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The Book of Jonah
Information on Whales

Is the story of Jonah true? Or is it fairy tale? Is it really possible for a man to survive in the belly of a whale or a large fish?

So many people scoff at the Bible Book of Jonah. Skeptics say it is a fable, saying it is "impossible". One argument is that the belly of a whale is far too small to hold a man . . . so, the Bible cannot be trusted. I completely disagree with this! The BIBLE is God's Words, inspired by God Himself and it certainly CAN be trusted!

Consider the following information IF you are a skeptic! The Biblical account of Jonah is a miraculous one. Miracles DO happen! We must trust God and the Bible first and foremost, even if there is NO other evidence supporting it exists. GOD is ALWAYS right!

Was Jonah swallowed by a whale or by a fish?

The following excerpts were taken from: . . . http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/jonah.html

Some people claim that there is a contradiction in the Bible because the Old Testament calls the creature that swallowed Jonah a "Great fish", while the New Testament calls it a "whale". This is not a contradiction.

Matthew 12:40 says that the creature is a whale, but the original Greek from which it was translated calls it a "sea monster". The alleged contradiction is nothing more than a different word chosen for the English translation.

So which is it, a whale or a fish?
Nothing in the biblical account demands that the creature be a whale. It could be an extinct marine reptile or any one of the thousands of species of marine life that has gone extinct in the last few thousand years. It may have even been a fish..
You may think to yourself: "but fish don't get that big". If you believe that, you should visit more museums. - I recall staring in amazement at the Ann Arbor Museum of Natural History as I stood next to a fossil skull of a fish named dunkleosteus.

Dunkleosteus . . . This skull was about three and a half feet tall. Its body length would be incredible. This huge fish would be a fright to anyone who saw it. It's mouth hung open and it was more than big enough to swallow me.
The image of the skull above is from a Cleveland museum specimen. This is smaller than the one in Ann Arbor.
The largest Dunkleosteus skull is about four feet high.

I am not saying that this was for sure the fish that swallowed Jonah. I am merely saying that fish like this did exist.

Comment from a reader:
"All evidence for Dunkleosteus is that it lived during the Devonian period, which would then make humans over 300 million years old (if, as you claim they lived with this fish)."
Dan Erickson, exhibit preparator, University of Michigan

My response:
I believe that God created the whole world only a few thousand years ago. I believe that the dating methods are flawed (see my page on Carbon dating). Dunkleosteus, I believe lived in this same time frame, but went extinct shortly after the flood. - I believe man lived with every creature we find fossilized.

I will add background information on dunkleosteus soon. Including when and where it was discovered, and by who.

Though it is often labeled as a "pre-historic" fish, in all honesty there is not much we know about this creature. Including how long ago it died. But from a biblical standpoint we can be assured this creature did live with man (the book of Genesis says that all animals were created to live with man).
The historical accuracy of Jonah is important for it foreshadows Christ’s own death and resurrection. Christ would not associate the most important event in history (his being raised from the dead) with a mere fairy tale.
The whale is not the hero of the story, nor is the cross victorious over the power of Christ. Our attention should be drawn to what happened next, the bodily resurrection from death to life. The book of Jonah is about God and Jonah, not the whale (or fish) and Jonah.
Those who scoff at, doubt or otherwise ridicule the book of Jonah are in actuality doubting Christ's own integrity. Jesus believed and taught that Jonah was a real person, and that the events described in the Bible really did happen to him.
I believe the account of Jonah as literal history, but more importantly Christ believed it.
The story is not a parable or a dream but rather an accurate depiction of a real encounter. If you doubt the book of Jonah, or any of the Bible you will not be able to defend your faith with authority.
Christ read with authority not as the scribes.
In the Book of Jonah, God shows his mercy and also his authority as Creator over all living creatures. The Bible tells us that "God prepared the fish" and "the Lord spoke unto the fish..." and the animal obeyed God. In the end, even though Jonah disobeyed his commands, God spared Jonah's life. And in the beautiful language of the "King James Bible" the whale "vomited out Jonah upon the dry land"
For those seeking extra-biblical evidence, there are many well documented accounts of men and animals being swallowed alive by whales. Though these accounts do give the story of Jonah more credibility we must remember to trust the Bible first and foremost.
It does not matter if other recorded accounts exist or not. They are irrelevant as the Bible says it happened and Jesus has shown us that we can trust God's word.
Jonah is also mentioned in Luke 11:30.
"As the crowds increased, Jesus said, "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. (30)For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. (31)The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one [9] greater than Solomon is here. (32)The 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 one greater than Jonah is here." Luke 11:30-32

How big do these whales get? In 1933 a sulfur bottom whale was caught off the coast of cape cod it was 100 ft long and had a mouth over 10 foot wide. A man who was unfortunate enough to be swallowed could take refuge in any one of the whales stomach chambers, or the large cranial cavities (extensions of the nasal sinus) which measure 7 feet high, 7ft wide and 14 ft long. More than big enough for a man to hide safely inside.
God had told Jonah to go to Ninevah to warn the people of the coming destruction. But instead Jonah turned and headed the other way.
The book of Jonah shows us how badly God wants for people to hear and accept his message of salvation.
Present day Jonah's?
Question from a reader:
"I've heard that there is documentated information of people surviving being swallowed by whales....but I can't find any. Can you maybe point me in the right direction? Thank you for your time."
Mike 1/22/02
Answer: There is a book out by J. Vernon McGee that alleges to tell of other accounts of modern day people being swallowed by whales. The problem is that none of them can be verified, and some of them have been refuted.
I dont think there need to be other examples of this happening in the past in order for the account of Jonah to be true, anymore than there need to be other flood accounts, or resurrection accounts.
The Bible tells us of Jesus, and he was the only one resurrected after 3 days. The bible likens this to the story of Jonah, so that may be good evidence against other "whale" stories.

From J. Vernon McGees Commentary

There are at least two known monsters of the deep who could easily have swallowed Jonah. They are the Balaenoptera Musculus or sulphur-bottom whale, and the Rhinodon Typicus or whale shark. Neither of these monsters of the deep have any teeth. They feed in an interesting way by opening their enormous mouths, submerging their lower jaw, and rushing through the water at terrific speed. After straining out the water, they swallow whatever is left. A sulphur-bottom whale, one hundred feet long, was captured off Cape Cod in 1933. His mouth was ten or twelve feet wide—so big he could easily have swallowed a horse. These whales have four to six compartments in their stomachs, in any one of which a colony of men could find free lodging. They might even have a choice of rooms, for in the head of this whale is a wonderful air storage chamber, an enlargement of the nasal sinus, often measuring seven feet high, seven feet wide, by fourteen feet long. If he has an unwelcome guest on board who gives him a headache, the whale swims to the nearest land and gets rid of the offender as he did Jonah.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently quoted an article by Dr. Ransome Harvey who said that a dog was lost overboard from a ship. It was found in the head of a whale six days later, alive and barking.
Frank Bullen, F.R.G.S., who wrote, “The Cruise of the Cathalot,” tells of a shark fifteen feet in length which was found in the stomach of a whale. He says that when dying the whale ejects the contents of its stomach.
The late Dr. Dixon stated that in a museum at Beirut, Lebanon, there is a head of a whale shark big enough to swallow the largest man that history records! He also tells of a white shark of the Mediterranean which swallowed a whole horse; another swallowed a reindeer minus only its horns. In still another Mediterranean white shark was found a whole sea cow, about the size of an ox.

These facts show that Jonah could have been swallowed by either a whale or a shark. But has any other man besides Jonah been swallowed and lived to tell the tale? We know of two such instances.
The famous French scientist, M. de Parville, writes of James Bartley, who in the region of the Falkland Islands near South America, was supposed to have been drowned at sea. Two days after his disappearance, the sailors made a catch of a whale. When it was cut up, much to their surprise they found their missing friend alive but unconscious inside the whale. He revived and has been enjoying the best of health ever since his adventure.
Dr. Harry Rimmer, President of the Research Science Bureau of Los Angeles, writes of another case. “In the Literary Digest we noticed an account of an English sailor who was swallowed by a gigantic Rhinodon in the English Channel. Briefly, the account stated that in the attempt to harpoon one of these monstrous sharks, this sailor fell overboard, and before he could be picked up again, the shark turned and engulfed him.

Forty-eight hours after the accident occurred, the fish was sighted and slain. When the shark was opened by the sailors, they were amazed to find the man unconscious but alive! He was rushed to the hospital where he was found to be suffering from shock alone, and a few hours later was discharged as being physically fit. The account concluded by saying that the man was on exhibit in a London Museum at a shilling admittance fee; being advertised as ‘The Jonah of the Twentieth Century.’ ”
In 1926 Dr. Rimmer met this man, and writes that his physical appearance was odd; his body was devoid of hair and patches of yellowish-brown color covered his entire skin.
If two men could exist for two days and nights inside of marine monsters, could not a prophet of God, under His direct care and protection, stand the experience a day and a night longer—so why should we doubt God’s Word?

This demonstrates the fact that a man could live in a fish, but it also takes away from the unusual character of Jonah’s experience; that is, if these men lived and Jonah lived—and I am told there are even other records of such experiences—then what you have in the Book of Jonah is a record of something that is not really a great miracle. You simply have a record of an unusual incident that took place. I personally believe that the greater miracle is the fact that God raised him from the dead.
Again, I remind you that the question before us is not whether God could make a man live for three days and three nights inside a fish; the question is: Did God do that? Is that what the record says?

Book of Jonah

Ch1 . Ch2 . Ch3 . Ch4 . Whales?

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