2 Kings 14, Jonah Dooms Israel
… in accordance with the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.
//Ever wonder who the most successful prophet is in the Bible? It’s unquestionably Jonah. Five words—“Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (well, that’s five words in Hebrew)—and the entire evil city repents.
Jonah, remember, is the fellow who runs away from God and boards a ship. A storm comes up, and a bit of divination by the sailors, casting lots, shows Jonah to be the cause. He tells the sailors to throw him overboard, and is swallowed by a big fish. The fish spits him up on dry land, and he decides he better do what God wants. So, he goes and preaches to Nineveh, the enemies of Israel, and they all repent. God spares the city.
Now we come to today’s verse. I wonder: is Jonah ben Amitai of the book of Kings (today’s verse) the same person as the Jonah who got swallowed by a whale? Many people think so. If so, then Jonah visited Nineveh during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 BC). This means, of course, that had Jonah been a little less successful, had Nineveh not repented, Nineveh would not have been spared, and they would not have been around to overthrow Israel later.
Jonah’s successful preaching caused Israel’s downfall.
One Jewish commentary, noting this irony, wonders if Jonah didn’t foresee Israel’s overthrow and try to drown himself in the sea rather than doom Israel by sparing Nineveh.