Jonah 4

1This was evil to Jonah,[1] greatly evil, and he became furious. 2He prayed to Yahweh and said, “Now Yahweh, is this not what I said while I was in my own land? So that is why I fled to Tarshish. I know that You are a God who is gracious and compassionate, taking long to get angry,[2] having much kindness,[3] and is sorry about doing evil.[4] 3Now Yahweh, please take my life from me, for death is better to me[5] than life.”

4Then Yahweh said, “Is it good for you to be furious?”

5But Jonah went out from the city and sat down to the east of the city and made there for himself a shelter, and sat in its shade while he waited to see what would happen to the city. 6And Yahweh God prepared a plant to grow up over Jonah, to provide shade for his head, to rescue him from evil. And Jonah rejoiced over the plant; he greatly rejoiced.[6] 7But God prepared a worm at the rising of the dawn the next day to kill the plant so that it withered.

8When the sun rose, God sent a harsh, east wind and the sun beat down upon Jonah’s head and he became faint and begged with all his life to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”

9Then God said to Jonah, “Is it good for you to be furious about the plant?”

And he said, “It is good to be furious, even unto death.”

10So Yahweh said, “You had pity upon the plant, for which you did not work, nor did you cause it to grow. It came into being in a night and in a night it was destroyed. 11Should I not have pity upon Nineveh, that great city, in which there exists more than 120,000 people who do not know the difference between their right hand and their left,[7] and also many cattle?”

Other chapters from Jonah

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

The Grace Commentary on Jonah


  1. One of the themes in Jonah appears to be a theological debate about the nature of evil. What is evil? What is bad? From whose perspective? In the span of a few verses here, we have the king of Nineveh, God, and Jonah all declare something “evil.” In this case, God appears to side with the king of Nineveh.
  2. Lit., “long of nose.”
  3. Up to this point, the statement of Jonah about the character of God is almost a direct quotation from Exodus 34:6.
  4. The description about God being sorry for doing evil (cf. 1:2, 7-8; 3:7-8, 10) is a reference to the ongoing debate in Jonah about “What is evil?” and is also an allusion to how God frequently relented from “doing evil” to the Israelites in the wilderness (cf. Exod 32:14).
  5. Jonah continues to think only of what is better for himself.
  6. I know that this is an awkward translation, but I wanted to show the parallel between the response of Jonah to the plant, and the response of Jonah in 4:1 to God’s gift to Nineveh.
  7. This means “children.” They haven’t learned the difference between “right” and “left.”

3 thoughts on “Jonah 4”

  1. Did you recently change your translation guidelines to use the proper name of Yahweh? I totally agree with that choice, but I could have sworn that I saw LORD instead last time I was on here.

    1. Yes, I did change it. And you are right, it said “LORD” last time. I really struggled with this decision, but now that it has been made, am comfortable with it. There is a brief explanation in the “Goals and Translation Guidelines” page (Found on the About Page)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *