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.