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd, that it withered.

8 And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, so that he fainted; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, unto death.

10 And Jehovah said, Thou hast pity on the gourd, for which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:

11 and I, should not I have pity on Nineveh, the great city, wherein are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

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Exploring the Meaning of Jonah 4      

By Joe David and Steve David

In this fourth chapter of the Book of Jonah, (Jonah 4), the prophet Jonah has a strange reaction to his success. He's angry, and sulky. He thinks he knows better than God does. What is this story about?

Rev. George McCurdy, in his exegesis of this chapter, offers a summary in his Study Guide for the Book of Jonah, which is available for free as a .pdf, for your use. Below, we've excerpted part of his summary, and edited it for use in this context.

The people of the Jewish church in Jonah's time didn't want to reconsider their belief in their "most-favored-nation status." They challenged the Lord. They couldn't understand why He wanted to save their enemies in Nineveh.

Despite the hard lessons in chapters 1 and 2, and his success as described in chapter 3, Jonah still thought he knew better than the Lord. He thought that God was being too soft and loving -- too forgiving -- and that He needed to come around to Jonah’s tougher view.

Jonah got so angry and vengeful that he preferred to die rather than approve of the Lord’s way to save the Ninevites. His self-love wanted shade -- protection for its concepts. The Lord needed to bring such thinking to an end; the worm brought about death to the gourd from within. The Lord then sent a vehement east wind, that represents a blowing away of the stagnant thinking of the church.

The Lord's heavenly sun shone upon Jonah, but he felt faint. Here, Jonah's insistence on his own troubling view of things made him uncomfortable with the Lord’s view. The Divine guidance offered him a way to learn to enjoy the success of his neighbors as his own, but he wouldn't take it.

For us, then -- what? This story is telling us that we can't just keep the truths of the Word for ourselves; we have to go to Nineveh and share them. And then, if people start to hear them, and use them to turn their lives around, we can't allow ourselves to get resentful that the Lord accepts their repentance and forgives them. It's a very human reaction; think of the disciples vying to be first in the Lord's command structure (Luke 9:46), or the brother of the prodigal son (Luke 15:28-29), or the workers in the vineyard who had worked all day for a denarius (Matthew 20:10-12). But... it's not a good reaction. The Lord doesn't admire it in Jonah, and doesn't admire it when it crops up in our minds, either.

Rev. Martin Pennington recommends several explanatory passages from Swedenborg's theological writings:

"Shade or shadow means the perception of good and truth lies in obscurity." (Arcana Coelestia 2367)

"A vine is spiritual good (the spiritual church)". (Arcana Coelestia 217)

"A worm represents falsity gnawing away and tormenting one." (Arcana Coelestia 8481)

"'And the sun grew hot' in the contrary sense means self-love and love of the world." (Arcana Coelestia 8487)

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

Swedenborg

Hlavní výklad ze Swedenborgových prací:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 214


Další odkazy Swedenborga k této kapitole:

Arcana Coelestia 10441

Sacred Scripture 51

True Christian Religion 226


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 401, 419

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Matthew 2:10, 20:15

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Word/Phrase Explanations

jonah
'Jonah' represents the Jewish nation.

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...

flee
Flight, as in Matthew 14:20, signifies removal from a state of the good of love and innocence. Flight, as in Mark 8:18, signifies the last...

Tarshish
Elishah, Tarshish, Kitthin, and Dodanium (Gen. 10:4) signify so many several doctrinals respecting ritual observances, and derived from external worship prevailing with Javan.

knew
In a general sense, men represent things of the intellect – facts, ideas, knowledge, everything from the deepest truths to the most pernicious falsities about...

merciful
In regular language, "mercy" means being caring and compassionate toward those who are in poor states. That's a position we are all in relative to...

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

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

life
'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

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

sat
If you think about sitting, it seems fair to say that where you're sitting is more important than that you're sitting. Sitting in a movie...

side
'Side' signifies good or spiritual love.

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

shade
'The shadow is good' of the oak, poplar and elm means complacence.

might
'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

see
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...

elohim
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...

gourd
The gourd which God prepared to come up over the head of the prophet Jonah, in Jonah 4:6, signifies the evil and self-love of the...

head
The head is the part of us that is highest, which means in a representative sense that it is what is closest to the Lord....

trouble
An affliction "such as was not from the beginning of the world, no nor ever shall be", mentioned in 'Matthew 24:21', means the infestation from...

Glad
To make glad signifies influx and reception from joy of heart.

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...

worm
'A worm' denotes falsity of evil in the good derived from the proprium or selfhood. 'That dies not,' denotes infernal torment related to falsity. 'Worm'...

rose
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

smote
'The smitten' signify people who are oppressed by the falsities of ignorance.

withered
In the Bible (and in life), the idea of withering is usually connected to plants, and plants generally wither if they don't get enough water....

sun
The 'sun' signifies celestial and spiritual love. The 'sun' in the Word, when referring to the Lord, signifies His divine love and wisdom. Because the...

wind
Because a nearer and stronger divine influx through the heavens disperses truths among the wicked, 'wind' signifies this dispersion of truth and the resulting conjunction...

die
Dead (Gen. 23:8) signifies night, in respect to the goodnesses and truths of faith.

Grow
‘To grow’ signifies to be perfected.

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;...

hundred
It's a landmark for a young child to count to 100; it sort of covers all the "ordinary" numbers. One hundred is obviously significant for...

twenty
'Twenty,' when referring to a quantity, signifies everything or fullness, because it is ten twice. 'Twenty,' as in Genesis 18:31, like all numbers occurring in...

thousand
As children, most of us at some point frustrated our mothers into using the phrase “if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand...

Right hand
'The man of the right hand,' as in Psalm 80:17, signifies the Lord with respect to the Word. He is called 'the man of the...

much
Intellectual things – ideas, knowledge, facts, even insight and understanding – are more separate and free-standing than emotional things, and it’s easier to imagine numbering...

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.


 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

 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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