The Meaning of Jonah 4:8 Explained

Jonah 4:8

KJV: And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

YLT: And it cometh to pass, about the rising of the sun, that God appointeth a cutting east wind, and the sun smiteth on the head of Jonah, and he wrappeth himself up, and asketh his soul to die, and saith, 'Better is my death than my life.'

Darby: And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, so that he fainted; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

ASV: And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

What does Jonah 4:8 Mean?

Study Notes

fainted
Cf. 1 Kings 19:4-8 . Taken as a lesson in service we have in Jonah a servant,
(1) disobedient, Jonah 1:1-11 ;
(2) afflicted, Jonah 1:12-17 ;
(3) praying Jonah 2:1-9 ;
(4) delivered, Jonah 2:10 ;
(5) recommissioned, Jonah 3:1-3 ;
(6) powerful, Jonah 3:4-9 ;
(7) perplexed and fainting but not forsaken, Jonah 4:1-11 .

Verse Meaning

The scorching east wind that God provided was the dreaded sirocco. The following description of it helps us appreciate why it had such a depressing effect on Jonah.
"During the period of a sirocco the temperature rises steeply, sometimes even climbing during the night, and it remains high, about16-22˚F. above the average ... at times every scrap of moisture seems to have been extracted from the air, so that one has the curious feeling that one"s skin has been drawn much tighter than usual. Sirocco days are peculiarly trying to the temper and tend to make even the mildest people irritable and fretful and to snap at one another for apparently no reason at all." [1]
Why did Jonah not move into the city and live there? Apparently he wanted nothing to do with the Ninevites whom he despised so much. He probably still did not know if God would spare Nineveh or destroy it catastrophically. Earlier he had wished to die because, as God"s servant, he was not happy with God"s will. Now he longed for death because he was unhappy with his circumstances. Divine discipline had brought him to the place where even the loss of a plant affected him so deeply that he longed to die.
"The shoe Jonah wanted Nineveh to wear was on his foot now, and it pinched." [2]

Context Summary

Jonah 4:1-11 - The Prophet's Narrowness Rebuked
This chapter marks an era in the development of the outlook of the Hebrew people. Here, upon its repentance, a heathen city was pardoned. Clearly Jehovah was the God, not of the Jews only but of the Gentiles also. Jonah, however, had no pleasure in the revelation. He clung to the bitter narrowness of national prejudice fearing that when his own people received tidings of Nineveh's repentance and deliverance, they would be encouraged in their obstinate refusal of God's law.
How often God puts gourds into our lives to refresh us with their exquisite greenery, and to remind us of His thoughtful love! Our fretfulness and petulance are no barriers to His tender mercy. The withering of the gourd extorted bitter reproaches from the prophet who would have beheld the destruction of Nineveh without a tear. He did not realize that to God Nineveh was all, and much more, than the gourd was to him. Notice the extreme beauty of the concluding verse: The permanence of the city contrasted with the frailty of the gourd! The responsibility of God for Nineveh, which He had made to grow! The preciousness to Him, not only of the mature, but of babes and cattle [source]

Chapter Summary: Jonah 4

1  Jonah repining at God's mercy,
4  is reproved by the type of a withering vine

What do the individual words in Jonah 4:8 mean?

And it came to pass when arose the sun that prepared God a wind east vehement and beat the sun on head of Jonah so that he grew faint and he wished - for himself death and said [it is] better for me to die than to live
וַיְהִ֣י ׀ כִּזְרֹ֣חַ הַשֶּׁ֗מֶשׁ וַיְמַ֨ן אֱלֹהִ֜ים ר֤וּחַ קָדִים֙ חֲרִישִׁ֔ית וַתַּ֥ךְ הַשֶּׁ֛מֶשׁ עַל־ רֹ֥אשׁ יוֹנָ֖ה וַיִּתְעַלָּ֑ף וַיִּשְׁאַ֤ל אֶת־ נַפְשׁוֹ֙ לָמ֔וּת וַיֹּ֕אמֶר ט֥וֹב מוֹתִ֖י מֵחַיָּֽי

וַיְהִ֣י ׀  And  it  came  to  pass 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אֶהְיֶה 
Sense: to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out.
כִּזְרֹ֣חַ  when  arose 
Parse: Preposition-k, Verb, Qal, Infinitive construct
Root: זָרַח  
Sense: to rise, come forth, break out, arise, rise up, shine.
הַשֶּׁ֗מֶשׁ  the  sun 
Parse: Article, Noun, common singular
Root: שֶׁמֶשׁ  
Sense: sun.
וַיְמַ֨ן  that  prepared 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Piel, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: מָנָה  
Sense: to count, reckon, number, assign, tell, appoint, prepare.
אֱלֹהִ֜ים  God 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural
Root: אֱלֹהִים  
Sense: (plural).
ר֤וּחַ  a  wind 
Parse: Noun, common singular construct
Root: רוּחַ  
Sense: wind, breath, mind, spirit.
קָדִים֙  east 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: קָדִים  
Sense: east, east wind.
חֲרִישִׁ֔ית  vehement 
Parse: Adjective, feminine singular
Root: חֲרִישִׁי  
Sense: harsh, hot, sultry, silent (meaning uncertain).
וַתַּ֥ךְ  and  beat 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Hifil, Consecutive imperfect, third person feminine singular
Root: נָכָה  
Sense: to strike, smite, hit, beat, slay, kill.
הַשֶּׁ֛מֶשׁ  the  sun 
Parse: Article, Noun, common singular
Root: שֶׁמֶשׁ  
Sense: sun.
רֹ֥אשׁ  head 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: רֹאשׁ 
Sense: head, top, summit, upper part, chief, total, sum, height, front, beginning.
יוֹנָ֖ה  of  Jonah 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יׄונָה  
Sense: son of Amittai and a native of Gath-hepher; 5th of the minor prophets who prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II and whom God sent also to prophecy to Nineveh.
וַיִּתְעַלָּ֑ף  so  that  he  grew  faint 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Hitpael, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: עָלַף  
Sense: to cover.
וַיִּשְׁאַ֤ל  and  he  wished 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: שָׁאַל 
Sense: to ask, enquire, borrow, beg.
אֶת־  - 
Parse: Direct object marker
Root: אֹות 
Sense: sign of the definite direct object, not translated in English but generally preceding and indicating the accusative.
נַפְשׁוֹ֙  for  himself 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular construct, third person masculine singular
Root: נֶפֶשׁ  
Sense: soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion.
לָמ֔וּת  death 
Parse: Preposition-l, Verb, Qal, Infinitive construct
Root: מוּת  
Sense: to die, kill, have one executed.
וַיֹּ֕אמֶר  and  said 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אָמַר 
Sense: to say, speak, utter.
ט֥וֹב  [it  is]  better 
Parse: Adjective, masculine singular
Root: טָבַב 
Sense: good, pleasant, agreeable.
מוֹתִ֖י  for  me  to  die 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct, first person common singular
Root: מוּת  
Sense: to die, kill, have one executed.
מֵחַיָּֽי  than  to  live 
Parse: Preposition-m, Noun, masculine plural construct, first person common singular
Root: חַי 
Sense: living, alive.