The Bible

 

Jonah 4:2

Greek OT: LXX [A] Accented         

Study the Inner Meaning

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2 καὶ προσεύξατο πρὸς κύριον καὶ εἶπεν ὦ κύριε οὐχ οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι μου ἔτι ὄντος μου ἐν τῇ γῇ μου διὰ τοῦτο προέφθασα τοῦ φυγεῖν εἰς θαρσις διότι ἔγνων ὅτι σὺ ἐλεήμων καὶ οἰκτίρμων μακρόθυμος καὶ πολυέλεος καὶ μετανοῶν ἐπὶ ταῖς κακίαις

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Jonah 4      

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

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.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 214


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 10441

Sacred Scripture 51

True Christian Religion 226

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Psalms 86:15

Jonah 3:9

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 at the New Church Vineyard website.


 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

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Jonah 4      

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

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.

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #8487

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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8487. 'And the sun grew hot, and it melted' means its disappearance gradually as craving increased. This is clear from the meaning of 'the sun growing hot' as craving that is increasing, dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'melting' as disappearing. The reason why 'the sun grew hot' means craving that was increasing is that 'the sun' in a good sense means heavenly love. It means this because the Lord is the Sun in the next life, the heat which comes from it being the good of love, and the light the truth of faith. (For more about that Sun - that it is the Lord and that heavenly love comes from it - see 1053, 1521, 1529-1531, 2120, 2441, 2495, 3636, 3643, 4060, 4321 (end), 4696, 5084, 5047, 5377, 7078, 7083, 7171, 7173, 7270.) Therefore 'the sun' in the contrary sense means self-love and love of the world, and the heat from the sun or its 'growing hot' in that sense means craving.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 5097)


[2] The nature of the occurrence described here - that the good of truth, meant by 'the manna', disappeared gradually as craving increased, meant by its melting when the sun grew hot - must be explained briefly. The good of truth or spiritual good is indeed imparted to a member of the spiritual Church undergoing regeneration; but that good kills off every delight belonging to self-love and love of the world that has constituted his life previously, since they are contrary to each other. This being so, pure good of truth cannot remain for long with that person, but is modified by the Lord by means of the delights belonging to the two loves constituting his life previously. For if that good were not modified in this way it would hold no delight for him and so would be loathsome. This is what heavenly good is like initially with those undergoing regeneration. To the extent therefore that the delights of self-love and love of the world rise up, the good of heavenly love disappears, since, as has been stated, they are contrary to that good. So the reverse also occurs.

[3] This explains why in heaven there are changes of states, to which changes of times and seasons in the world correspond, 8426, and why such changes return those who are there to the delights that go with natural pleasures. For without such change of states the good of heavenly love would become so to speak dry and worthless. It is different when it is modified by natural delights, at once or in stages. This is why at first, when the children of Israel were given the man[na] every morning they were also given the selav in the evening; for 'the selav' means natural delight, and also the delight that goes with craving, 8452.

[4] But it should be recognized that the cravings to which those in heaven return when their evening comes are not cravings that are contrary to heavenly good, but ones that are to some extent in accord with it. For there are the delights of conferring benefits rather lavishly and getting some glory out of doing so, delights however which hold goodwill and the desire to serve others. Then there are the delights of opulence in home decor and personal dress, and very many other delights like these. Such delights are not ones that destroy the good of heavenly love, though they do nevertheless eclipse it. But eventually - depending on the degree the person's regeneration reaches - they become the lowest levels of heavenly good. At this point they are no longer spoken of as cravings but as delights. The fact that the good of heavenly love unless modified by such delights becomes so to speak dry, and after that is loathed as being so to speak worthless, is meant by the reaction of the children of Israel who, when they were no longer given the selav, called the manna dry food and worthless food. Their doing so is referred to in Moses as follows,

The rabble who were in the midst [of the people] had a strong craving, and so the children of Israel also wept repeatedly and said, Who will feed us with flesh? But now our soul is dry; there is nothing at all except the man[na] for our eyes [to look] at. Numbers 11:4, 6.

In the same author,

The people spoke against God and against Moses, Why have you caused us to come up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread, nor water; now our soul loathes this most worthless bread. Numbers 21:5.

And elsewhere in the same author,

Jehovah afflicted you, and caused you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor your fathers knew, in order that He might teach you that man does not live by bread only, but that man lives by every utterance of the mouth of Jehovah. Deuteronomy 8:3.

[5] 'Manna' is similar in meaning to 'unleavened bread', which means good pure and free from falsities, 8058. That bread is for a similar reason called the bread of misery, 1 Deuteronomy 16:3.

From all this one may now see how to understand the disappearance of the good of truth gradually as craving increased, meant by the melting of the man[na] when the sun grew hot.

-----
Footnotes:

1. Here Swedenborg follows Sebastian Schmidt; in other places Swedenborg has the bread of affliction.

-----

(References: Exodus 16:21)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 8678, 9263, 9335

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 81


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 298

Other New Christian Commentary

Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.


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