Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
prepared a great fish—not created specially for this purpose, but appointed in His providence, to which all creatures are subservient. The fish, through a mistranslation of Matthew 12:40, was formerly supposed to be a whale; there, as here, the original means "a great fish." The whale's neck is too narrow to receive a man. BOCHART thinks, the dog-fish, the stomach of which is so large that the body of a man in armor was once found in it [Hierozoicon, 2.5.12]. Others, the shark [JEBB]. The cavity in the whale's throat, large enough, according to CAPTAIN SCORESBY, to hold a ship's jolly boat full of men. A miracle in any view is needed, and we have no data to speculate further. A "sign" or miracle it is expressly called by our Lord in Matthew 12:39. Respiration in such a position could only be by miracle. The miraculous interposition was not without a sufficient reason; it was calculated to affect not only Jonah, but also Nineveh and Israel. The life of a prophet was often marked by experiences which made him, through sympathy, best suited for discharging the prophetical function to his hearers and his people. The infinite resources of God in mercy as well as judgment are prefigured in the devourer being transformed into Jonah's preserver. Jonah's condition under punishment, shut out from the outer world, was rendered as much as possible the emblem of death, a present type to Nineveh and Israel, of the death in sin, as his deliverance was of the spiritual resurrection on repentance; as also, a future type of Jesus' literal death for sin, and resurrection by the Spirit of God.
three days and three nights—probably, like the Antitype, Christ, Jonah was cast forth on the land on the third day (Matthew 12:40); the Hebrew counting the first and third parts of days as whole twenty-four hour days.
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