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Verse 11

Jonah 4:11. And should not I The God of infinite compassion; spare Nineveh, that great city? Wouldest thou have me to be less merciful to such a large and populous city as Nineveh, than thou art to a shrub? Surely the lives of so many thousand men, to say nothing of their immortal souls, are much more valuable than the life of a single contemptible plant. Wherein (in which city) are more than six-score thousand persons that cannot discern, &c. That is, infants, who have no knowledge between good and evil, as it is expressed Deuteronomy 1:39. If we compute these as a fifth part of the inhabitants of Nineveh, the whole sum will amount to six hundred thousand persons, which are as few as can well be supposed to have inhabited a city of such large dimensions. And also much cattle Besides men, women, and children in Nineveh, there are many other of my creatures that are not sinful, and my tender mercies are, and shall be, over all my works. If thou wouldest be their destroyer, yet I will be their saviour. Go, Jonah, rest thyself content, and be thankful that the goodness which spared Nineveh hath spared thee, in this thy inexcusable frowardness, peevishness, and impatience. I will be to repenting Nineveh what I am to thee, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and I will turn from the evil which thou and they deserve. This reasoning seems to have silenced Jonah’s complaints, and made him sensible of his fault in repining at God’s mercy. It has been observed, that the book of Jonah ends as abruptly as it begins. It begins with a conjunction copulative, And the word came unto Jonah, &c., which has made some commentators think that it was but an appendix to some of his other writings: and it ends without giving us any manner of account, either of what became of the Ninevites, or of Jonah himself after this expedition. It is likely, indeed, from the compassionate expressions which God makes use of toward the Ninevites, that for this time he reversed their doom; and it is not improbable that Jonah, when he had executed his commission, and been satisfied by God concerning his merciful procedure, returned into Judea. We may presume, however, that the repentance of the Ninevites was of no long continuance; for, not many years after, we find the Prophet Nahum foretelling the total destruction of that city. See Calmet and Bishop Newton.

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