The Story of Jonah and the Whale

Jonah’s story is told in the book of Jonah, the 32nd book of the Old Testament.  A classic for children and adults alike due to the creativity of god in his smite tactic in this case.

Jonah is a prophet and god instructs him to travel to the city of Nineveh to call the people to repentance because he caught wind of their wickedness.


Apparently, Jonah had experienced some difficulties in the past when asked to call a large city to repentance because he flat out did not want to do it this time; so he wanders down to the dock and catches the first ferry to Tarshish hoping to elude the lord and get out of being the deliverer of unwelcome tidings.  


Why this prophet who by definition is a man that speaks to god, did not know that god had a fairly accurate, holy GPS on his ass and could find him wherever he went is a mystery to everyone.  Jonah’s attempt to evade omni-whateverness backfires and god, true to form is now placed in the all too common position of having to unleash some smite to keep his prophet in line. 


After a long history of prophet ass kicking, one would think that god in his all-knowingness would do a better job at screening candidates for prophet positions.  The Bible is chuck full of god’s screw-ups and this is just another one – he picks a prophet and the dude tries to run off on him rather than do what prophets do and confront a city about their sins.


Not one to be fooled, god causes the wind to blow and the waves to crash on the boat Jonah is in to the point that the sailors were afraid that it was going to sink.


Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.


Jonah is not only going prophetic AWOL but he is in the hull asleep while the storm god conjured up is raging outside and has all the sailors clamoring to whatever god they happen to pray to for help and throwing everything overboard to lighten the ship so it doesn’t sink.


And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.


Ok, there we have the holy answer to so many issues that we waste so much time investigating through logical methodology in order to arrive at a conclusion when the Bible tells us clearly that all we have to do is draw lots! What the hell are we thinking by following a logical sequence to arrive at the truth through deduction when it is just a matter of drawing straws?  I do not understand why mainstream Christianity frowns so harshly on divination when the Holy Bible is giving us a perfect example of when to use it and how accurately it works.  Jonah was the culprit and the lots or straws brought him to the light.

The other people on the boat begin to ask him who he is and where he is from and why he is the bringer of such evil and doom.  Jonah explains to the now unfriendly crowd that he is a Hebrew and he “fears the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land”.  Oh and by the way, I kind of blew the lord off when he told me to call the city of Nineveh to repentance and I got on this boat instead.


Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.


Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.


While Jonah was a lazy-ass prophet, he was still a fairly stand-up kinda guy, and knowing the impending shipwreck was his fault, he told the crew to throw him overboard and the sea would calm down.   The crew was very tempted but somewhat uncomfortable with homicide so they decided to try rowing back to shore instead of throwing Jonah into the sea.  As smite would have it, they didn’t get very far against the godly raging waters so they threw Jonah overboard and the sea stopped raging - just like that.


Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.


It seems that sacrificing Jonah to the sea would suffice, but we know how “sweet the savour” of burning animal carcass is to god when offered up to please him, so it was probably best that they did.  I can only imagine a bunch of sailors scared shitless making vows.  What exactly does one vow in a case like this? “Oh god, get me out of this one and I will never ferry a Hebrew again.”


Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.


Now we know that Jonah was either a primordial dwarf or full of shit, because there is no fish or mammal on earth that could or would swallow a man whole.  The original Hebrew text reads dag gadol, which literally means "great fish."  Somewhere around 1534 it evolved into ketos (Greek) and cetus (Latin) which became synonymous with whale and the modern day study of whales is now called cetology. This translation was incorporated into the 1611 version of the bible and since then it has been blindly accepted that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.


What the holy book fails miserably at clarifying for those with a brain is how exactly Jonah was able to breathe or survive for 3 days in the belly of a whale, or if he was in a stasis, how was he not consumed by the digestive enzymes in the stomach.  Lets assume somehow Jonah was able to survive being human sushi and actually lived for 3 days and nights in the belly of the big fish; what species of fish or whale was it?

The only whales with mouths large enough to swallow a human whole are the baleen type whales but they eat plankton and would choke on a salmon so it wasn’t one of them.  The sperm whale is a carnivore but has a small mouth and tears its prey into pieces so it wasn’t him.  Some scholars say it might have been a Great White shark but an adult human is too large to be swallowed whole, so it wasn’t him either.  Others say it may have been the whale shark which is about the only animal with a mouth big enough to swallow a man whole, but there is a minor snag to that theory as well – their throat is only 4 inches wide and while a man could fit in the mouth, swallowing a human is an impossibility. So, there doesn’t appear to be a fish or mammal known to science that is capable of carrying out this feat.  Then somehow, we have to wrap our tiny little brains around the fact that Jonah lived through the ordeal and quite lucidly at that.

In chapter 2 we read…


Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly,


And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.


Jonah not only resides in the belly of tyrannosaurus fish but he prays to god and repents of his antics and he goes on for 8 verses about how wretched he is and how great god is and how he needs the hell out of the fish and the sea weeds off his face and wah, wah, wah.


And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.


Sure, god is omni-whatever and can do anything and everything, and one could argue – again – that he just willed it and so it was.  However, in his omni-whateverness why didn’t he just bitch slap Jonah for being a wimp and swami some boils with blains on him or something?  What is up with the ridiculous fish tales and the omni-dramatics that just do not make sense?  It seems it would be easier to just make sense – especially since this whopper of a fish story is supposedly for our benefit somehow.


In Chapter 3, god tells Jonah to get his ass to Nineveh like he told him the first time and call the city to repentance.  This time Jonah, still smelling like a fish processing plant hauls his smelly prophetic self to the city and begins telling everyone that they have 40 days to shape up or else. 


So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.


For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.


Now the entire city is running around dressed in burlap and the king is soaking his royal hemorrhoids in ashes for reasons unknown and everyone stops eating and drinking to appease the very legendary wrath of god.


And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.


 This is a big deal and yet this verse gets very little publicity. In fact after the fish spits Jonah out, most wrap the story up with “and he lived happily ever after.”  But lets give credit where credit is due.  The almighty smiter has a grand excuse to unleash his smite but realizes how evil his way of destruction is and he repents – god REPENTS! Who says god cannot sin when his holy handbook says he did? The city was spared and god borrows a burlap bag and some ashes and goes to sit in them for a spell - or whatever.


In chapter 4, Jonah gets pissed off beyond reason with god.  He is apparently extremely disappointed that he did not get to see the brimstone pyrotechnic show raining down on the city.  After all, he went through so much trouble to finally be there to announce the forthcoming destruction.  So, Jonah says to god…


Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.


This is a textbook case of prophetic tantrum syndrome – very uncommon these days but a big problem for Jonah.  Still hoping for some fireworks and enraged with the way god cheated him out of the smite show,


 Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

You know, just in case god has a relapse, sticks to historical form, and decides not to repent after all.


Just to show Jonah that there are no hard feelings, god has a gourd plant grow up over his little lean-to grandstand to keep him shaded from the sun. This is a nice touch for a god with such a history of screwing with people.


But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.


Just when we thought god was going to disappoint us by being nice, he just can’t help himself – some believe he has an addictive personality, others figure he is just a jerk and most just worship him.  Whatever your view is on the matter, he killed the gourd bush that was shading Jonah. But that’s not all…


And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.


Again, the prophetic tantrum syndrome gets the better of Jonah and instead of just catching the next ferry to wherever and waiting for the next city to merit god’s smite, he goes into this drama of wanting to die.  Much to god’s embarrassment, this poorly selected prophet gets all caught up in his dying booth-plant and a mild case of heat stroke.

But god says to Jonah, what the hell are you so worried about a plant that you did nothing to make grow? Shouldn’t we both be more concerned about the one hundred twenty thousand plus people that do not know right from wrong in this city, as well as many animals? (Jonah 4:9-11)


And that was pretty much the end of Jonah’s career, however, this particular story is very important and transcendental in nature, just not in the ways it has been force-fed to us by those who think they are “in the know”.


Even though god just had to screw with Jonah and his technique is somewhat over the top in terms of dramatics and sensationalism, we can all be very proud of how well his heavenly anger management classes are doing for him.  As we have seen in past stories, god has a history of unleashing his anger problem on the innocent and in this case, he was able to maintain some divine composure and restraint.


We also see that god is obviously not “perfect”, as many believe.  Nobody disputes the fact that he is powerful, but powerful does not necessarily mean perfect. Perfect implies without fault or defect and yet in the holy word, in chapter 3 verse 10 it states very clearly that god had need of repenting of the evil he had planned to unleash on the innocent.  He even goes on to share his logic with the very disappointed Jonah in chapter 4 when he asks Jonah if he really thought it necessary to kill the 120 thousand plus people as well as animals that did not know any better.  God realizes and admits to the world that his habit of smiting people that do not know any better is evil and something that requires repentance.

Another glitch in omni-whateverness this holy story brings to light is the fact that is highlighted in just about every Bible story and that is god’s inability to judge character and screen candidates for prophet.  If god is all-knowing, then he knew Jonah would take the boat rather than go to Nineveh.  So why would he act all pissed at the fact, start the storm and scare the hell out of everyone on board the boat; or prepare the magical ichthyologic submarine for Jonah to cruise about in the belly of for 3 days?


While this and all the Bible stories are more along the lines of ridiculous and saddening rather than instructional or uplifting, we do have to admit that they are very revealing of the true nature of this Bible god.   What I just can not bring my puny little brain to wrap itself around is how this god or any of his agents of propaganda, marketing and indoctrination, came up with this stuff to supposedly make us better people, more worthy of his blessings or of eternal salvation.


At least we are able to put to rest the theory and false doctrine regarding god’s displeasure with divination and sorcery.  This story clearly teaches the use of divination through drawing straws as a divinely sanctioned method of discovery of truth and ascertaining guilt when evidence is non-existent.  I cant help but wonder why the courts have a witness swear to tell the truth by placing their right hand on the bible and yet they don’t save the time and expense of an unnecessary jury by just keeping a stack of straws at the judges desk to be drawn by any suspects.    



Anyway, that’s the story of Jonah and the whale.


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Power of Fear
Abraham & Isaac
The Creation
Adam & Eve
Evolution vs. Creation
Cain & Abel
Noah's Ark
The Tower of Babel
The Story of Moses
Moses Parts The Red Sea
Sodom & Gomorra
Jonah and The Whale
Samson & Delilah
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