n Journal for Semitics - Jonah’s dāg gādôl, a Sea-Monster Associated with the Primeval Sea? - research

Volume 28 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1013-8471



The quest for the identity of the fish in the story of Jonah has been extraordinary. Many attempts have been made to identify known sea animals, with bodies and mouths large enough to swallow and harbour a human being. The whale seems to have been crowned the general best-fit solution. A few interpretations have veered to the mythological, with the fish being associated with creatures such as sea-monsters. None of these viewpoints convincingly identified the Jonah fish as a sea-monster associated with the primeval waters. The probability that dāg gādôl was a primeval sea-monster is investigated. How mythical creatures thrived in the milieu of the Jonah narrative and why these mythological creatures are absent from modern Bible translations is explored, as well as the dissonance of translators and interpreters not to endorse a foreign creature in the Old Testament. This article hopes to shed new light on the probable identity of Jonah’s fish.

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