Did A Fish Really Swallow Jonah?

by Bryant Evans on February 3, 2010

The story of Jonah and the whale is beloved by children. It’s a fantastic adventure! But some adults are skeptical. It just seems too fantastic to think that a great fish (that’s the Bible’s phrase) could swallow a man, hang on to him for three days and nights and then vomit him up on dry land and the man walk away. Many reason that this is a myth or legend much like one of Aesop’s Fables. It’s fun to read and it teaches an important lesson, but it didn’t really happen.

Uh, yes it did.

Here are the key parts of the text:

And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)

“And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land” (Jonah 2:10)

Now the skeptic might argue that few fish are large enough to swallow a man whole. And we know that a man couldn’t live inside the intestinal tract of a fish for three days without extreme and probably fatal consequences from a lack of food, fresh water, air and from the effects of the fish’s digestive enzymes. Now if that is their argument, and it is, they would be right – almost all of the time.

The Bible says this fish was special. It was appointed to its duties by God. Second, this is obviously a miraculous event. The terrible storm, the sudden calming of the storm (Jonah 1:4; Jonah 1:15) and the appearance of the fish. This required God’s intervention in nature to bring all this about.

Now Christians ought to know this. But some Bible scholars vehemently disagree. These people who study the Bible and teach it often describe this as a fictitious story or myth. Shame on them.

Jesus and Jonah

Jesus, the Son of God, confirmed the story. Take a look at Jesus’ own words in Matthew 12:39-41; Matthew 16:4 and Luke 11:29-32.

So, if Jesus confirms it we should accept it, right? Not so fast. Even these words are often challenged by the “scholars.” Some argue that Jesus words are crafted from comments he made but were enhanced by the Christian community. In other words they reject Jesus words!

The implication is stunning. If we reject the words of Jesus on this point, which ones will we accept?

I’d like to hear your thoughts. Please leave your comments below.

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{ 4 comments }

Michael Wiggins February 4, 2010 at 1:44 pm

People who desire to live God-free, often dismiss any mention of the supernatural out of hand. God could have prepared the fish for just this purpose. God consistently preserved people from harm who would have died if the ordinary course of natural consequences were allowed. Examples: God causing the heat from a massive fire not to burn Shadrach. Meshach, and Abnego. Paul not dying after being bitten by a snake. Moses not being gray-headed in old age. If God can create an entire human body in less than a day (as amazing as the body is), can He not create a fish in which that human can live for three days?

Anne April 11, 2011 at 1:45 am

I believe in God in the first place. I believe on all what is written in the bible. If someone do not agree with me, so be it.

Anthony May 19, 2012 at 8:35 am

God chose Jonah because he would not got because of the evil that was happening by Nineveh. There has been some studies pointing to Nineveh worshiping a fish god named dagon, which makes perfect sense, because if Jonah wasn’t spit out a large fish then they probably would have killing him. It all makes sense.

Bryant Evans May 19, 2012 at 9:11 am

Yes, the Assyrians did worship Dagon as did many pagan cultures. He became a notable Semitic god.But I am not sure what the people of Nineveh knew about Jonah’s plight before he arrived there to preach. Thanks coming to the site. I hope you will come often and comment.

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