and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights: that is, one whole natural day, consisting of twenty four hours, and part of two others; the Jews having no other way of expressing a natural day but by day and night; and to this the antitype answers; namely, our Lord's being so long in the grave; of whose death, burial, and resurrection, this was a type, as appears from Matthew 12:40; for which reason Jonah was so miraculously preserved; and a miracle it was that he should not in this time be digested in the stomach of the creature; that he was not suffocated in it, but breathed and lived; and that he was able to bear the stench of the creature's maw; and that he should have his senses, and be in such a frame of mind as both to pray and praise; but what is it that the power of God cannot do? Here some begin the second chapter, and not amiss.
(p) Pirke Eliezer, c. 10. fol. 10. 2.((q) Philostrat. Vit. Apollonii, l. 1. c. 7. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 32, c. 1.((s) Nat. Hist. l. 9. c. 5. (t) Polyhistor. c. 47. (u) Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 26. apud Schotti Physics Curiosa, par. 2. l. 10. c. 10. sect. 9. (w) Pantoppidan's History of Norway, par. 2. p. 114, 116. (x) Vid, Lipen. Jonae Displus, c. 2. th. 6. in Dissert. Theolog. Philol. tom. 1. p. 987. (y) Vid. Texelii Phoenix, l. 3. c. 6. p. 242, 243. (z) Mandelsloe in Harris's Voyages and Travels, vol. 1. B. 1. c. 2. p. 759.
INTRODUCTION TO Jonah 2
This chapter contains the prayer of Jonah, when in the fish's belly; the time when he prayed, the person he prayed unto, and the place where, are suggested in Jonah 2:1; and the latter described as a place of great straitness and distress, and even as hell itself, Jonah 2:2; The condition he was in, when cast into the sea, and when in the belly of the fish, which is observed, the more to heighten the greatness of the deliverance, Jonah 2:3. The different frame of mind he was in, sometimes almost in despair, and ready to faint; and presently exercising faith and hope, remembering the goodness of the Lord, and resolving to look again to him, Jonah 2:4. The gracious regards of God to him, in receiving, hearing, and answering his prayer, and bringing up his life from corruption, Jonah 2:2. His resolution, let others do what they would, to praise the Lord, and give him the glory of his salvation, Jonah 2:8; and the chapter is concluded with the order for his deliverance, and the manner of it, Jonah 2:10.
I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; or, "out of my strait" (a); being straitened in his body, and as it were in a prison in the fish's belly; and straitened in his soul, being between hope and despair, and under the apprehensions of the divine displeasure. A time of affliction is a time for prayer; it brings those to it that have disused it; it made Jonah cry to his God, if not with a loud voice, yet inwardly; and his cry was powerful and piercing, it reached the heavens, and entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts, though out of the depths, and out of the belly of a fish, in the midst of the sea:
out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice; or, "out of the belly of the grave" (b); out of the midst of it; that is, out of the belly of the fish, which was as a grave to him, as Jarchi observes; where he lay as out of the land of the living, as one dead, and being given up for dead: and it may also respect the frame of his mind, the horror and terror lie was in, arising from a sense of his sins, and the apprehensions he had of the wrath of God, which were as a hell in his conscience; and amidst all this he cried to God, and he heard him; and not only delivered him from he fish's belly, but from those dreadful apprehensions he had of his state and condition; and spoke peace and pardon to him. This is a proof that this prayer or thanksgiving be it called which it will, was composed, as to the form and order of it, after his deliverance; and these words are an appeal to God for the truth of what he had said in the preceding clause, and not a repetition of it in prayer; or expressing the same thing in different words.
(a) "ex angustia mea", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "ex arcto mihi", Cocceius. (b) "e ventre sepulchri", Calvin, Piscator, Liveleus; "e ventre sepulchrali", Junius & Tremellius.
and the floods compassed me about; all thy billows and thy waves passed over me; which was his case as soon as cast into the sea, before the fish had swallowed him, as well as after: this was literally true of Jonah, what David says figuratively concerning his afflictions, and from whom the prophet seems to borrow the expressions, Psalm 42:7; and indeed he might use them also in a metaphorical sense, with a view to the afflictions of body, and sorrows of death, that compassed him; and to the billows and waves of divine wrath, which in his apprehension lay upon him, and rolled over him.
(c) "in corde", V. L. Cocceius; "in cor", Montanus, Drusius.
yet I will look again toward thy holy temple; not the temple at Jerusalem, towards which men used to look when they prayed, being at a distance from it, 1 Kings 8:29; though there may be an allusion to such a practice; for it can hardly be thought that Jonah, in the fish's belly, could tell which way the temple stood; and look towards that; but he looked upwards and heavenwards; he looked up to God in his holy temple in heaven; and though he was afraid he would not look down upon him in a way of grace and mercy, he was resolved to look up to God in the way of prayer and supplication; and particularly, for the further encouragement of his faith and hope, he looked to the Messiah, the antitype of the temple, ark, and mercy seat, and for whose sake he might hope his prayers would be heard and answered.
(d) "e regione oculorum tuorum", Montanus, Piscator; "a coram oculis tuis", Drusius, Burkius.
"the waters surrounded me unto death.''
In this Jonah was a type of Christ in his afflictions and sorrows, which were so many and heavy, that he is said to be "exceeding sorrowful", or surrounded with sorrow, "even unto death", Matthew 26:38; see also Psalm 69:1;
the depth closed me round about; the great deep, the waters of the sea, both when he fell into it, and while in the belly of the fish: thus also Christ his antitype came into deep waters, where there was no standing, and where floods of sin, and of ungodly men, and of divine wrath, overflowed him; see Psalm 18:4;
the weeds were wrapped about my head; the sea weeds, of which there are great quantities in it, which grow at the bottom of it, to which Jonah came, and from whence he rose up again, before swallowed by the fish; or these weeds were drawn into the belly of the fish, along with the water which it took in, and were wrapped about the head of the prophet as he lay there; or the fish went down with him into the bottom of the sea, and lay among those weeds; and so they may be said to be wrapped about him, he being there, as follows. The Targum is,
"the sea of Suph being over my head;''
the same with the Red sea, which is so called, Psalm 106:9; and elsewhere, and that from the weeds that were in it; and R. Japhet, as Aben Ezra observes, says the sea of Suph is mixed with the sea of Joppa; that is, as a learned man (e) observes, by means of the river Rhinocorura, through which the lake of Sirbon mingles with the great sea; and which lake itself is so called from the weeds in it; yea, was anciently called Suph, and the sea of Suph, or "mare Scirpeum", hence Sirbon: and the same writer thinks that the father of Andromede, said to be devoured by a whale about Joppa, had his name of Cepheus from hence.
(e) Texelius, Phoenix, l. 3. c. 6. p. 242, 243, 244, 228, 229.
the earth with her bars was about me for ever; that is, the earth with its cliffs and rocks on the seashore, which are as bars to the sea, that it cannot overflow it; these were such bars to Jonah, that could he have got clear of the fish's belly, and attempted to swim to shore, he could never get to it, or over these bars, the rocks and cliffs, which were so steep and high:
yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God; notwithstanding these difficulties, which were insuperable by human power, and these seeming impossibilities of, deliverance; yet the Lord brought him out of the fish's belly, as out of a grave, the pit of corruption, and where he must otherwise have lain and rotted, and freed his soul from those terrors which would have destroyed him; and by this also we learn, that this form of words was composed after he came to dry land: herein likewise he was a type of Christ, who, though laid in the grave, was not left there so long as to see corruption, Psalm 16:10.
(f) "De excidio", Urb. Hieros. l. 3. c. 20.
I remembered the Lord; his covenant and promises, his former mercies and lovingkindness, the gracious experiences he had had of these in times past; he remembered he was a God gracious and merciful, and ready to forgive, healed the backslidings of his people, and still loved them freely, and tenderly received and embraced them, when they returned to him:
and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple; into heaven itself, the habitation of God's holiness, the temple where he dwells, and is worshipped by holy angels and glorified saints; the prayer the prophet put up in the fish's belly, encouraged to it by remembering the mercy and goodness of God, ascended from thence, and reached the ears of the Lord of hosts in the highest heavens, and met with a kind reception, and had a gracious answer; see Psalm 3:4.
I will pay that I vowed; when he was in distress; as that he would sacrifice after the above manner, or behave in a better manner for the future than he had done; and particularly would go to Nineveh, if the Lord thought fit to send him again:
salvation is of the Lord; this was the ground of the faith and hope of Jonah when at the worst, and the matter of his present praise find thanksgiving. There is one letter more in the word rendered "salvation" (g) than usual, which increases the sense; and denotes, that all kind of salvation is of the Lord, temporal, spiritual, and eternal; not only this salvation from the devouring waves of the sea, and from the grave of the fish's belly, was of the Lord; but his deliverance from the terrors of the Lord, and the sense he had of his wrath, and the peace and pardon he now partook of, were from the Lord, as well as eternal salvation in the world to come, and the hope of it. All temporal salvations and deliverances are from the Lord, and to him the glory of them belongs; and his name should be praised on account of them; which Jonah resolved to do for himself: and so is spiritual and eternal salvation; it is of Jehovah the Father, as to the original spring and motive of it, which is his grace, and not men's works, and is owing to his wisdom, and not men's, for the plan and form of it; it is of Jehovah the Son, as to the impetration of it, who only has wrought it out; and it is of Jehovah the Spirit, as to the application of it to particular persons; and therefore the glory of it belongs to all the three Persons, and should be given them. This is the epiphonema or conclusion of the prayer or thanksgiving; which shows that it was, as before observed, put into this form or order, after the salvation was wrought; though that is related afterwards, as it is proper it should, and as the order of the narration required.