Summary: The Beached Whale

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Mat. 12:40 and Jonah 1

Grady Henley

June 2003

Jonah Saw Something Out There or The Beached Whale Incident

I. The Wisdom of the Lord on the Translators.

There is a word in Mat. 12:40 that supposedly the King James Translators mis-translated. According to Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary the word fish in Jonah 1:17 means: 1709. dag, dawg; or (fully) ` da’g (Neh. 13 : 16) dawg; from H1711; a fish (as prolific), or perh. rather from H1672 (as timid); but still better from H1672 (in the sense of squirming, i.e. moving by the vibratory action of the tail); a fish (often used collect.):--fish. Whereas the word translated whale in Mat 12:40 means: 2785. ketos, kay’-tos; prob. from the base of G5490; a huge fish (as gaping for prey):--whale. 5490. chasma, khas’-mah; from a form of an obsol. prim. chao (to "gape" or "yawn"); a "chasm" or vacancy (impassable interval):--gulf.

By simply referring to a Hebrew and Greek dictionary, it is plain to read that the King James translators really missed this one. Right? No, such is not correct. If we go a bit deeper, we find that the King James Translators were right on course when they rendered the Greek word ketos as whale. Why, then, accuse the King James Translators of making such a blunder? The answer is someone did not believe God had a hand in overseeing the preservation of His words back about 1611.

The emphasis of the context of Mat. 12:38-45 is the scribes and Pharisee coming to Jesus and asking a sign from Him so that He could prove to them whom He was. Note that they already did not believe Him to be the Messiah. How many signs had He already given to them? What would a miracle do for the unbelieving? Nothing! No amount of proof will suffice nor convince someone who does not believe.

Jesus revealed three direct things to those two bands of unbelievers that day:

(1) I am the Messiah.

(2) Jonah was swallowed by a whale.

(3) The sign they sought was already recorded in scripture.

Jesus told the Jews, John 5:10, 39 to search the scriptures for they testified of Him. The message is plain. Someone does not want you to believe the scriptures. If you believe the scriptures, you will believe what they say about Jesus. If that some one can not convince you to not believe all the scriptures, they will settle for you doubting some of what the scriptures professes, Luke 24:25.

To the man that believes, God will reveal deeper things; things that must be prayed about and studied over before the truth settles the questions in the heart and mind of the believer. To those that do not believe the scriptures, one day their thoughts of death will become reality and what they thought was an error in scripture will be eternal reality.

Therefore, Mat. 12:40 is best left as it stands in the King James Version.

There are valid reasons why the translators translated the Greek word ketos as whale, none of which that I am aware was recorded by the translators. After all, who has the right to ask God, "What doest thou, Dan 4:35. Such is reason enough to accept what they translated. Regardless, I do have reasons for believing the truth of the translation. Reasons such as:

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