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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.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

1:17 prepared. The Lord “prepared” a fish, a gourd, a worm, and a wind (Jonah 1:17; 4:6,7,8), in accomplishing His will and proclaiming His Word through Jonah.

1:17 great fish. This “great fish” was not necessarily a whale, although there are some whales with the ability to swallow a man whole. It could have been, for example, a large whale-shark, or possibly some now-extinct marine reptile (the word translated “whale” in Matthew 12:40 could better be rendered “sea-monster”). It may even have been—for all we know to the contrary—a special marine animal created by God just for this purpose. The whole event is recorded as a miracle, and was so quoted by Christ (Matthew 12:39-40), so it is a mistake to attempt to explain it as a purely natural phenomenon. There have been unconfirmed reports of men in recent times who have been swallowed by whales or whale-sharks—even some who survived such an experience—but these, even if authentic, are irrelevant. Jonah’s experience was clearly, and altogether, a miracle.

1:17 three days and three nights. The Lord Jesus confirmed the historicity of both Jonah and his experience in the “whale” by citing it as a type of His own coming death, burial and resurrection (Matthew 12:39-40). In fact, these words of Christ probably indicate that Jonah, like Jesus, actually died and was then restored from death.

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