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Was Jonah Dead or Alive?

I’ve become aware that there are several if not many great bible scholars who say that Jonah was dead in the belly of the great fish.  This is an interesting thought that I wanted to comment on.

In short, I take the stance that Jonah was in fact alive in the belly of the fish. 

In reading this short book of the Bible, one verse just jumped out at me regarding the thought of if he was dead or alive.  Jonah 2:1 says:

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.  

Jonah 1:17, 2:1

These simple verses sum it up for me… it’s almost too simple in its presentation.  The fish swallowed Jonah by God’s design to end chapter one, then he prays to God through chapter two.  Does one not have to be alive to pray?

I believe that some folks read chapter two and based on its contents and apparent and subtle meaning, they believe that Jonah actually died and went to Sheol, and was resurrected as the fish vomited Jonah onto dry land.  I can understand that thought, and even I, with my love for sub-layer and original language meaning, think in this case the obvious understanding of this information is the first shallow layer, with the plain text providing the intended meaning. Simply put, it’s a metaphor.

I will say this… what does jump out at me beyond the obvious is that this book, particularly chapter two, is a foreshadow of what the Messiah Jesus Christ would do for us on the cross.  Jonah’s prayer is not unlike Isaiah’s prophecies about the suffering Messiah, and similar descriptors in the Psalms.  I would have to say that this is probably the true “take away” message from this little book… a foreshadow of how Christ felt in his great work of providing salvation for mankind (…whomsoever shall believe will not perish…).

Was Jonah dead or alive?  Very much alive, with a message for those who followed to watch for a sorrowful Messiah.