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How does Jonah become a sign to the people of Nineveh in Luke 11:30.

Luke 11:30 (ESV) 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.

In Mat 12:39 — Mat 12:40 (ESV)

39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

...it is clear that the sign of Jonah was his miraculous deliverance from death in the fish. Is the sign of Jonah in Matthew the same as the sign of Jonah in Luke? If so does the scripture somehow infer that the Ninevites were aware of this miracle? Can the miracle be a sign to Nineveh if they were never aware of it? And should we understand the dative in Luke 11:30 as Jonah becoming a sign to the people of Nineveh as an end reached or in the people of Nineveh as a setting where the sign took place?

Alternatively, is the sign, that Jonah became to the people of Nineveh, merely his minimalist prophecy of doom?

Jonah 3:4-5 (ESV) 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

If it is, instead, this bare minimum call to repentance, how does this relate to the comparison to Jesus?

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According to HELPS Word-studies,

4592 sēmeíon – a sign (typically miraculous), given especially to confirm, corroborate or authenticate. 4592 /sēmeíon ("sign") then emphasizes the end-purpose which exalts the one giving it. Accordingly, it is used dozens of times in the NT for what authenticates the Lord and His eternal purpose, especially by doing what mere man can not replicate of take credit for.

So the word sign could involve supernatural or natural works. For your question, it involves both.

Matthew 12:39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.

Luke 11:29 As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. 30For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. 32The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.

  1. The sign indicates the preaching of repentance by Jonah and Jesus.
  2. The sign indicates the miraculous returns of Jonah and Jesus after 3 days of embedded dislocation.

Is the sign of Jonah in Matthew the same as the sign of Jonah in Luke?

Yes, if the word sign means natural or supernatural works.

If so does the scripture somehow infer that the Ninevites were aware of this miracle?

Not necessarily. It is ambiguous.

Can the miracle be a sign to Nineveh if they were never aware of it?

Yes because the sign has to achieve its end-purpose.

Should we understand the dative in Luke 11:30 as Jonah becoming a sign to the people of Nineveh as an end reached or in the people of Nineveh as a setting where the sign took place?

Both.

After Jonah returned from the belly of the fish, the gentile Ninevites repented. After the resurrection of Jesus, the gentile Romans and Greeks repented.

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How does the Sign of Jonah relate to the Resurrection of Jesus?

Nineveh (נִֽינְוֵ֖ה) worshiped the fish-idol "Dagon" (דָּגֽוֹן). After being saved from the belly (מִמְּעֵ֖י הַדָּגָֽה) of the Great Fish (דָּ֣ג גָּד֔וֹל), Yonah (יוֹנָה֙) became a Sign representing the Authority of the living God YHVH over the fish-idol Dagon. ** Salvation from the grave after 3-nights ** is also used as a Sign by Yeshua (Jesus) ha-Meshiach (the-Messiah) after His roman crucifixion to prove the eternal God YHVH has authority over the deified Caesar. - Notice the #Belly (מְּעֵ֖י) of the Fish [Jonah 2:1-2] & #Heart (καρδίᾳ) of the Earth [Matthew 12:39-40] both represent the grave from which the prophets of YHVH were resurrected.

Jonah 2:1 [MT] "And YHVH appointed a great fish to swallow up Yonah, and Yonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights." (וַיְמַ֚ן יְהֹוָה֙ דָּ֣ג גָּד֔וֹל לִבְלֹ֖עַ אֶת־יוֹנָ֑ה וַיְהִ֚י יוֹנָה֙ בִּמְעֵ֣י הַדָּ֔ג שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה יָמִ֖ים וּשְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה לֵילֽוֹת)

Jonah 2:2 [MT] "And Yonah prayed to YHVH his God, from the belly of the fish." (וַיִּתְפַּלֵּ֣ל יוֹנָ֔ה אֶל־יְהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהָ֑יו מִמְּעֵ֖י הַדָּגָֽה)

Jonah 2:11 [MT] "And YHVH spoke to the fish, and it spewed Yonah onto the dry land." (וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהֹוָ֖ה לַדָּ֑ג וַיָּקֵ֥א אֶת־יוֹנָ֖ה אֶל־הַיַּבָּשָֽׁה)

Matthew 12:39-40 [ESV] "But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

  • Yeshua's implication in [Matthew 12:39-40] was that the people of Nineveh actually knew Yonah was saved from the great fish because he was a repentant prophet of YHVH. - The Sign of Yonah (Jonah) directly relates to God's authority over false idolatry.

  • Yeshua (Jesus) wanted Rome to know YHVH had power over Caesar, just like Yonah (יוֹנָה֙) wanted Nineveh to know YHVH had power over Dagon. - To learn more about the false fish-god "Dagon", reference: [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4849-dagon]

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    Thanks for the response. It seems you answered a slightly different question than the ones I asked. Do you think that Jonah's rescue from death was actually made known to the ninevites at that time despite the silence of scripture? It's hard for a miracle to be a sign if no one knows about it. – Austin Sep 7 at 17:35
  • Yeshua's implication in [Matthew 12:39-40] was that the repentant people of Nineveh actually knew Yonah was saved from the great fish because he was a prophet of YHVH. - The Sign of Yonah (Jonah) directly relates to God's authority over false idolatry. – Visual Hermeneutics Sep 7 at 17:39
  • It's interesting that you would gather that from Matthew 12:39-40. I wonder how you arrived at that conclusion since Nineveh is not mentioned in those verses. – Austin Sep 7 at 17:43
  • In context to the scroll of Yonah (יוֹנָה֙), Nineveh is the evil nation which God tells Yonah (Jonah) to go & save - We read in [Jonah 3:1] "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and proclaim upon it the proclamation that I speak to you." (ק֛וּם לֵ֥ךְ אֶל־נִֽינְוֵ֖ה הָעִ֣יר הַגְּדוֹלָ֑ה וּקְרָ֚א אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ אֶת־הַקְּרִיאָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָֽנֹכִ֖י דֹּבֵ֥ר אֵלֶֽיךָ) – Visual Hermeneutics Sep 7 at 17:49
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Implicit in the question appears to be the assumption the destruction of a city is rather foreign to the Messiah's mission but it is not. It is very central. I like to say that the Revelation is "A Tale of Two Cities"... the judgment and destruction of the temple, Jerusalem and the temple-based theocracy and the establishment of the Kingdom of God aka Resurrected Israel aka the Israel of God aka the True Vine aka the New Jerusalem etc.

As Jonah's resurrection onto the beach of Nineveh was evidence that Jonah's call to repentance (or Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days), so Jesus' resurrection was to be the singular evidence that Jesus' generation/contemporaries need to repent or Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed within 40 years:

[Mat 3:7-12 NKJV] (7) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (8) "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, (9) "and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as [our] father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. (10) "And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (11) "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (12) "His winnowing fan [is] in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

[Mat 11:16 NKJV] (16) "But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions,

[Mat 12:41-42 NKJV] (41) "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah [is] here. (42) "The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon [is] here.

[Mat 23:36 NKJV] (36) "Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

[Mat 24:34 NKJV] (34) "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

[Mar 8:12 NKJV] (12) But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation."

[Mar 13:30 NKJV] (30) "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

[Luk 7:31 NKJV] (31) And the Lord said, "To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like?

[Luk 11:30-32, 50-51 NKJV] (30) "For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. (31) "The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon [is] here. (32) "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah [is] here. ... (50) "that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, (51) "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.

[Luk 17:25 NKJV] (25) "But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

[Luk 21:32 NKJV] (32) "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.

[Mat 12:45 NKJV] (45) "Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last [state] of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation."

[Mar 8:38 NKJV] (38) "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

[Luk 11:29 NKJV] (29) And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, "This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.

[Luk 16:8 NKJV] (8) "So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.

[Act 2:40 NKJV] (40) And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."

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  • So... is it your position that the sign of Jonah to Ninevah in Luke 11 is different than the sign of Jonah in Matthew 12? One being a prophecy. The other being a resurrection by fish? – Austin Sep 8 at 6:04
  • To be clear I did not assume the warning of the destruction of a city is rather foreign to the Messiah's mission. It is just interesting that the sign of Jonah and the sign that Jonah became could be referring to two completely different signs and be compared to two different aspects of Jesus's ministry. – Austin Sep 8 at 6:09

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