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Jonah began to enter the city by going one day’s walk, announcing, “At the end of forty days,[a] Nineveh will be overthrown!”[b]

The people[c] of Nineveh believed in God,[d] and they declared a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.[e] When the news[f] reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat on ashes.

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  1. Jonah 3:4 tn Heb “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown!” The adverbial use of עוֹד (ʿod, “yet”) denotes limited temporal continuation (BDB 728 s.v. עוֹד 1.a; Gen 29:7; Isa 10:32). Tg. Jonah 3:4 rendered it as, “at the end of [forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown].”
  2. Jonah 3:4 tn Heb “be overturned.” The Niphal נֶהְפָּכֶת (nehpakhet, “be overturned”) refers to a city being overthrown and destroyed (BDB 246 s.v. הָפַךְ 2.d). The related Qal form refers to the destruction of a city by military conquest (Judg 7:3; 2 Sam 10:3; 2 Kgs 21:13; Amos 4:11) or divine intervention, as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:21, 25, 29; Deut 29:22; Jer 20:16; Lam 4:6; BDB 245 s.v. 1.b). The participle form used here depicts an imminent future action (see IBHS 627-28 §37.6f) that is specified as only “forty days” away.
  3. Jonah 3:5 tn Heb “men.” The term is used generically here for “people” (so KJV, ASV, and many other English versions); cf. NIV “the Ninevites.”
  4. Jonah 3:5 sn The people of Nineveh believed in God…. Verse 5 provides a summary of the response in Nineveh; the people of all ranks believed and gave evidence of contrition by fasting and wearing sackcloth (2 Sam 12:16, 19-23; 1 Kgs 21:27-29; Neh 9:1-2). Then vv. 6-9 provide specific details, focusing on the king’s reaction. The Ninevites’ response parallels the response of the pagan sailors in 1:6 and 13-16.
  5. Jonah 3:5 tn Heb “from the greatest of them to the least of them.”
  6. Jonah 3:6 tn Heb “word” or “matter.”

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