Jonah 2:5 New International Version

The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.

Here, was Jonah talking about inside the fish or outside?

2 Answers 2


enter image description here

There is no explicit indication of this in the original Hebrew, but probably outside, since מַ֙יִם֙ (ma-yim) is plural as it is in other verses referring to the ocean, like Gen 6:17:

enter image description here

Another indication is the seaweed, since whales don't eat seaweed, but krill (but then again they don't eat people either and water deep enough for a whale typically doesn't have seaweed growing to the water level)

  • Is there any reason to believe that it was a whale that swallowed Jonah?
    – Kris
    May 6, 2021 at 17:27
  • Whales are mammals but in Ancient Hebrew they are classified as fish. The only actual fish candidates large enough would be the erroneously named whale shark and possibly a basking shark. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_fish
    – Codosaur
    May 7, 2021 at 8:09
  • And biologically speaking, there is no reason they would eat humans, they are filter or plankton feeders.
    – Codosaur
    May 7, 2021 at 8:15

Thanks for the question. Strange finds upon digging around. I do think that Jonah 2:5 is taking place inside the fish - the female one. Preliminary items:

  1. The interesting thing about Jonah is that he is first deposited into a male [righteous?] fish (d-g in v. 1:17).

  2. Then Jonah finds himself in the 'bowels/womb'/belly-of-Sheol of a female fish (d-g-h, v. 2:1).

The verse quoted by OP...may be the 'hair/suph of the fetus' in the amniotic sac? Jonah 2:5 - "The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head."

Jonah 2:7 - Translated as..."with her bars about me". 'Bars' is the word 'barich', which has the meaning of 'crooked', twisted, fleeing, name of a constellation (Draco, etc.). Job 26:13 has "nachash bar(i)ich".

  1. Then in Jonah 2:10, Yahweh tells the male fish "l-dg" to spew-out/vomit Jonah onto dry ground. It seems unlikely that this is the original male fish. More likely he's the 'other half' of the female fish who rules in her (Genesis).


The original meaning of the name is unclear but may have referred to a patron goddess. The cuneiform for Ninâ (𒀏) is a fish within a house (cf. Aramaic nuna, "fish"). ... The city was later said to be devoted to "the goddess Ishtar of Nineveh" and Nina was one of the Sumerian and Assyrian names of that goddess.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.