Generations That Repented Long Ago

& LOY Commentary 15 Comments

Did Jesus condemn his contemporaries for failing to recognize him as the Messiah or for something more insidious?

Matt. 12:41-42; Luke 11:31-32

(Huck 87, 152; Aland 119, 191; Crook 141, 219)[1]

מַלְכַּת תֵּימָן תָּקוּם בַּדִּין עִם הַדּוֹר הַזֶּה וּתְחַיֵּב אוֹתוֹ שֶׁהִיא בָּאָה מִקְצֵה הָאָרֶץ לִשְׁמֹעַ אֵת חָכְמַת שְׁלֹמֹה וַהֲרֵי [יֵשׁ] גָּדוֹל מִשְּׁלֹמֹה כָּן אַנְשֵׁי נִינְוֵה יָקוּמוּ בַּדִּין עִם הַדּוֹר הַזֶּה וִיחַיְּבוּ אוֹתוֹ שֶׁהֵם עָשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה בִּקְרִיאַת יוֹנָה וַהֲרֵי [יֵשׁ] גָּדוֹל מִיּוֹנָה כָּן

“At the final judgment the Queen of Teman will arise to testify against this generation and prove that it has no excuse. She came from the world’s end to listen to King Shlomoh’s wisdom, but a wisdom more profound than Shlomoh’s is right here in front of you, and still you haven’t listened!

“At the final judgment the inhabitants of Nineveh will arise to testify against this generation and prove that it has no excuse. They repented when Yonah proclaimed his message of doom, but a more dire message is being proclaimed to you, and still you haven’t changed your ways![2]

Revised: 2 March 2022








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Generations That Repented Long Ago belongs to a cluster of sayings in which Jesus called his contemporaries to repentance, warning that many Gentiles would fare better in the final judgment than would the members of his own generation. In Woes on Three Villages Jesus cited Gentile cities that would have repented had they been given the opportunity granted to the towns where Jesus taught. In Generations That Repented Long Ago Jesus upped the ante by moving from hypotheticals to actual cases of Gentiles of the scriptural past who responded to the divine revelation in Solomon’s wisdom and Jonah’s prophetic activity.

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  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). Joshua continued his studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree in 2005. After seminary…
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