Mysteries of the Bible

"Unanswered Questions of the Bible"

Surviving in the Belly of a Whale

Posted by foryourfaith on August 18, 2011


Could Jonah have survived three days and three nights in the belly of a “great fish?” This mystery has puzzled generations of Bible readers.

It has long been thought that the “great fish” that swallowed Jonah was not in fact a fish, but a sperm whale. Sperm whales swallow their prey whole and have throats large enough to accommodate the body of a man. In fact, captured sperm whales have been found to contain the remains of giant squid (a staple of their diet) larger than the body of a human being. But surviving in the belly of the beast is truly miraculous.

The main stomach of a sperm whale contains glands that release acids and enzymes to aid in digestion. In addition, it also contains a crop of hard shells and bones with which to crush the swallowed food. Despite the overwhelming odds against surviving such conditions, it has been reported that in 1891 a sailor, whose whaling ship had been capsized the previous day by a sperm whale, was found alive in the stomach of the whale when the ship’s crew found and captured their prey. Apparently, the only injury the man sustained was a permanent whitening of his skin from the whale’s gastric juices.

Jonah is not known to have suffered any ill effects from his three days and nights within the belly. Rather the “great fish” was the object through which God’s purpose was fulfilled. Upon his release from the whale, Jonah went on to preach Yahweh’s message at Nineveh.


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