The Mystical Significance of the Fish in Jonah


The story of Jonah and the fish is a story of Israel’s exile and return to the Holy Land.

Here’s how it goes:

  1. Jonah disobeys God.
  2. Jonah leaves the “land” and goes to “sea.”
  3. Jonah appears to lost in exile at “sea”.
  4. But Jonah doesn’t perish and disappear into the “sea”.
  5. Jonah seems to die (Jon 2:5-7).
  6. Yet Jonah is miraculously preserved in a fish (3 days in the belly of whale).
  7. The Jonah revives and comes back to the “land.”
  8. Once back on “land” Jonah proclaims the God of Israel to the Gentiles.

Jesus taught that He is the “greater-than-Jonah” (Mt 12:41). How does it all work?

  1. Israel turned from God toward idolatry and was taken into captivity by Assyria (the Gentiles to which Jonah preached).
  2. Israel left the promised “land” and is scattered into the “sea” of the Gentiles.
  3. Israel appears to lost in exile among the “sea” of Gentiles.
  4. But Israel doesn’t perish and disappear into the “sea.”
  5. Jesus comes from the north of the Holy Land and dies.
  6. Yet Jesus is miraculously preserved in His tomb (3 days in the belly of the earth).
  7. Jesus revives and comes back to the “land.”
  8. Once back on “land” Jesus proclaims the God of Israel to the Gentiles through His body the Church.

Here we see that the story of Jonah is actually the story of Israel and a type of Jesus who was “greater-than-Jonah” (Mt 12:41).

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