JONAH: WANTED, DEAD or ALIVE! . . . NO SIGN shall be given it [to an evil and Jewish adulterous generation], but the SIGN of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the WHALES BELLY; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the HEART of the earth. --Matt. 12:39, 40 A preacher was asked by a liberal college professor whether he thought that Jonah was actually swallowed by the whale. The preacher responded, “Well, when I get to heaven, I will ask Jonah.” The unbelieving professor responded, “What if Jonah is not in heaven?” The preacher retorted, “In that case, you ask him.” (For all you skeptics, there have been actual cases of other human beings swallowed by whales that lived.) To the question whether Jonah was dead or alive in the whale (Jonah 1:17-2:9) many Christians derive their answer from a suggested over-exaggeration of typology in Matthew 12:40, taking all of the now known but unmentioned details of Jesus’ death and resurrection experience and applying them to Jonah. The fact that Jesus died and was resurrected means to them that Jonah must have died and then finally resurrected. Therefore, a closer look at Matthew 12:40 must be taken, regarding the differences between Jesus’ and Jonah’s account to show these stretches and exaggerations. If a TYPE, Jonah being DEAD in the whale, 3days/nights, does not answer Jesus being ALIVE in the heart of the earth. One would think the parallel should be Jonah in the heart of the earth rather than in the whale or Jesus in the sepulcher and not the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40 should be interpreted as a SIGN to the Jews, rather than an exact TYPE, for Jesus did call it a SIGN and for the following differences: 1. Jesus and Jonah are different people, one is the God/man and the other is a Calvinist. 2. Jesus and Jonah were located in different places, Jesus was in the heart of the earth; Jonah was in the whale’s belly for the 3days/nights. 3. Jesus and Jonah were in these different places for different reasons. Christ was there because of obedience; Jonah was there because of disobedience. 4. Neither the death of Jesus nor Jonah is mentioned, nor the resurrection of Jesus nor is Jonah mentioned in Matthew 12:40 or Jonah 2. 5. Nothing is the same in the 2 accounts except the time element of 3 days and 3 nights. 6. No one is resurrected until Jesus and the first-fruits are resurrected (after the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ - Matt. 27:52, 53). 7. Jonah agrees with Christ as to the location from which he cried out to God. 8. Can prayers from hell be prayed, heard, and answered? From out of the Whale’s Belly? The Narrative--What God Said Now the LORD prepared a GREAT FISH to swallow up Jonah [Jonah the person, not his dead body]. And Jonah [the person, not his dead body] was in the belly of the fish [neither hell nor sheol] for three days and three nights. THEN JONAH PRAYED unto the LORD his God OUT of the fish’s BELLY [neither hell nor sheol]. -- Jonah 1:17 to 2:1 Some would point out that a whale is not a fish, per our modern biological phyla, contradicting the KJB rendering of the word that Jesus used (whose underlying word is KETOS, from where we get Ketology or the study of whales rather than ICTHUS or fish). Nevertheless, here, God is said to prepare for Jonah a GREAT FISH and not a place in the underworld.) From the entrance of Jonah into the GREAT fish until Jonah’s exit thereof, there were 3 days/nights. Jonah was therefore alive from his entrance to his exit. God said it was Jonah the person, not Jonah the body. Even Jesus’ body is referred to as the “body of Jesus” (everywhere except one place, which has it in the context of the “body of Jesus”). Jonah prays this 2nd prayer from inside the whale, recounting his experiences and FIRST prayer in the DEEP. It is interesting that during Jonah’s time in the great fish’s belly that Jonah PRAYED from there. Now, Jonah had to use some of that time to pray (while ALIVE inside the whale), if Jonah was in the fish 3 days and three nights. It would be a bit unusual for a dead body to pray. Comparatively, Jesus’ body was not alive in the sepulcher and did not pray from there. Now, it also would be very inconsistent to say that Jonah was alive, part of the time, and dead, part of the time, completely destroying one’s own already stretched typology of three days and three nights. The Narrative - What Jonah Said About His Experience And said, I CRIED by reason of my affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the BELLY OF HELL cried I, and thou HEARDEST my voice. FOR thou hast cast me in the DEEP, in the midst of the SEAS; and the FLOODS COMPASSED ME about: all the BILLOWS and thy WAVES passed over me. -- Jonah 2:2, 3 HELL from BENEATH is moved for thee to MEET THEE at thy COMING: it stirreth up the DEAD for thee . . . Thy pomp is brought DOWN to the GRAVE . . . -- Isa. 14:9-11 . . . my SOUL is full of troubles: and my LIFE draweth NIGH unto the GRAVE. I am counted with them that GO DOWN INTO the PIT: I am AS a man that hath no strength: Free AMONG the DEAD, LIKE the SLAIN that lie IN THE GRAVE . . . Thou hast laid me in the LOWEST PIT, in darkness, in the DEEPS. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast AFFLICTED me with all thy WAVES. -- Psalm 88:3-7 When the WAVES of death COMPASSED me, the FLOODS of ungodly men made me afraid; the SORROWS OF HELL COMPASSED ME about; the snares of DEATH prevented [old word for anticipated] me; In my DISTRESS I called upon the LORD; and CRIED to my God: and he DID HEAR my voice OUT OF HIS TEMPLE [see Jonah 2:4] and my cry did enter his ears. -- 2 Sam 22::6 [See also Psalm 18:4, 5 for the same record] Jonah recounts his experiences and first prayer from the DEEP in the framework of his second prayer from the whale’s belly. He recounts his former affliction and subsequent cry to the Lord, who heard him. This cry was not from the whale’s belly but from the “belly of hell,” which is explained throughout this article, including the above passages. Some would tell us that this term refers to the gastric juice of the whale. Others would tell us that Jonah was in a burning hell. Yet, others would tell us that he was in the paradise underworld. Nevertheless, Jonah was IN the WATER, in the midst of the SEA, in the DEEP. Rather than arbitrarily assume (from one’s forced point of view) what the “belly of hell” means, why not allow Jonah to describe what he meant by the term? The narrative is merely recording Jonah’s words and Jonah’s perceptions (2:2 - 9), as Jonah realizes that he is at death’s door, ready to perish in a watery grave. The “belly of hell” is anticipated and referred to, as Jonah anticipates DEATH and the unseen world. Many elements of Jonah 2 match David’s words in the Psalms and Samuel; one would think that Jonah was reading David’s mail or that he was likening his experience with that of David. We seriously doubt, whether the SORROWS OF HELL were due to a visit by David to Hell fire or even to the underworld paradise, for that matter.