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The people[a] of Nineveh believed in God,[b] and they declared a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.[c] When the news[d] reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat on ashes. He issued a proclamation and said,[e] “In Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his nobles: No human or animal, cattle or sheep, is to taste anything; they must not eat and they must not drink water.

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  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. Jonah 3:5 tn Heb “from the greatest of them to the least of them.”
  4. Jonah 3:6 tn Heb “word” or “matter.”
  5. Jonah 3:7 tn Contrary to many modern English versions, the present translation understands the king’s proclamation to begin after the phrase “and he said” (rather than after “in Nineveh”), as do quotations in 1:14; 2:2, 4; 4:2, 8, 9. Where a quotation in Jonah does not begin immediately after “said” (אָמַר, ʾamar), it is only the speaker, the addressee, or both that come between “said” and the start of the quotation (1:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; 4:4, 9, 10; cf. 1:1; 3:1).

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