Did Jonah Died in the Fish's Belly?

Jonah  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
"Did Jonah die in the fish's belly? I have heard it said that he did, and that his death was necessary to to complete the type of death and resurrection."
ANSWER: Our answer to your question is an unequivocal, No. There is not the least shred of evidence to support such an idea. In fact, one would have to add to the words of Scripture to make it appear so. Jonah was thrown overboard to be swallowed by a great fish that the Lord had at hand for that purpose. Later, at the Lord's command, the fish vomited Jonah onto the dry land. Where does it say one word about either his dying or his coming to life again? And when the Lord refers to it in Matthew 12:4040For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40), He only mentions the fact of the prophet's being there as the type of His own death and resurrection.
We also read of Jonah's exercise of soul while in the fish, and it is not the exercise of one who has died. He describes his own folly and offers to pay his vows (which one who has passed out of this life could not do), and finally comes to realize that he can do nothing where he is, and says, "Salvation is of the LORD "
If it be argued that he refers to being in the belly of hell, or sheol, where is the difficulty there? He most certainly was in the place of death—down to the bottoms of the mountains with the weeds wrapped about his head. Would we not feel the same way if we were in the same place? The Hebrew word "sheol" is translated in various ways—sometimes, "pit."
And as for Jonah's death and resurrection being necessary to complete the type of death and resurrection, that is folly. We have many Old Testament types of death and resurrection, without death, or without resurrection, being a fact. Let us notice some.
Abel is a type of the righteous One who was slain, and Seth a type of Christ in resurrection as the head of a race. But Abel did not rise nor did Seth die to rise, to complete the type.
Isaac on the altar was certainly a type of the Lord Jesus in death, and his coming from the altar was a type of resurrection. But Isaac did not die, although surely Abraham received him from death "in a figure" (Heb. 11:1919Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. (Hebrews 11:19)).
The two birds of Lev. 14 also typify the Lord's death and resurrection, but the slain bird was not brought to life again, nor the living one killed and revived before being let go.
Joash (2 Kings 11), taken from among the king's sons that were slain, is also a type of Christ in death. Joash then was hidden six years while a usurper reigned, and then came forth to reign. This is a beautiful type of Christ now hidden in the "house of God," soon to come forth to reign. But again, Joash did not die and rise again.
We take this opportunity to warn our inquirer and all our readers against many fanciful interpretations of Scripture that are being circulated in Christendom—and by some leading Christian preachers. These strange things do not minister Christ to the heart, nor His Word to the conscience. Their tendency is to tickle itching ears of hearers, and occupy the intellect—and this is not profitable. They also tend to draw disciples after men (Acts 20).
We do not feel that even answering such curious interpretations is profitable. Our only reason for using space to answer this question is to point out the danger of the growing list of fanciful interpretations and their danger to our souls. We do well to take heed what we hear.
Many of the oddities and vagaries of Biblical interpretations are the result of carrying the types and shadows too far. If we insist on making the types "go on all fours" we will get into difficulties and absurdities—some have gotten into serious error by this means. What we need is the quiet spirit, the unshod foot of reverence, and the subject mind, to understand these things aright.