The Bible Doesn’t Call it a Whale

This is what happens when people who don’t read the Bible talk about or write about the Bible-

Earliest mosaic of Jonah and the whale found in Galilee synagogue


Unprecedented depictions of the biblical Jonah and the whale have been found at a fifth-century Roman synagogue in Israel’s lower Galilee. In the recently discovered mosaic, Jonah’s legs are shown dangling from the mouth of a large fish, which is being swallowed by a larger fish, which is being consumed by a third, even larger fish.

Here, let me give you a hand with the biblical text:

‎וימן יהוה דג גדול לבלע את־יונה ויהי יונה במעי הדג שׁלשׁה ימים ושׁלשׁה לילות׃

The relevant phrase is

דג גדול

‘Great fish’. That’s it. Not ‘whale’.

Might it have been a whale? Who knows. But calling it a whale is a misrepresentation of the biblical text. And that’s just not going to happen as long as I have breath.  Accordingly, here’s your well deserved Dilly-

2 thoughts on “The Bible Doesn’t Call it a Whale

  1. Lisbeth S. Fried

    According to Hermon Melville in Moby Dick, whales were just another kind of fish, so calling it a fish doesn’t preclude it being a whale. It was only with Linnaeus who insisted it was a mammal that views changed.

    (I’m reading Moby Dick now.)


    1. Jim Post author

      no issue with any of that except the bible says ‘big fish’. why translators and pundits and commentators and the general public have such a problem with saying what the text simply says is mystifying.


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