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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Jonah’s Whale

J. Sidlow Baxter

In the "Daily Mail" of December 14, 1928, Mr. G. H. Henn, a resident of Birmingham, gave the following testimony:

"My own experience was in Birmingham (England) about 25 years ago, when the carcass of a whale was displayed for a week.

"I was one of twelve men who went into its mouth, passed through its throat, and moved about in what was equivalent to a fair-sized room. Its throat was large enough to serve as a door. Obviously it would be quite easy for a whale of this kind to swallow a man."

In the late Sir Francis Fox’s book, Sixty-three Years of Engineering, the manager of a whaling station informs us that the sperm whale swallows lumps of food eight feet in diameter, and that in one of these whales they actually found "the skeleton of a shark sixteen feet in length!"

There is an incident related by Fox which, he assures us, "was carefully investigated by two scientists, one of whom was M. De Parville, the scientific editor of the "Journal des Débats" of Paris, well-known as "a man of sound judgment, and a careful writer." The incident is as follows:

"In February, 1891, the whale-ship Star of the East was in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands, and the look-out sighted a large sperm whale three miles away. Two boats were lowered, and in a short time one of the harpooners was enabled to spear the fish.

“The second boat attacked the whale, but was upset by a lash of its tail, and the men thrown into the sea, one being drowned, and another, James Bartley, having disappeared, could not be found. The whale was killed, and in a few hours the great body was lying by the ship’s side, and the crew busy with axes and spades removing the blubber. They worked all day and part of the night.

"Next day they attached some tackle to the stomach, which was hoisted on deck. The sailors were startled by spasmodic signs of life, and inside was found the missing sailor, doubled up and unconscious. He was laid on the deck and treated to a bath of sea-water which soon revived him; but his mind was not clear,and he was placed in the captain’s quarters, where he remained two weeks a raving lunatic.

“He was kindly and carefully treated by the captain and by the officers of the ship, and gradually gained possession of his senses. At the end of the third week he had entirely recovered from the shock, and resumed his duties.

"During his sojourn in the whale’s stomach Bartley’s skin, where exposed to the action of the gastric juice, underwent a striking change. His face, neck and hands were bleached to a deadly whiteness, and took on the appearance of parchment. Bartley affirms that he would probably have lived inside his house of flesh until he starved, for he lost his senses through fright and not for lack of air."

Bartley is also said to have explained that after being hurled into the sea, the waters foamed about him, evidently from the lashings of the whale’s tail. Then he was drawn along into darkness and found himself in a great place where the heat was intense.

In the dark he felt around for an exit and found only slimy walls around him. Then the awful truth rushed into his mind, and he became unconscious till the sea-water bath revived him on the ship’s deck.

And where now are the critics who have declared the swallowing of Jonah to be an impossible feat?