4:6 prepared a gourd. There are a number of fast-growing plants in the deserts of the Middle East, and commentators disagree as to the botanical identity of this “gourd.” None, however, would grow to such a height overnight, so this plant, like the fish, must be understood as miraculous. The worm which (like the fish and the gourd) had also been “prepared” by God (Jonah 4:7), must likewise have possessed miraculous abilities, to produce an overnight disintegration of such a large shade plant. The “vehement east wind” (Jonah 4:8) was also prepared by God, making Jonah so conscious of God’s concern and power with regard to his animal and plant creations, that he could finally appreciate God’s concern even for the pagan Assyrians.
4:11 right hand. This reference indicates there were 120,000 little children in Nineveh, in addition to the adolescents and adults, and God cared for them. Even though the Assyrians were mortal enemies of Israel, yet these chosen people of God needed to remember that God’s original promise to their father Abraham had included a promise that, through them, all nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Their promised Messiah was also to be “a light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49:6).
4:11 cattle. God is concerned not only about all people but also all His animal creatures—even sparrows (Matthew 10:29). Most of God’s remarkable monologue to Job, for example, deals with His providential care of the animal kingdom (Job 38:39–41:34).