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Verses 7-9

Jonah 3:7-9. Let neither man nor beast taste any thing This was ordered to add the greater solemnity to the humiliation, and that men might be affected by the mournful cries of the cattle under such restraints, and thereby be moved to greater sorrow and contrition. It was, however, carrying their abstinence to a greater severity than we find practised among the Jews; for though, in times of public calamity, and on the day of solemn expiation, they made their children fast, as we may gather from Joel 2:16, yet we nowhere read of their extending that rigour to cattle. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth Their horses and camels, both which they had been accustomed to adorn with rich and costly clothing, they must now clothe with sackcloth, in testimony of a hearty repentance; the clothing of the beasts must witness for the men. Thus, in funerals, the covering horses and mules with sackcloth adds to the solemnity of the occasion, and tends to increase the sorrow. And cry mightily That is, let the men cry; for though the men and beasts are spoken of promiscuously in this proclamation, yet there are some expressions which are to be applied peculiarly to the men. Yea, let every one turn from his evil way Let every one forsake his vicious practices. And from the violence that is in their hands Let him cease to defraud or oppress his fellow-creatures, and desist from all acts of violence; yea, and let him restore what he has gotten by such practices. Natural religion instructed them, that their earnest prayers, without true amendment, would not avail them before God; nor would their repentance be thought sincere, unless they restored to the true owners what they had gained by violence and injustice. Who can tell if God will turn and repent? That is, whether he will change his way toward us, and revoke the sentence gone forth against us. It was a great thing for these heathen to give such proofs of repentance, under an uncertain hope of pardon.

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