CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN NETWORK
Continuing the work of Jesus : Peacefully ~ Simply ~ Together
SWALLOWED BY A WHALE?
Is the story of Jonah being swallowed by a large sea creature actually true? Could a fully grown man be swallowed by a whale or large fish, and live to tell about the experience? How could a person survive such an ordeal? It’s too problematic to be believed! Over the years, biblical accounts have come under attack for one reason or another, yet no one has proven beyond reasonable doubt, that any biblical story has been the result of a carefully planned deception. Case by case, the Bible has vindicated itself against the best of charges. The prophet Isaiah tells of the Assyrian king Sargon in chapter twenty, verse one; the only such biblical reference to this royal figure. Because no secular record or ancient authority mentioned this king, critics and biblical scholars ridiculed the passage for centuries as being unreliable. Even though the Bible makes a very clear statement, it was rejected because there was no “secular” work to confirm it. That is until 1843 when a team of French archeologist under the direction of Paul Emile Botta discovered a huge palace at Khorsabad, outside of the ancient city of Ninevah. It contained massive foundations, replete with inscriptions, and one room contained over nineteen thousand clay tablets, detailing financial transactions and war campaigns. Whose palace did it belong to? You guessed it. Today we know more about Sargon than all other Assyrian kings, and once again, the Bible was right. So, was Jonah swallowed by a large sea creature? Well, there has been a story cirulating that a modern man really was swalled by a whale. It may have begun with “Explore the Book” by J. Sidlow Baxter. Here is the excerpt, fact or fiction.
“In February 1891, the whale-ship “Star of the East” was in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands, and the look-out sighted a large sperm whale three miles away. Two boats were lowered, and in a short time one of the harpooners was enabled to spear the fish. The second boat attacked the whale, but was upset by a lash of its tail, and the men thrown into the sea, one being drowned, and another, James Bartley, having disappeared, could not be found. The whale was killed, and in a few hours the great body was lying by the ship’s side, and the crew busy with axes and spades removing the blubber. They worked all day and part of the night.
Next day they attached some tackle to the stomach, which was hoisted on deck. the sailors were startled by spasmodic signs of life, and inside was found the missing sailor, doubled up and unconscious. He was laid on the deck and treated to a bath of sea-water which soon revived him; but his mind was not clear, and he was placed in the captain’s quarters, where he remained two weeks a raving lunatic. He was kindly and carefully treated by the captain, and by the officers of the ship, and gradually gained possession of his senses. At the end of the third week he had entirely recovered from the shock, and resumed his duties.
During his sojourn in the whale’s stomach, Bartley’s skin, where exposed to the action of the gastric juice underwent a striking change. His face, neck, and hands were bleached to a deadly whiteness, and took on the appearance of parchment. Bartley affirms that he would probably have lived inside his house of flesh until he starved, for he lost his senses through fright and not for lack of air. Barkley is also said to have explained that after being hurled into the sea, the waters foamed about him, evidently from the lashings of the whale’s tail. Then he was drawn along into darkness and found himself in a great place where the heat was intense. In the dark he felt around for an exit and found only slimy walls around him. Then the awful truth rushed into his mind, and he became unconscious till the sea-water bath revived him on the ship’s deck.”
“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.”