Jonah 4:1 and 4:6

In preparing to preach Jonah 3-4 recently, I noticed some interesting things in the text. Here is one:

Jonah 4:1 says:
וַיֵּ֥רַע אֶל־יוֹנָ֖ה רָעָ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֑ה וַיִּ֖חַר לֽוֹ׃

Jonah 4:6 ends:
וַיִּשְׂמַ֥ח יוֹנָ֛ה עַל־הַקִּֽיקָי֖וֹן שִׂמְחָ֥ה גְדוֹלָֽה

Gramatically, this construction is called an ‘internal cognate accusative’. It’s called internal because it “is an expression of the verb’s action” (IBHS 10.2.1g). It’s called cognate because the words share a common root (רעע and רעה in v1; and שׁמח and שׁמחה in v6).

The constructions seem to be purposefully paralleled. There are a few differences between the two: the presence of the DDO in v1; the prepositional clause in v6 and the lamed of possession at the end of v1. But the significance and comparison of the two constructions is clear.

What’s more important in this particular situation is the irony of the uses. Jonah’s ‘displeasure’ (ESV) comes out when the Ninevites are saved (4:1, cf 3:5) whereas his ‘exceeding gladness’ (ESV) is utterly selfish and is focussed on his own temporary comfort caused by a plant (4:6). Something is not quite right there in Jonah…


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