Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Fish. Hebrew dag: afterwards daga occurs, ver. 2; (Haydock) on which Leusden observes, the Jews infer that Jonas was first swallowed up by male and then by a female fish, which being full of young he was much straitened, and prayed from the belly of that (hadaga) female fish! He alludes to Rabbi Jarchi. (Haydock) — Thus nar, puer, is put for a girl, to imply that Rebecca was prudent and Dina rambling. (Buxt. Tib. 13.) See Kennicott, Dis. 2., p. 417 and 552. — Noble discoveries! Many suppose (Haydock) that this fish was a whale, as it does not live on flesh; (Calmet) but its throat being so narrow, as hardly to suffer a man’s arm to pass, it is more probable that it was the sea-dog, lamia or canis chariarias, (Bartolin 14.) which may easily contain a man. (Aldrovandus iii. 32.) (Menochius) — This sea-dog, or shark, has five rows of teeth in each jaw. Human bodies have been found entire in the stomach. (Button.) — Our Saviour calls the fish a whale, Matthew xii. 40. (Worthington) — But that term is given to any great sea monster. Yet it is not of much importance what species of fish be meant, provided the miracle be admitted. (Calmet) — The pagans ridiculed it. (St. Augustine, ep. 102. q. 6. 30.) — Yet they believed many of a similar nature, alleging the omnipotence of God. (St.. Jerome) — This reason accounts for all the miracles recorded in Scripture. But might not God have chosen some easier expedient? We must not dive into his reasons. The impression which such a fact would make on the Ninivites, and the prefiguring of Christ’s burial, might suffice. Jonas was not a type of his death, as some have imagined, Q. ad Orthodox. (Calmet) — Nights, or as long as our Saviour was in the monument, (Menochius) which was about thirty-four hours. (Calmet, Dis.)
Ver. 2. Prayed. He entertained these sentiments. (Sanct. xiv.) — He afterwards wrote them down. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. I cried. These five verses (Haydock) express his thoughts while he was in the sea, (St. Jerome; Calmet) or in the fish. (Haydock) — He doubtless prayed before, when he was cast into the sea, and also in the whale’s belly, having then greater confidence that he should arrive safely on dry land, (ver. 5.) and therefore vowing sacrifices of thanks, ver. 10. (Worthington) — Hell; the whale’s belly, (Theodoret; &c.) or rather the depth of the sea. It may denote any imminent danger.
Ver. 5. Eyes, in a sort of despair, like the psalmist, xxx. 23. Yet he presently resumes fresh confidence in God, notwithstanding the greatness of his offences. — Temple. He went to Jerusalem, like other good Israelites.
Ver. 6. Soul, so that I was in danger of being suffocated, Psalms lxviii. 2. (Calmet) — Sea. Hebrew, “weeds entangled,” &c. (Haydock) — The Mediterranean has a great deal of sea weed. He speaks of the time before he was swallowed up by the fish.
Ver. 7. Lowest. Hebrew and Septuagint, “clefts.” — Bars, or prisons, in the abyss, (Calmet) farthest from the heights. (Worthington)
Ver. 8. Me, at the last gasp, (Calmet) and oppressed with grief. (Menochius)
Ver. 9. Mercy. He alludes to the sailors. (Theodoret) — Hebrew also, “let them forsake their worship,” (Drusius, Leviticus xx. 17.) or they are guilty of impiety. They neglect their vows, ver. 10., and chap. i. 16. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Spoke to the fish. God’s speaking to the fish was nothing else but his will, which all things obey. (Challoner) (Worthington) — Land. Josephus says near the Euxine Sea. But thus it must have travelled 800 leagues. Others fix upon different places, without any proof. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Jonas is swallowed up by a great fish; he prayeth with confidence in God: and the fish casteth him out on the dry land.
1 Now the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonas: *and Jonas was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
2 And Jonas prayed to the Lord, his God, out of the belly of the fish.
3 And he said: *I cried out of my affliction to the Lord, and he heard me: I cried out of the belly of hell, and thou hast heard my voice.
4 And thou hast cast me forth into the deep, in the heart of the sea, and a flood hath compassed me: all thy billows, and thy waves have passed over me.
5 And I said: I am cast away out of the sight of thy eyes: but yet I shall see thy holy temple again.
6 *The waters compassed me about even to the soul: the deep hath closed me round about, the sea hath covered my head.
7 I went down to the lowest parts of the mountains: the bars of the earth have shut me up for ever: and thou wilt bring up my life from corruption, O Lord, my God.
8 When my soul was in distress within me, I remembered the Lord: that my prayer may come to thee, unto thy holy temple.
9 They that are vain observe vanities, forsake their own mercy.
10 But I with the voice of praise will sacrifice to thee: I will pay whatsoever I have vowed for my salvation to the Lord.
11 And the Lord spoke to the fish: and it vomited out Jonas upon the dry land.
1: Matthew xii. 40. and xvi. 4.; Luke xi. 30.; 1 Corinthians xv. 4.
3: Psalm cxix. 1.
6: Psalm lxviii. 1.