וַיֵּרַע אֶל־יֹונָה רָעָה גְדֹולָה וַיִּחַר לֹו׃ 4:1
Jona. 4:1 And it was displeasing to Jonah, exceedingly wrong, and he was angry towards Him,
וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל אֶל־יְהוָה וַיֹּאמַר אָנָּה יְהוָה הֲלֹוא־זֶה דְבָרִי עַד־הֱיֹותִי עַל־אַדְמָתִי עַל־כֵּן קִדַּמְתִּי לִבְרֹחַ 4:2 תַּרְשִׁישָׁה כִּי יָדַעְתִּי כִּי אַתָּה אֵל־חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב־חֶסֶד וְנִחָם עַל־הָרָעָה׃
Jona. 4:2 and he prayed to the Lord and said, “I beseech You, Lord, was not this my utterance while I was on my soil? Because of that I went to flee before to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious God, and compassionate, patient of anger, and abundantly merciful, thus repenting concerning the evil.”
So here Jonah reveals his feelings and his reason for fleeing from the Lord. But he first asks if the Lord remembers his utterance when the Lord first commanded him in Jonah Chapter 1. Now Chapter 1 has nothing to say about Jonah’s verbal response to the Lord. He appears to have uttered no words, but flees immediately. Maybe he was thinking it, but as far as we know, he didn’t express it. Jonah seems here to be a slippery gent. Notice, however, his response in v. 4:1 above. He was displeased; he saw the Lord’s forgiveness as wrong; and he was angry at the Lord. Wow!
וְעַתָּה יְהוָה קַח־נָא אֶת־נַפְשִׁי מִמֶּנִּי כִּי טֹוב מֹותִי מֵחַיָּ 4:3
Jona. 4:3 “So now, O Lord, please take my soul from me, for my dying would be better than my living.”
Can any suffering be worse than that?
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה הַהֵיטֵב חָרָה לָךְ׃ 4:4
Jona. 4:4 And the Lord said, “Is your anger appropriate?”
וַיֵּצֵא יֹונָה מִן־הָעִיר וַיֵּשֶׁב מִקֶּדֶם לָעִיר וַיַּעַשׂ לֹו שָׁם סֻכָּה וַיֵּשֶׁב תַּחְתֶּיהָ בַּצֵּל עַד אֲשֶׁר יִרְאֶה 4:5 מַה־יִּהְיֶה בָּעִיר׃
Jona. 4:5 Then Jonah went out from the city and remained on the city's east side, and he made a shelter there for himself, and sat under it in shadow, so that he could see what would happen with the city.
וַיְמַן יְהוָה־אֱלֹהִים קִיקָיֹון וַיַּעַל מֵעַל לְיֹונָה לִהְיֹות צֵל עַל־רֹאשֹׁו לְהַצִּיל לֹו מֵרָעָתֹו וַיִּשְׂמַח יֹונָה 4:6 עַל־הַקִּיקָיֹון שִׂמְחָה גְדֹולָה׃
Jona. 4:6 And the Lord God ordained a plant that rose up over toward Jonah to be shade above his head, to deliver him from his discomfort, and Jonah was grateful because of the plant, exceedingly glad.
וַיְמַן הָאֱלֹהִים תֹּולַעַת בַּעֲלֹות הַשַּׁחַר לַמָּחֳרָת וַתַּךְ אֶת־הַקִּיקָיֹון וַיִּיבָשׁ׃ 4:7
Jona. 4:7 Then He Who is God ordained a worm at the coming up of the next day's dawn that killed the plant, and it withered.
וַיְהִי כִּזְרֹחַ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וַיְמַן אֱלֹהִים רוּחַ קָדִים חֲרִישִׁית וַתַּךְ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ עַל־רֹאשׁ יֹונָה וַיִּתְעַלָּף וַיִּשְׁאַל 4:8 אֶת־נַפְשֹׁו לָמוּת וַיֹּאמֶר טֹוב מֹותִי מֵחַיָּי׃
Jona. 4:8 And it was at the appearance of the sun that God ordained a harsh east wind, so the sun would beat down on the head of Jonah that he might faint, and he begged his soul to die as he said, “My dying would be better than my living.”
Here we have another example of Jonah’s peculiar Hebrew. Of the three Hebrew words (sixth to the eighth) that I translate as a harsh east wind, the word for wind can be either masculine or feminine, the word for east is masculine, and the word for harsh is feminine. There’s also another peculiarity with the third word. Its form is of a type that takes an of something following it. Instead of חֲרִישִׁית it should be more like חֲרִישִׁי. However, I imagine the phrase could be an idiom.
וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל־יֹונָה הַהֵיטֵב חָרָה־לְךָ עַל־הַקִּיקָיֹון וַיֹּאמֶר הֵיטֵב חָרָה־לִי עַד־מָוֶת׃ 4:9
Jona. 4:9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is your anger over the plant appropriate?” And he said, “My anger is sufficient even to dying.”
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אַתָּה חַסְתָּ עַל־הַקִּיקָיֹון אֲשֶׁר לֹא־עָמַלְתָּ בֹּו וְלֹא גִדַּלְתֹּו שֶׁבִּן־לַיְלָה הָיָה וּבִן־לַיְלָה 4:10 אָבָד׃
Jona. 4:10 And the Lord said, “You have pity on the plant on which you did not labor, and did not make it grow, that was a child of the night, and a child of the night perished.”
וַאֲנִי לֹא אָחוּס עַל־נִינְוֵה הָעִיר הַגְּדֹולָה אֲשֶׁר יֶשׁ־בָּהּ הַרְבֵּה מִשְׁתֵּים־עֶשְׂרֵה רִבֹּו אָדָם אֲשֶׁר 4:11 לֹא־יָדַע בֵּין־יְמִינֹו לִשְׂמֹאלֹו וּבְהֵמָה רַבָּה׃
Jona. 4:11 “Then should I not have pity on Nineveh, the great city, in which there is not a man from the more than one hundred twenty thousand who can discriminate between his right and his left, and many a beast?”
This completes the powerful lesson for us. In this chapter the Lord has provided Jonah with an experiential analogy to demonstrate His important message. It is that God accepts repentance from all of us humans.