Matthew Chapter 12, Verse 41

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Book of Matthew
Chapter 12
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41
42
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41: The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.— edit KJV text
41: The men of Ninive shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they did penance at the preaching of Jonas. And behold a greater than Jonas here.— edit Douay text


The men of Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire. It was founded by Ashur, Gen 10:11. It was situated on the banks of the river Tigris, to the north-east of Babylon. It is now so completely destroyed that geographers are unable to ascertain whether it was on the eastern or western bank. It was a city of vast extent, and of corresponding wickedness. It was forty-eight miles in circuit; its walls were one hundred feet high, and ten thick, and were defended by fifteen hundred towers, each two hundred feet in height. It contained in the time of Jonah, it is supposed, six hundred thousand inhabitants. The destruction of Nineveh, threatened by Jonah in forty days, was suspended, by their repentance, two hundred years. It was then overthrown by the Babylonians, about six hundred years before Jesus. During the siege, a mighty inundation of the river Tigris took place, which threw down a part of the walls, through which the enemy entered, and sacked and destroyed the city. This destruction had been foretold one hundred and fifteen years before, by Nahum, Nah 1:8 "But with an overwhelming flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof." And Nah 2:6: "The gates of the river shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved." The place is completely destroyed. The very situation is unknown. If it seem strange that ancient cities are so completely destroyed that no remains of brick or stone are to be found, it should be remembered that they were built of clay dried only in the sun, and not burned; that frequent rams softened the clay; and that the mighty walls and dwellings, in the lapse of ages, would sink down into an undistinguished heap of ruins.

Shall condemn it. That is, their conduct, in repenting at Jonah's prediction, shall condemn this generation. They, ignorant and wicked heathen, repented when threatened with temporal judgment by a mere man - Jonah; you, Jews, professing to be enlightened, though threatened for your great wickedness with eternal punishment by the Son of God - -a far greater Being than Jonah - repent not, and must therefore meet with a far heavier condemnation.

-- edit commentary

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