3:5 believed God. Nineveh had a tremendous population of 500,000 or more, and apparently all of them turned to God. This surely was the greatest “revival” in the history of the world, and its reality was confirmed by Christ (Matthew 12:41). Yet 150 years later, the descendants of these converts had become so wicked that God finally destroyed the city through a confederacy of Babylonians, Medes, and Scythians (see Nahum 3). At the time of the revival, it seems that something very unusual about Jonah’s preaching must have been involved. According to the later Babylonian historian Berosus, the early Assyrians had a legend of a “fish-man,” Yanueh, who had come out of the sea in ancient times and had taught them all the basics on which their civilization had been established. The name Jonah is pronounced “Yonah” in Hebrew, quite similar to Yanueh. Jonah arrived from the great fish at a time when the Assyrian empire was about to decline, and the Assyrians may have thought that Jonah was Yanueh, returning to tell them what was wrong and how to reverse the worrisome trend.
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