IF IT WAS ACTUALLY A WHALE that swallowed Jonah on his voyage to Tarshish, it couldn't have been the kind of right whale you find in those waters because their gullets aren't big enough. Maybe it was a sperm whale, because they can handle something the size of a prophet without batting an eye. Or maybe, since the Hebrew word means only "great fish," it wasn't a whale at all, but a people-eating shark, some of whom attain lengths as great as thirty feet. But whatever it was, this much is certain.

No matter how deep it dove and no matter how dark the inside of its belly, no depth or darkness was enough to drown out the sound of Jonah's prayer. "I am cast out from thy presence. How shall I again look upon thy holy temple?" (Jonah 2:4), the intractable and waterlogged old man called out from sixty fathoms, and Yahweh heard him, and answered him, and Jonah's relief at being delivered from the whale can hardly have been any greater than the whale's at being delivered of Jonah.

Jonah 1:17-2:10

-Originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words

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