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Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

Matthew 12:38-42 – Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

|| Luke 11:29-32

MT12:38 Some of the scribes and Pharisees[1] responded to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign[2] from you.” MT12:39 Jesus answered them, saying, “A wicked and adulterous generation[3] keeps seeking for a sign; and, no sign will be given it other than the sign of Jonah.[4] MT12:40 For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish[5] three days and three nights, just so will the Son of Humankind be in the heart of the earth[6] three days and three nights.[7] MT12:41 Male[8] Ninevites will stand up [again][9] in the judgment[10] with this generation and will condemn it[11] – because they repented at the preaching of Jonah,[12] and, look! something more of Jonah is present![13] MT12:42 The queen of the south[14] will be raised up in the judgment with this generation[15] and will condemn it – because she came from earth’s limits[16] to hear the wisdom of[17] Solomon; and, look! something more of Solomon is present.[18]

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[1] The scribes and Pharisees: Have some of them repented and changed their tune? Has the warning of the Nazarene made them think? They now address as “Teacher” the one they insinuated was in league with Beelzebul.

[2] We wish to see a sign: Paul writes, “Jews ask for signs.” (1 Corinthians 1:22; Luke 11:29) It is said of a certain Rabbi that when he was asked when Messiah would come, he responded, “I am afraid you will ask me for a sign.”

[3] Wicked and adulterous generation: Jesus does not compromise or water down his response. Surely the words are directed at the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is to use the whole condemnatory phrase again at Matthew 16:4. Or, GDSP: wicked and faithless. On the derogatory adulterous compare Jeremiah 3:6-11.

Jonah mosaic in Aquileia cathedral

Jonah mosaic in Aquileia cathedral – Mosaic of the biblical story of Jonah; in the cathedral in Aquileia, Italy. – SCALA/Art Resource, New York

[4] The sign of Jonah: This cryptic must have grabbed at the Pharisees who loved riddles. They knew the Book of Jonah well. How could this prophet be involved here?

[5] Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish: Jesus believes in the account of Jonah and the great fish which is nowhere described as a whale.

[6] Heart of the earth: Meaning Hades or the grave.

[7] Three days and three nights: A Hebraism meaning any part of three days or less. It is clear Jesus was to be raised the third day for he so states (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; Luke 24:46). Compare 1 Kings 12:12ff (Hosea 6:2; 1 Corinthians 15:4).

[8] Male: There are a number of Greek words that may be translated “man (men).” Here the Greek is ANDRES (ANDROS).

[9] Stand up [again]: The Greek is ANASTESONTAI and essentially means the same as the English “resurrected.” Related words occur in the third century BC Jewish Greek Septuagint (LXX): Job 14:12 (ANASTE), Job 42:17 (ANASTESESTHAI, ANISTESIN), Isaiah 26:19 (ANASTESONTAI), Daniel 12:13 (ANASTESE). Jesus uses forms of the word over a dozen times. Compare John 5:28, 29 where the Nazarene alludes to Isaiah 26:19 LXX.

[10] In the judgment: Or, Judgment Day. Or, NEB: when this generation is on trial; WEY: awake at the judgment. See the key words Judgment Day and resurrection. See Revelation 20:5, 12-14.

[11] Will condemn it: Or, LAM: find it guilty; KNX: will leave it without excuse.

[12] They repented at the preaching of Jonah: Read Jonah chapter 3. Tens of thousands of people responded to Jonah’s warning and as a result the city was spare, much to the disappointment of Jonah who was then taught another divine lesson.

[13] Something more of Jonah is present: Or, KJV: behold, a greater than Jonas is here; TCNT: here is more than a Jonah; WEY: and, mark! there is One greater than Jonah here. He means himself.

[14] Queen of the south: Jesus means the Queen of Sheba who journeyed to hear Solomon for herself (1 Kings 10:1-10). It was not Solomon per se but his God which motivated her, for the account reads, “the report regarding Solomon with regard to the name of Yehowah.”

[15] Raised up in the judgment with this generation: From the Nazarene here we know the Ninevites, the queen of Sheba, and that generation will be resurrected (Acts 24:15).

[16] She came from earth’s limits: She traveled 1,200 miles from northern Africa. This was one serious effort on her part and her entourage. The great trade routes to and from Jerusalem were classically great.

[17] To hear the wisdom of: The contrast between the effort of this godly lady and the Nazarene’s generation is stark. What do they have before them and instead of listening to wisdom they accuse him of demonism and ask for an evidence.

[18] Something more of Solomon is present: Solomon is said to have written 3,000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:32). He wrote Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. And, yet, this crowd as much more before them in Jesus. How Solomon will fair in the resurrection is left to the judgment of God.

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Preceding

Matthew 12:1-8 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Something Greater than the Temple

Matthew 12:9-21 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Is It Lawful to Cure on the Sabbath?

Matthew 12:22-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: the Charge of Demonism

Matthew 12:31-32 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Blasphemy against the Pneuma

Matthew 12:33-37 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Judgment Day

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Related

  1. Matthew 12丨C. H. Spurgeon
  2. The Sign of Jonah: Swallowed in Death, Raised in Life (Jonah 1:17; Matthew 12:38–41)
  3. Matthew 12, Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath,blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the sign of Jonah, Jesus’ brothers and sisters.
  4. 4-30-2018 Bible Study – Life of Messiah Study 46
  5. Did Jesus Really Spend Three Days in the Heart of the Earth?
  6. Bible study: what difference does the resurrection of Jesus make?
  7. Looking for a Sign
  8. Favorite 21 Signs of the Prophets
  9. This Wicked and Perverse Generation
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