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The Sign of Jonah

29 As[a] the crowds were increasing, Jesus[b] began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it looks for a sign,[c] but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.[d] 30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh,[e] so the Son of Man will be a sign[f] to this generation.[g] 31 The queen of the South[h] will rise up at the judgment[i] with the people[j] of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon—and now,[k] something greater[l] than Solomon is here! 32 The people[m] of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah preached to them[n]—and now,[o] something greater than Jonah is here!

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  1. Luke 11:29 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  2. Luke 11:29 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  3. Luke 11:29 sn The mention of a sign alludes back to Luke 11:16. Given what Jesus had done, nothing would be good enough. This leads to the rebuke that follows.
  4. Luke 11:29 sn As the following comparisons to Solomon and Jonah show, in the present context the sign of Jonah is not an allusion to Jonah being three days in the belly of the fish, but to Jesus’ teaching about wisdom and repentance.
  5. Luke 11:30 tn Grk “to the Ninevites.” What the Ninevites experienced was Jonah’s message (Jonah 3:4, 10; 4:1).
  6. Luke 11:30 tn The repetition of the words “a sign” are not in the Greek text, but are implied and are supplied here for clarity.
  7. Luke 11:30 tc Only the Western ms D and a few Itala mss add here a long reference to Jonah being in the belly of the fish for three days and nights and the Son of Man being three days in the earth, apparently harmonizing the text to the parallel in Matt 12:40.
  8. Luke 11:31 sn On the queen of the South see 1 Kgs 10:1-3 and 2 Chr 9:1-12, as well as Josephus, Ant. 8.6.5-6 (8.165-175). The South most likely refers to modern southwest Arabia, possibly the eastern part of modern Yemen, although there is an ancient tradition reflected in Josephus which identifies this geo-political entity as Ethiopia.
  9. Luke 11:31 sn For the imagery of judgment, see Luke 10:13-15 and 11:19. The warnings are coming consistently now.
  10. Luke 11:31 tn Grk “men”; the word here (ἀνήρ, anēr) usually indicates males or husbands, but occasionally is used in a generic sense of people in general, as is the case here (cf. BDAG 79 s.v. 1, 2). The same term, translated the same way, occurs in v. 32.
  11. Luke 11:31 tn Grk “behold.”
  12. Luke 11:31 sn The message of Jesus was something greater than what Solomon offered. On Jesus and wisdom, see Luke 7:35; 10:21-22; 1 Cor 1:24, 30.
  13. Luke 11:32 tn See the note on the word “people” in v. 31.
  14. Luke 11:32 tn Grk “at the preaching of Jonah.”sn The phrase repented when Jonah preached to them confirms that in this context the sign of Jonah (v. 30) is his message.
  15. Luke 11:32 tn Grk “behold.”