And the Lord God prepared a gourd
So the Septuagint render the word; but some say that a worm will not touch that; Jerom renders it an ivy; but neither the gourd nor that rise upwards without some props to support them. The Hebrew word is "kikaion", the same with the "kiki", or "cici", of Herodotus F3, Dioscorides F4, Strabo F5, and Pliny F6; a plant frequent in Egypt, of which the Egyptians made an oil; hence the Talmudists F7 make mention of the oil of "kik", which Reshlakish says is the "kikaion" of Jonah; and which is the same that the Arabians call "alcheroa" or "alcherva", according to Samuel ben Hophni F8, Maimonides F9, Bartenora F11, and Jerom F12; and which is well known to be the "ricinus", or "palma Christi"; and which, by the description of it, according to all the above writers, bids fairest
F13 to be here intended; it rising up to the height of a tree, an olive tree, having very large broad leaves, like those of vines, or of plantain; and springing up suddenly, as Pliny says it does in Spain; and Clusius affirms he saw at the straits of Gibraltar a ricinus of the thickness of a man, and of the height of three men; and Bellonius, who travelled through Syria and Palestine, saw one in Crete of the size of a tree; and Dietericus F14, who relates the above, says he saw himself, in a garden at Leyden, well furnished and enriched with exotic plants, an American ricinus, the stalk of which was hollow, weak, and soft, and the leaves almost a foot and a half; and which Adolphus Vorstius, he adds, took to be the same which Jonah had for a shade; with which agrees what Dioscorides F15 says, that there is a sort of it which grows large like a tree, and as high as a fig tree; the leaves of it are like those of a palm tree, though broader, smoother, and blacker; the branches and trunk of it are hollow like a reed: and what may seem more to confirm this is, that a certain number of grains of the seed of the ricinus very much provoke vomiting; which, if true, as Marinus F16 observes, the word here used may be derived from (awq) , which signifies to vomit; from whence is the word (ayq) , vomiting; and the first radical being here doubled may increase the signification, and show it to be a great emetic; and the like virtue of the ricinus is observed by others F17. Jerom allegorizes it of the ceremonial law, under the shadow of which Israel dwelt for a while; and then was abrogated by Christ, who says he was a worm, and no man: but it is better to apply it to outward mercies and earthly enjoyments, which like this plant spring out of the earth, and have their root in it, and are of the nature of it, and therefore minded by earthly and carnal men above all others; they are thin, slight, and slender things; there is no solidity and substance in them, like the kiki, whose stalk is hollow as a reed, as Dioscorides says; they are light and empty things, vanity and vexation of spirit; spring up suddenly sometimes, and are gone as soon; some men come to riches and honour at once, and rise up to a very great pitch of both, and quickly fall into poverty and disgrace again; for these are very uncertain perishing things, like this herb or plant, or even as grass, which soon withers away. They are indeed of God, who is the Father of mercies, and are the gifts of his providence, and not the merit of men; they are disposed of according to his will, and "prepared" by him in his purposes, and given forth according to them, and in his covenant to his own special people, and are to them blessings indeed: and made [it] to come up over Jonah;
over his head, as follows; and it may be over the booth he had built, which was become in a manner useless; the leaves of the boughs of which it was made being withered with the heat of the sun; it came over him so as to cover him all over; which may denote both the necessity of outward mercies, as food and raiment, which the Lord knows his people have need of; and the sufficiency of them he grants, with which they should be content: that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief;
either from the vexation of mind at the repentance of the Ninevites, and the mercy shown them; this being a refreshment unto him, and which he might take as a new token of the Lord's favourable regard to him, after the offence he had given him, and gentle reproof for it; or from the headache, with which he was thought to have been afflicted, through his vexation; or by the heat of the sun; or rather it was to shelter him from the heat of the sun, and the distress that gave him: so outward mercies, like a reviving and refreshing shadow, exhilarate the spirits, and are a defence against the injuries and insults of men, and a preservative from the grief and distress which poverty brings with it: so Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd;
or, "rejoiced with a great joy" F18; he was excessively and above measure glad of it, because of its usefulness to him: outward mercies are what we should be thankful for; and it is good for men to rejoice in their labours, and enjoy the good of them; to eat their bread with a merry heart and cheerfulness; but should not be elevated with them beyond measure, lifted up with pride, and boast and glory of them, and rejoice in such boastings, which is evil; or rejoice in them as their portion, placing their happiness therein, which is to rejoice in a thing of naught; or to overrate mercies, and show more affection for them than for God himself, the giver of them, who only should be our "exceeding joy"; and, when this is the case, it is much if they are not quickly taken away, as Jonah's gourd was, as follows:
F3 Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 94.
F4 L. 4. c. 164.
F5 Geograph. l. 17. p. 566.
F6 Nat. Hist. l. 15. c. 7.
F7 Misa. Sabbat, c. 2. sect. 1. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 21. 2.
F8 In Kimchi in loc.
F9 In Misna Sabbat, c. 2. sect. 1.
F11 In ib.
F12 In loc.
F13 Vid. Weidlingt. Dissert. de Kikaion, apud Thesaur. Theolog. Phil. Dissert. vol. 1. p. 989. & Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 24. p. 293, 294. & l. 4. c. 27. p. 623. & Geograph. par. 1. col. 918, 919. & Liveleum in loc.
F14 Antiqu. Bibl. par. 1. p. 82.
F15 Apud Calmet's Dictionary, in the word "Kikaion".
F16 Arca Noae, tom. 2. fol. 135.
F17 Hillerus in Hierophytico, par. 1. p. 453. apud Burkium in loc.
F18 (hlwdg hxmv-xmvyw) "et laetatus est----magna laetitia", Pagninus, Montanus; "et laetabaturque laetitia magna", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "gavisus est gaudio magno", Burkius,