For word came unto the king of Nineveh
Who was not Sardanapalus, a very dissolute prince, and abandoned to his lusts; but rather Pul, the same that came against Menahem king of Israel, ( 2 Kings 15:19 ) , as Bishop Usher F19 thinks; to him news were brought that there was such a prophet come into the city, and published such and such things, which met with credit among the people; and that these, of all ranks and degrees, age and sex, were afflicted with it, and thrown into the utmost concern about it; so very swiftly did the ministry of Jonah spread in the city; and what he delivered was so quickly carried from one to another, that in one day's time it reached the palace, and the royal ear: and he arose from his throne;
where he sat in great majesty and splendour, encircled by his nobles, receiving their caresses and compliments; or, it may be, giving audience to foreign ambassadors, sent to court his friendship and alliance; or hearing causes, and redressing the grievances of his subjects; for he appears to be one that did not indulge himself in hunting, and such like exercises, or in his lusts and pleasures: and he laid his robe from him;
his royal apparel, his imperial robe, and garments of his glory, as the Targum; or his glorious garments, with which he was richly and most magnificently arrayed; he put off these, and left his throne, in token of his concern at hearing such dismal tidings as the overthrow of his capital city, and of his humiliation and abasement: and covered [him] with sackcloth;
which was very rough and coarse, and must be very disagreeable to a person so tender and delicate, and was what the meanest of his subjects wore on this occasion: and sat in ashes;
or "in the" or "that ashes" F20; used in such times of mourning, which were either strewed under him, or put upon his head; and this, with the other, were done to afflict the body, and affect the mind with a sense of sin, and the misery threatened for sin, and to shaw deep humiliation for it.
F19 Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3233. Vid. Rollin's Ancient History, vol. 2. p. 30.
F20 (rpah le) "in cinere illo", Vatablus, Tarnovius.