Jonah and the Whale as Solar Mythology
Further explanation of the biblical tale of Jonah being swallowed by a whale/fish, which is obviously not historical but is, in fact, a well-known solar myth.
...Several myths and legends told of a hero being swallowed by a sea monster. Almost all of them have some parallel to Jonah's story. The sun myth pictured the descending sun in the west as being swallowed by a monster only to reappear in the east. It was known in Persia and in Egypt. Jonah's parallel is that he travels west, is swallowed in the west, and returns in the darkness of the fish's belly to appear in the east. But if this myth had any influence on Jonah's author, he has changed it completely. Now it takes place in history, with natural creatures in the roles, and testifies to the authority of God's word and will over creation and human history. (John D. Watts, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah
, Cambridge University Press, 1975:82)
Research into the book of Jonah has postulated different phases of a prehistory of the narrative. In a sun myth the sun is swallowed up by the western part of the sea and then rises again. This myth is "historicized and re-neutralized in Jonah, as...Jonah replaces the sun and the 'great fish' plays the role of the sea." On other than, the period of time Jonah stayed in the belly of the fish suggests a moon myth, and calls to mind, among other things, Inanna's descent into the underworld. The "great fish" recalls the sea monster in the story of Heracles and Perseus, who went into the innermost parts of the monster, killed it, and then came out into the light again. Wolff thinks this Greek saga is "the bridge between the sun myth and the Jonah narrative; the sun becomes the legendary hero who came out of the sun, and the sea becomes the sea monster. (G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, eds. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament
, Volume 3, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1975:138)
I would add to the Botterweck analysis that the three-day period is also solar and well known as such. That being said, ancient myths more often than not have more than one meaning, and heroes frequently were solar, lunar and stellar in nature, among other attributes.
It appears that "Jonah" is the biblical remake of the ancient Babylonian solar-fish god Oannes, who rose out of the sea to bring wisdom to mankind. His name in the Greek Old Testament or Septuagint ("LXX") is Ιωνας Ionas, similar to Ὡάννης Oannes, the Greek name of the Babylonian Adapa
.Whale or Fish?
The debate about the "whale" meaning of the original Hebrew דג dag
brings up an interesting element. To wit, the root word is דגה dagah
, which means:
"(Qal) to multiply, increase" and "to cover... to cover over; hence to be dark," evidently reflecting the "multitude and plenty covering over every thing...."
This definition also reflects a solar connection, with the darkening aspect. It is these sort of qualities that the ancients looked for and perceived, weaving them into their myths.http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lex ... 1711&t=KJV
Most English Bibles render the term דג dag
as "fish," but the impression of a whale evidently comes from the Greek Old Testament or Septuagint, with its rendering of κήτει μεγάλῳ ketei megalo
, the latter word meaning "big."
Κήτει or κῆτος ketos
means "abyss" or "sea monster," precisely as we would expect of a myth from a Mediterranean culture, since the sea was viewed with great reverence and terrible awe.http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/mor ... &prior=kai
The Greek word κῆτος ketos
in Latin, which serves as the basis for "cetacean," which, of course, includes whales. Hence, we see where this tradition comes from.
In any event, there are many myths about gods - largely solar - battling with sea monsters and leviathans or other terminology. I discuss these in depth in my book Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver
:http://DidMosesExist.comJonah and the Whale is an ancient SUN myth
Why suffer from Egyptoparallelophobia, when you can read Christ in Egypt
? Try it - you'll like it: