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Jonah 3 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Jonah 3 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.

"Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey." That would make it about 60 miles in diameter -- larger than Los Angeles!
Nineveh was perhaps the largest city of the world at that time, twice as large as Babylon:

At this time the total area of Nineveh comprised about 7 square kilometres (1,730 acres), and fifteen great gates penetrated its walls. An elaborate system of eighteen canals brought water from the hills to Nineveh, and several sections of a magnificently constructed aqueduct erected by Sennacherib were discovered at Jerwan, about 65 kilometres (40 mi) distant. The enclosed area had more than 100,000 inhabitants (maybe closer to 150,000), about twice as many as Babylon at the time, placing it among the largest settlements worldwide.

So what is meant by “city of three days’ journey”? The author of the SAB interprets it as going from one end straight to the other. Others have interpreted it as the time it would take to walk around the circumference of the city. Given current archaeological data, both solutions have to be rejected.
There are other solutions, discussed in three nice video presentations by Charles Halton. I currently favour Charles Halton's answer that it is a figure of speech (which was not an exaggeration), used to evoke within the listener an awe about the size of the city, which was indeed the largest in the Middle East at that time, and with enormous grandeur.

4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Jonah prophesies that in forty days Nineveh shall be overthrown. But it didn't happen because God repented (Jonah 3:10).
Yes, the punishment for Nineveh was postponed. But the prophecy of Nahum (Nahum 3:7) was not met with the same response from the Assyrians. And so Nineveh was destroyed in 626 BC (according to Bishop Ussher).

5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

Everyone in Nineveh (pop. 120,000) turned to God? Jonah must be one hell of a preacher!
The population was much larger. The 120,000 is just the number of infants (Jonah 4:11). That implies the number of inhabitants was probably between 600,000 and 700,000.

6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:

8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

God wants the "beasts" to cover themselves with sackcloth and "cry mightily unto God."
This command was given by the king of Nineveh.

9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

"God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them." (Despite his repentance, God supposedly destroyed Nineveh a little over a century after Jonah, in Nahum 3:1-7.)
Does God repent?
God repented this time, because they had turned from their evil ways. Why would that mean God would never punish them if they turned again to evil?
Also note that Nahum is a prophecy of the coming destruction. It's not history. His prophecy was fulfilled some years later.