Is a Whale a Fish?

A lot of Christians struggle with knowing that the Bible is 100% accurate. Although we believe that the Bible is true, we sometimes see things that don’t seem to agree with our perspective. One simple example is Jonah and the whale.

The Bible refers to Jonah’s animal as both a whale and a fish at different times. In Jonah 1:17, the Bible says, “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” In Matthew 12:40, however, it says, “For 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.”

We often assume that Jonah spent time in a whale’s belly. Yet the Bible refers to this whale as a fish, too. Many of us have learned in school that a whale is not a fish. A whale is a mammal. Is this a contradiction?

The simple answer is that the Bible is 100% accurate. Yes, a whale is a fish. Long before the Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus, worked to give us our modern system of animal classification in the 1700s, the word fish referred to any animal that lived only in water. Thus, a jellyfish was a fish. A whale was also a fish.

Once again, the Bible was, and is, accurate. Jonah was in a whale’s belly. This whale was a big fish.

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