Who Was Jonah?

The questions below come from Chapter 4 of Volume 7 of BH Carroll‘s “An Interpretation of the English Bible.”

Who was Jonah and what was the time of his writing?

According to 2 Kings 14, he was the son of a prophet named Amittai and he
prophesied during the regin of King Jeroboam II in Israel.  He grew up in a
small town just north of Nazareth.

What are the New Testament scriptural references to the book of Jonah?

Matt 12:39-41, Matt 16:4, Luke 11:29-32 all record Jesus prophesying the “sign
of Jonah” to the evil generation of His day.

What is the purpose of this book?

1) To teach that salvation is possible for the gentiles
2) To illustrate true repentance – Jonah, Ninevites
3) To typify Christ

What is the style and character of the book?

The book is not prophetical, but rather historical.  It is included in the
prophets because Jonah was himself a prophet.

What doctrines are illustrated by the incidents of the book?

1) Resurrection (see Mt 12:39)
2) Repentance
3) Mercy and kindness of God
4) Will of God triumphs over the will of man

Give an account of Nineveh

– Nineveh was founded by Nimrod (Gn 10:11), as a colony of Babylon
– Shalmaaneser joined with Moab and Ammon against Israel, but the Israelites
were victorious
– Jonah teaches that Nineveh was a “great city” on the Tigris river and that
it’s breadth was 3 days journey (60 miles)
– According to Carroll, “Its walls were sixty feet high, with 1,500 towers, 200
feet high. The walls were broad enough on top to receive three chariots
driving side by side. It is almost certain that this city was larger than
Babylon, especially if we include in the estimate its suburbs.

What was the form of religion in Nineveh at this time?

– The Ninevites worshiped a fish god “merman” named Dagon.  Several carvings of this god have been found in excavations of the ancient city.  It is this same Dagon that the Philistines worshiped and in whose temple the Ark of the Covenant was placed, when it was captured (1 Sam 5).

What is the outline of this book?

1) Jonah’s disobedience and casting into the sea
2) Jonah’s deliverance from the sea
3) Jonah’s obedience and preaching
4) Jonah’s displeasure at God’s mercy

What were Jonah’s reasons for not wanting to go to Nineveh?

1) He hated the idolatrous gentiles
2) He knew God would be merciful to them, if they repented
3) Assyria was becoming a political threat to Israel

What was the casting lots in 1:7?

It was the method used to determine the Providence of Yahweh.  It was used in Acts 1 to determine which follower of Jesus would serve in Judas’ place as Apostle.

What was the remedy for the case as proposed by Jonah and how did it meet the approval of the sailors?

The sailors did not want to be guilty of innocent blood (by casting Jonah into the sea), but relented when they feared the storm would kill them. In this, the sailors showed a greater fear for the One True God than His prophet Jonah, who tried to flee from His will.

How do you explain their fearing Jehovah and sacrificing unto him?

When the sea stopped raging, after Jonah was thrown overboard, the sailors knew
that the powerful storm was from Yahweh.  They offered sacrifices to Him as
evidence of their faith in His power.

What about the fish that swallowed Jonah?

According to Carrol, the Mediterranean contains sperm whales and white sharks
large enough to swallow a man whole.

What was Jonah’s second commission?

God gave Jonah the opportunity to repent from his sin and a second chance to be
obedient to God’s will.  After this episode, Jonah was enabled to impress upon
the Ninevites the power of Yahweh over the Ninevite fish-god Dagon.  In 3:1-2,
we see God’s Call, God’s Commandment, and God’s Instruction.

What is God’s attitude toward sinners shown in 3:4?

God thunders the law of Sinai over sinners heads, but offers sweet mercy if they
repent.  In this case, Jonah repented from fleeing God’s will.  At the preaching
of Jonah, the Ninevites repent of their sins.  At the repentence of the
Ninevites, God repents of the calamity He threatened to bring on the city.

What happens in 3:5-10?

In 3:5-10, the people repent.  The sackcloth and fasting are evidences that followed
their faith and repentance.

How did Jonah receive the fact of the conversion of the Ninevites and God’s mercy to them and how did God deal with him?

Jonah demonstrated the heart of a legalist, because he was bitter that God showed
the Ninevites mercy.  God dealt gently with Jonah, by showing him the
illustration of the gourd.

How is the relation of the resurrection and the commission of Christ illustrated
in this book?

After Jonah was 3 days in the belly of fish, he came forth and preached
repentance and faith in God to the gentiles.  Christ was 3 days in the belly of
the earth, and resurrected, and by His Spirit preached repentance and faith in
God to the gentile nations.

An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign
be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days
and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and
three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in
judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at
the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matt
12:39-42)

Who Was Joel?

The questions below come from Chapter 3 of Volume 7 of BH Carroll‘s “An Interpretation of the English Bible.”

Who was Joel?

Joel was a prophet, the son of a Pethuel, and probably a resident of Jerusalem.  Not much else is known about him.

What the date of this prophecy?

The date of Jeol’s prophecy is unknown.  Older writers favor an older date during the reign of Joash (800s BC).  Newer authors put his writing in the 400s BC.

What the occasion of this prophecy?

The occasion of the prophecy is a plague of locusts which destroy the land and devour all the food.  The prophecy may refer to a literal plague or may represent in invading army (Babylon?) that destroys Israel.  The cause for the invasion is because of the sin of Judah.  Joel calls on Judah to repent in order to turn away the judgement of God.

To whom was this prophecy given and how do you explain the use of the name “Israel” in 2:27; 3:2, 16?

The prophecy is given to the Kingdom of Judah.  References to Israel are to the descendants of Jacob that live in the Southern Kingdom.

What are the essential points in the analysis of this book?

  • The Judgement of God
    • The locust invasion (1:1-20)
    • The Day of the LORD: Invasion of a northern army (2:1-17)
  • The Kingdom of God
    • God delivers Israel from the invaders (2:18-32)
    • The LORD judges all the nations (3:1-21)

What formula of introduction is found in the title to this book?

“The word of the LORD that came to Joel”

What the interpretation of the coming of the locusts?

Modern writers believe that the locust invasion was a literal plague that happened in Joel’s day.  According to Carrol and the older writers, the 4 locust invasions listed in Joel 1 are an allegory for 4 world powers that threaten the southern kingdom: Babylon, Persia, Greek, and Rome.

Carrol believes the invasion is not a literal locust invasion because:

  1. The writing is apocalyptic in nature.  It is a prophecy about a great national calamity, not an agricultural history
  2. A description is given in chapter 2 of a literal northern army invasion.  This is either a second calamity that will one day befall Israel, or it is describing, in literal terms, the allegory of chapter 1.
  3. The impact of the “Day of the LORD” is far worse than would be effected by a plague of locusts
  4. Rev 9:3-11 describe a locust invasion as a symbol for an invading army

According to this position, then how interpret 1:2 to 2:27?

According to the allegorical position, the locust invasion and “Day of the Lord” invasion of chapter 2 are the same invasion (perhaps Babylon or Assyria).  The invaders threaten total devastation, necessitating the repentance of Judah.  When Judah fasts and repents, God will have pity on His people and drive the invaders from the land.  He will then restore the fortunes of the nation (grain, wine, oil).

What is the promise in 2:28-32 and where do we find the fulfillment?

Afterward, God will pour out His spirit on “all flesh” (all kinds of people) – young and old, men and women will dream dreams and prophesy.  Peter applied the fulfillment of this prophecy to the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of His Spirit on Pentecost:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  …And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. …Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, …this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;  “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smokeThe sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come”  

(Acts 2:1-20)

What the judgments of 3:1-21 and when their fulfillment?

This is God’s Judgment on the heathen nations that oppose His people.  God summons them to the battlefield, where He pours out His wrath on them.

 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. and [false spirits] go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.  …Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.  …God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.

(Rev 16:12-19)

According to Carroll,  this event ushers in the millennium in which the Prince of Judah will win the victory over the world, bring about the full manifestation of His kingdom, and disseminate knowledge of Himself to the ends of the earth.

What ideas appear for the first time in Joel and what their application?

“Day of the LORD” – refers to a time of God’s Judgment – First on Israel which results in Israel’s conversion; and second upon the Heathen, which results in their destruction.  It finds its ultimate and final fulfillment in the last great day of judgment.

What the most important lessons of this book?

  1. God will punish disobedience
  2. He will be merciful to those that repent
  3. God will pour out His Spirit on His people in the last days
  4. God will save everyone who calls upon Him (2:32)
  5. Evil may triumph for a season, but God will have final victory over all things

Who Was Obadiah?

The questions below come from Chapter 1 of Volume 7 of BH Carroll‘s “An Interpretation of the English Bible.”

1. Who was Obadiah?

He was an prophet of Judah, whose name means “Servant of Jehovah”.  Nothing
else is known about him.

2. What the theme of his prophecy?

That Edom would be punished for taking advantage of Judah while Judah was
under attack by a foreign invader.

3. What the date and circumstances of this prophecy?

This is debatable.  Some think it takes place very early when the Philistines
and Arabians plundered Jerusalem because of the sins of Jehoram (2 Chron
21:16-17).  Other believe this prophecy came about during the initial stages
of the Babylonian captivity.

4. What was the attitude of Edom toward Israel and what the history which evidences this attitude?

The Edomites held hostility against the Israelites from the time of the split
between Jacob (father of Israel) and Esau (father of Edom); to the time when
the Edomites would not allow the Israelite slaves to travel from their land
after the exodus from Egypt.

The LORD says, through Obadiah, that the Edomites are full of pride and have
taken advantage of Israel during her distress by taking prisoners and
stealing her goods.

5. What of the general character of the book?

According to Carroll, “The style of Obadiah is remarkably original. …The
language is full of thought and pregnant with meaning. It has a vigor,
terseness, and rapidity which carry the reader along and place him by the
prophet’s side in fullest sympathy.”

6. What other passages of Scripture should be studied with Obadiah?

Jeremiah 49:7-22 and Ezekiel 35 both describe the arrogance of Edom and
God’s judgement against her.

7. Give a brief analysis of the book.

– vss 1-14:  God’s Judgement Because of Edom’s Arrogance and Treatment of Israel
– vss 15-21: The Day of the LORD and the Kingdom of God

8. What is the summary of verses 1-2?

God calls the nations to rise up against Edom to destroy her.

9. What was the character of the Edomites and what was the place of their security?

– The Edomites were proud and arrogant.
– The dwelt securely in the tops of the mountains

10. How is the completeness of the desolation described?

– Nothing will be left – it will be a complete desolation.

11. What reason did the prophet here assign for such desolation?

Edom sided with Israel’s enemies, plundered Israel, and rejoiced in her calamity.

12. What hope for Israel’s victory does the prophet here hold out to the people and how is it to be realized?

Israel will have final victory.  She will be as a flame and Edom will be as
stubble that will be burned and destroyed.

13. When were Obadiah’s prophecies fulfilled?

Edom was destroyed in the 6th Century BC by the Babylonians.  The survivors
pushed into the Negev region of Southern Judah – an area known as Idumea in
the New Testament.  These Idumeans were forced into Judaism and incorporated
into the Kingdom of Judah in the Second Century BC.

The LORD’s kingdom and Israelite posession of the Edomite land (modern
Jordan) will be fulfilled in the last days.

14. What are the lessons of the prophecy of Obadiah?

Love your brother
Pride goes before the fall
Beware of false confidence
Fear God’s wrath

Who Were the Later Prophets?

The questions below come from Chapter 1 of Volume 7 of BH Carroll‘s “An Interpretation of the English Bible.”

Introduction – The Prophets in General

1. What section of the Bible are we studying?

The later prophets

2. What can you say, in general, of the commentaries on this section?

Generally, older commentaries are better (pre-1880s), but some conservative modern works may be consulted judiciously.

3. What commentaries are especially commendable?

– Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
– Hengstenberg
– The Pulpit Commentary

4. What are the time limits of the prophetic period and what was the special mission of the prophets?

This period extends 700 years from Samuel to Malachi.

The mission of the prophets was to preach against the despotism of the kings and formalism of the priesthood.

5. What is the definition of the word “prophet”?

The Greek word (prophetes) means “to speak for”, i.e. on behalf of another, so the prophet is one that speaks on behalf of God to man.

6. By what words or terms were the prophets known? Give an illustration of each.

Hebrew nabhi  – means “speaker”
Hebrew ro’eh  – means “seer”
Hebrew chozeh – means “messenger”

also called, “man of God”, “servant of Jehovah”, etc.

7. What can you say about the inspiration of the prophets?

Their minds were stimulated and guided by the Holy Spirit as they proclaimed the message of Jehovah.

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Pet 1:21)

8. What can you say about prophecy and fulfillment, and what does Orelli say
   about fulfillment of prophecy?

Many prophecies receive successive fulfillments, but one fulfillment is higher and greater than all the rest.  Orelli says, A prophecy can only be regarded as fulfilled when the whole body of truth included in it has attained living realization.”

9. What were the three great periods of writing prophets and who were the writing prophets of each of these periods?

The Assyrian Period, the Chaldean Period, and the Persian Period.

The Assyrian Period:

1) Obadiah
2) Joel
3) Jonah
4) Amos
5) Hosea
6) Isaiah
7) Micah
8) Nahum

The Chaldean Period:

1) Zephaniah
2) Habakkuk
3) Jeremiah
4) Ezekiel
5) Daniel

The Persian Period:

1) Haggai
2) Zechariah
3) Malachi

10. What are the three distinct elements for which a student of the prophets should look?

1) The historical context in which the prophet lived
2) The fulfillment (past or future) of the prophet’s message
3) Age-abiding principles that speak to our age

11. What are certain things that should be remembered in a study of the prophets?

1) Sovereignty of God
2) Obedience to God
3) Glory to God
4) A living hope that God would have ultimate victory

12. What are important considerations in the interpretation of prophecy?

1) Their teaching was full of figures, symbols, parables, and allegories to confound the simple and unbelieving.
2) Understanding the Pentateuch is necessary to understand these figures and symbols

13. What are the underlying themes found throughout predictive prophecy?

1) The failure of the Jewish nation
2) The coming of the Jewish Messiah
3) The establishment of the Messiah’s Kingdom
4) The restoration of the Jews to that Kingdom
5) The spread of that Kingdom over the whole earth

What Was the Assyrian Empire?

The Name

The name Assyria is derived from the Greek name Ashur (a descendant of Cush). According to Genesis 10, Cush was one of the sons of Ham, and Cush begat Nimrod the mighty hunter. Nimrod was apparently a builder, as he founded Babel, as well as other important early cities in the land of Shinar (the region we now call Mesopotamia). Out of this region went Ashur, who built the prime cities of the region – Nineveh, Rehoboth, and Calah. These cities are located in the Tigris river valley in northern modern day Iraq (south of the present city of Mosul).

Geography

The Assyrian Empire extended from its chief city-state Assur in upper Mesopotamia on the Tigris River. At its peak, it extended from Babylon in the South, to the Kurdish mountains in the North. It occupied the Persian lands now known as Iran and extended as far west as Egypt. The Empire fell in the third century before Christ and was later conquered by the Medes and Romans. It was a hotbed of Christian growth for several centuries before the region was conquered by the Islamic Arabs.

Religion

The religion, art, and culture of Assyria was greatly derived from the Babylonians. The national god of the Assyrian people was Assur, who had the Assyrian King as his high priest. This god was also associated with Asherah, “the queen of heaven”, whose worship spread into Israel in the 10th century. Another important god of the Assyrian people was Ishtar, a Babylonian goddess, whose temple was at Ninevah, the capital city of Assyria.

History

The Kingdom of Assyria came to great prominence under King Tiglath-pileser I in the early 1100s BC (about the time of the reign of Saul over Israel). He extended the empire as far west as the Mediterranean. Later the kingdom declined (during the reigns of David, Solomon, and Solomon’s sons), but was greatly revived (Neo-Assyrian Empire) under the leadership of Assur-nazir-pal III (911 BC). His son, Shalmaneser III, who reigned during the period of Israelite prophets Elija and Elisha, organized all of these conquered territories in the mid-800s and extended the kingdom east and west, destroyed Syria, conquered Persia and Babylon and posed a great threat to Judah. Later Neo-Assyrian Kings (Tiglath-Pileser III, Shalmaneser V, and Sargon II) drove the Egyptians out of Canaan and conquered Samaria and the 10 Israelite Tribes comprising the northern kingdom of Israel. The conquered people were taken into captivity and resettled into new lands, never to return.

Shalmaneser’s son Sennacherib and moved the capital city to Nineveh, defeated the Greeks, and extended his power into Asia Minor. Egypt, trying to gain a foothold in the region, united with Israel (Hezekiah) and several other small nations (Sidon, Ascalon, and Ekron), but was driven out by Sennacherib in 701 BC. The Assyrians conquered Sidon, Ascalon, and Ekron and destroyed much of the land of Judah, but did not conquer Jerusalem. The Judeans paid tribute to Sennacherib and he left.

The Assyrians continued to exert power in the region until the rise of the Median and Persian kings in the 600s and 500s, respectively.