Jonah and the Whale

Cultural Dictionary

Jonah and the whale definition


A story in the Old Testament; Jonah was an Israelite whom God had called to be a prophet but who refused to accept his divine mission and left on a sea voyage instead. God then raised a great storm as a sign of his anger with Jonah. The sailors, realizing that Jonah's disobedience had caused the storm, threw him overboard in an attempt to save their ship. Jonah was saved from drowning when he was swallowed by a “great fish.” He lived for three days inside the creature, after which the fish “vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.” Thankful that his life had been spared, Jonah took up his prophetic mission.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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