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I would add a couple observations. First, the Ninevites (Assyrians) were extremely cruel. Historians tell of their conquests in the most vivid terms. When a city surrendered, without resisting, Ninevites would reward them by beheading the governor and all the leaders of the city, before mounting their heads on the city gates. The people would commonly be sold as slaves. Cities who resisted them and fell, on the other hand, would have every surviving male buried in the ground up to their necks in the plane before the city, followed by the Ninevite cavalry trampling them. The fates of women and children were often worse. Such base cruelty might seem unworthy of God's mercy, even to the most humble soul, especially if he had family or friends who had suffered such fates. One thing is certain, every soul anywhere near the Levant was fully aware, if not outright terrified of the Ninevites, so it is no wonder Jonah would begrudge them mercy. The heart of the matter, though, is that Jonah, whether through human bitterness, logic or self-righteousness, rebelled against God's command, because he believed he knew better than God, what was best for the Ninevites and the world, rather than following God's command. By Jonah's ultimate obedience, 1. God demonstrated true justice by not condemning a population of ignorant humans, without a chance to know and repent of their wicked ways. It also spared their animals. (Jon 4:11 NAS.) 2. God demonstrate His omniscience. Since God knows the end of a matter from the beginning, (is 46:7) He had already chosen the Ninevites as a tool to chastise the 10 tribes of Israel, but He could not use them as they were. If he had, there might have been a genocide rather than a dispersion. In fact, although the Ninevites did fall back into idolatry and pagan worship, history ascribes no more of those extreme atrocities to them, as were practiced before Jonah's visit. Thus we have a powerful example of why we must not lean on our own understanding, in following God's commands (Prov 3:5-6).
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