New English Translation
6 The Lord God appointed[a] a little plant[b] and caused it to grow up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to rescue[c] him from his misery.[d] Now Jonah was very delighted[e] about the little plant.
7 So God sent[f] a worm at dawn the next day, and it attacked the little plant so that it dried up. 8 When the sun began to shine, God sent[g] a hot[h] east wind. So the sun beat down[i] on Jonah’s head, and he grew faint. So he despaired of life[j] and said, “I would rather die than live!”[k]Read full chapter
- Jonah 4:6 tn The verb מָנָה (manah) in the Piel stem is used elsewhere in Jonah meaning “to send, to appoint” (Jonah 2:1; 4:6-8; HALOT 599 s.v. מנה 2; BDB 584 s.v. מָנָה).
- Jonah 4:6 tn The noun קִיקָיוֹן (qiqayon, “plant”) has the suffixed ending וֹן- which denotes a diminutive (see IBHS 92 §5.7b), so it can be nuanced “little plant.” For the probable reason that the narrator used the diminutive form here, see the note on “little” in v. 10.
- Jonah 4:6 tc The consonantal form להציל is vocalized by the MT as לִהַצִּיל (lehatsil), a Hiphil infinitive construct from נָצַל (natsal, “to deliver, rescue”; BDB 664-65 s.v. נָצַל). However, the LXX’s τοῦ σκιάζειν (tou skiazein, “to shade”) reflects an alternate vocalization tradition of לְהָצֵיל (lehatsel), a Niphal infinitive construct from צָלַל (tsalal, “to shade”; see BDB 853 s.v. צָלַל). The MT vocalization is preferred for several reasons. First, it is the more difficult form with the assimilated nun. Second, the presence of the noun צֵל (tsel, “shadow”) just two words before helps to explain the origin of the LXX vocalization, which was influenced by this noun in the immediate context. Third, God’s primary motivation in giving the plant to Jonah was not simply to provide shade for him, because the next day the Lord killed the plant (v. 7). God’s primary motivation was to create a situation to “rescue” Jonah from his bad attitude. Nevertheless, the narrator’s choice of the somewhat ambiguous consonantal form להציל might have been done to create a wordplay on נָצַל (“to rescue, deliver”) and צָלַל (“to shade”). Jonah thought that God was providing him shade, but God was really working to deliver him from his evil attitude, as the ensuing dialogue indicates.
- Jonah 4:6 tn Or “evil attitude.” The meaning of the noun רָעָה (raʿah) is intentionally ambiguous; the author puns on its broad range of meanings to create a polysemantic wordplay. It can signify (1) “distress, misery, discomfort,” (2) “misfortune, injury,” (3) “calamity, disaster,” (4) “moral evil,” and (5) “ill-disposed, evil attitude” (see BDB 949 s.v. רָעָה; HALOT 1262-63 s.v. רָעָה). The narrator has used several meanings of רָעָה in 3:8-4:2, namely, “moral evil” (3:8, 10) and “calamity, disaster” (3:9, 10; 4:2), as well as the related verb רָעַע (raʿaʿ, “to be displeasing”; see 4:1). Here the narrator puns on the meaning “discomfort” created by the scorching desert heat, but God’s primary motivation is to “deliver” Jonah, not from something as trivial as physical discomfort from heat, but from his sinful attitude about God’s willingness to spare Nineveh. This gives the term an especially ironic twist: Jonah is only concerned about being delivered from his physical “discomfort,” while God wants to deliver him from his “evil attitude.”
- Jonah 4:6 tn Heb “he rejoiced with great joy.” The cognate accusative construction repeats the verb and noun of the consonantal root שׂמח (smkh, “rejoice”) for emphasis; it means, “he rejoiced with great joy,” or, “he was greatly delighted” (see IBHS 167 §10.2.1g). This cognate accusative construction ironically mirrors the identical syntax of v. 1: “he was angry with great anger.” The narrator repeated this construction to emphasize the contrast between Jonah’s anger that Nineveh was spared and his joy that his discomfort was relieved.
- Jonah 4:7 tn Or “appointed.” The verb מָנָה (manah) in the Piel stem means “to send, to appoint” (Ps 61:8; Jonah 2:1; 4:6-8; Dan 1:5, 10-11; HALOT 599 s.v. מנה 2; BDB 584 s.v. מָנָה).
- Jonah 4:8 tn Or “appointed.” See preceding note on v. 7.
- Jonah 4:8 tc The MT adjective חֲרִישִׁית (kharishit, “autumnal”) is a hapax legomenon with an unclear meaning (BDB 362 s.v. חֲרִישִׁי). Therefore, the BHS editors propose a conjectural emendation to the adjective, חֲרִיפִית (kharifit, “autumnal”), from the noun חֹרֶף (khoref, “autumn”; see BDB 358 s.v. חרֶף). However, this emendation would also create a hapax legomenon, and it would be no more clear than relating the MT’s חֲרִישִׁית to I חָרַשׁ (kharash, “to plough” [in autumn harvest]).tn Heb “autumnal” or “sultry.” The adjective חֲרִישִׁית is a hapax legomenon whose meaning is unclear. It might mean “autumnal” (from I חָרַשׁ, kharash; “to plough” [in the autumn harvest-time]). BDB 362 s.v. חֲרִישִׁי considers it mere conjecture that it means “silent” = “sultry” (from IV. חרשׁ, “to be silent.” The form חֲרִישִׁית might be a misspelling (שׁ for שׂ) of an alternate spelling (שׂ can replace ס) of חֲרִיסִית (kharisit) from the noun חֶרֶס (kheres, “sun”) and so mean “hot” (BDB 362 s.v.).
- Jonah 4:8 tn Heb “attacked” or “smote.”
- Jonah 4:8 tn Heb “he asked his soul to die.”
- Jonah 4:8 tn Heb “better my death than my life.”sn Jonah repeats his assessment, found also in 4:3.