The sailors
15  So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.
Jonah 1:15  NASBu


3 For You had cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the current engulfed me.
All Your breakers and billows passed over me.

Jonah 2:3  NASBu


SAB Contradiction 260


It is a serious question the critic has posed: Who cast Jonah into the sea? The sailors or God? Or was it even Jonah who was responsible as he had encouraged the sailors to throw him into the see?


It is clear that the act of throwing was done by the sailors. And still Jonah could say to God while he was in prayer: “You had cast me into the deep …” It was absolutely clear to Jonah and later on to the sailors that it was God who had brought the storm, because of Jonah’s disobedience.


In a partnership or a cooperative undertaking it is natural to say that the principal did something while a co-worker actually worked out the will of the principal. In military language it may be spoken like this: ‘Montgomery took El Alamein.’ Or ‘Montgomery’s army took the city.’ Of course both statements are true.
In the story of Jonah the sailors are only the men who perform the will of God revealed by Jonah as God’s prophet saying, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” According to natural language it is possible to say that both statements are true: ‘The sailors threw Jonah into the see,’ and ‘You (God) had cast me into the deep (through the sailors)’


No Bible Contradiction


Additional Remarks

The story of Jonah can make us question: Are we responsible for our own misfortune?
It is incorrect to make God responsible for all the misfortunes that happen, that he is ‘constantly punishing’. The Bible teaches that we live in the Fall of Man, separated from God, in which many things go wrong. Each man and woman, believing or not believing, is wrestling with this state of deficiency.
Sometimes a personal fault can have the consequence of misfortune. Such is the case when sometimes Jesus would heal and say ‘Do not sin again.’ But mostly he didn’t use these words. Another example is the case of a man blind from birth to whom  Jesus said (on the question of his disciples ‘… who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’): ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; …’ So, it is inappropriate according to the Bible to accuse people of their own misfortune, even if in some cases we know that we suffer the consequences of our missteps.


Has there ever been someone who was saved from ‘a great fish’?
The fish in the book of Jonah was not a whale as this animal has to small a throat to swallow Jonah. Only the cachalot is able to do so, moreover it has an enormous stomach in which it has an atmosphere and a temperature of about 20 degrees Celsius.
In 1801 two sloops of the ‘Star of the East’ were hunting on a cachalot. One sloop capsized and a man named James Bartley disappeared. Later on this cachalot was killed. After two days and a night of cutting blubber, the cutters opened the stomach as it moved in a strange manner. To their astonishment James Bartley came out. His skin had become a white color due to the acidity of the stomach.
Sir John Bland-Sutton (1855-1936) also reported about an incident with cachalot hunting. A cachalot got seriously hurt and attacked a sloop. During this, he swallowed the sailor Marshall Jenkins. Later on the cachalot came up and spit out Jenkins together with a mass of dead cuttlefish.
(Source: Algemeen Handelsblad, 3 March, 1928 – The Netherlands)


How could the prayer of Jonah have been preserved?
It was not unusual that the person who prayed in the temple of Jerusalem jotted down his prayer on a wax tablet. Later on he could see how God reacted on his prayer. Jonah didn’t have that opportunity. When we read the prayer of Jonah in the stomach of the fish we see that it looks like a Biblical Psalm; probably he prayed according to an existing psalm that he knew and which gave him new inspiration to recover his trust in God.