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lecture Seventy-sixth

In yesterday’s lecture we began to explain the last verse of the first chapter, in which Jonah said, that a fish was prepared by the Lord We stated that it could not have been otherwise but that Jonah, when he was in the inside of the fish, must have felt the most grievous agonies, as though he had been doomed to perpetual death, as long as he was deprived of the enjoyment of God’s favor: and this fact will be further explained when his song comes under our consideration.

But now there is a question to be considered and that is whether God created a fish to receive Jonah. The expression, that God prepared a fish 3434     The verb מנה does not necessarily include the idea of creation, but its meaning is, to distribute, to arrange, to order, to provide, to prepare; and yet this preparation may involve the exercise of a creative power, as in the case of the gourd mentioned in the fourth chapter, for it is the same verb. Though it might be an indigenous plant, yet to provide it so quickly in one night was the act of Divine power. So also as to this fish, it might or it might not have been one usually found in that part of the sea. To provide it, but bringing it to the spot, was as much a miracle as to provide it by a new act of creation. To allow the one and to deny the other, is wholly unreasonable. The whole was clearly miraculous: and the discovery of any such fish now does not in the least render the transaction less miraculous. Every part of it must be ascribed to a Divine interposition; and let those stumble who are resolved to stumble. It has been supposed to have been the “whale,” because the word κητος is used in the reference made to Jonah in Matthew 12:40: but that word is a general term applied to a large fish, and does not necessarily mean the whale. κητος, says Ribera, in his comment on Jonah, non certae speciei, sed generis nomen est, et piscem quemvis magnum significat. — Ed. seems indeed to mean this; for if the fish had already been swimming in the sea, the Prophet might have adopted another mode of speaking and said, that the Lord caused the fish to meet him or that God had sent a fish; for so the Scripture usually speaks: but a fish is said to have been prepared. This doubt may be thus removed, — that though God may not have created the fish, he had yet prepared him for this purpose; for we know that it was not according to the course of nature that the fish swallowed Jonah, and also, that he was preserved uninjured in his inside for three days and three nights. I therefore refer what is said here, that a fish was prepared, to the preservation of Jonah: for it is certain that there are some fishes which can swallow men whole and entire. And William Rondelet, who has written a book on the fishes of the sea, concludes that in all probability it must have been the Lamia. He himself saw that fish, and he says that it has a belly so capacious and, mouth so wide, that it can easily swallow up a man; and he says that a man in armor has sometimes been found in the inside of the Lamia. Therefore, as I have said, either a whale, or a Lamia, or a fish unknown to us, may be able to swallow up a man whole and entire; but he who is thus devoured cannot live in the inside of a fish. Hence Jonah, that he might mark it out as a miracle, says that the fish was prepared by the Lord; for he was received into the inside of the fish as though it were into an hospital; and though he had no rest there, yet he was as safe as to his body, as though he were walking on land. Since then the Lord, contrary to the order of nature, preserved there his Prophet, it is no wonder that he says that the fish was prepared by the Lord. I come now to the second chapter.

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