Was Jonah Swallowed by a Whale? (Old Testament)

The book of Jonah contains the familiar story of a prophet named Jonah who was preserved for three days and three nights in the belly of a large fish (1:17). Though skepticism has led many to allegorize this fish tale, there are good reasons to interpret it as an actual historical account. First, details and descriptions in the narrative defy allegorization. Hank Hanegraaff, the host of the 𝘉𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘈𝘯𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘔𝘢𝘯 broadcast and the 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘜𝘯𝘱𝘭𝘶𝘨𝘨𝘦𝘥 podcast, notes that the book of Jonah is written in the genre of historical narrative. The brief mention of the fish does not detour literarily from that genre, from the descriptions of Jonah’s journey to Joppa, his payment of the fare, his conversations with the sailors during the storm, and his eventual trip to Nineveh. Furthermore, the Christian worldview presupposes the miraculous. The universe itself is an effect that presupposes a cause equal to or greater than itself. When we hear a miraculous account of this magnitude, we would do well to seek a second opinion. In the case of Jonah, corroboration is provided by no less an authority than Jesus Christ. Our Lord not only referred to Jonah’s preservation for “three days and three nights in the belly of a fish” as a miracle, He used it as the basis for prophesying that He too would be preserved for “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). As such, Jonah’s marine rescue is a type of Jesus’ miraculous resurrection.


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