(i) Jonahs Whale : Biblical Outline

Jonahs Whale : The story of Jonah and the Whale, one of the oddest accounts in the Bible, opens with God speaking to Jonah, son of Amittai, commanding him to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh.

Jonah found this order unbearable. Not only was Nineveh known for its wickedness, but it was also the capital of the Assyrian empire, one of Israel’s fiercest enemies. Jonah, a stubborn fellow, did just the opposite of what he was told. He went down to the seaport of Joppa and booked passage on a ship to Tarshish, heading directly away from Nineveh. The Bible tells us Jonah “ran away from the Lord.”

In response, God sent a violent storm, which threatened to break the ship to pieces. The terrified crew cast lots, determining that Jonah was responsible for the storm. Jonah told them to throw him overboard. First they tried rowing to shore, but the waves got even higher. Afraid of God, the sailors finally tossed Jonah into the sea, and the water immediately grew calm. The crew made a sacrifice to God, swearing vows to him.

Instead of drowning, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, which God provided. In the belly of the whale, Jonah repented and cried out to God in prayer. He praised God, ending with the eerily prophetic statement, “Salvation comes from the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9, NIV)

Jonah was in the giant fish three days. God commanded the whale, and it vomited the reluctant prophet onto dry land. This time Jonah obeyed God. He walked through Nineveh proclaiming that in forty days the city would be destroyed. Surprisingly, the Ninevites believed Jonah’s message and repented, wearing sackcloth and covering themselves in ashes. God had compassion on them and did not destroy them.

Again Jonah questioned God, because Jonah was angry that Israel’s enemies had been spared. When Jonah stopped outside the city to rest, God provided a vine to shelter him from the hot sun. Jonah was happy with the vine, but the next day God provided a worm that ate the vine, making it wither. Growing faint in the sun, Jonah complained again.

God scolded Jonah for being concerned about a vine, but not about Nineveh, which had 120,000 lost people. The story ends with God expressing concern even about the wicked.

(ii) Jonahs Whale : Mystical Interpretation

Jonah means ‘dove’ and is a representation of the divine spirit.

Crew of the ship = are the thoughts that come into our minds.

The crew try to row and row and do things their own way, whereas Jonah wants to jump into the sea.

His thoughts were trying to rule him but he wanted to give himself up to God.

The word ‘ship’ = you & your personality and direction in life. The ship is being rocked by the storm. So we are being rocked by the events in our lives and the world as is represented symbolically in the photo at the beginning of the article.

Jonah 1: 11  Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

 12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

The storm of your life will only be calm when your spirit (Jonah) is cast into the deep-sea.

The deep-sea = the stillness, emptiness or nothingness of spirit. There is something that happens in meditation that calms the storm.

So cast your spirit into the deep-sea of meditation and bliss.

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

So the mind rebels to the process of us trying to achieve calmness in meditation and just keeps on producing thoughts (the storm).

15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

From HER raging = the raging of the emotions of which we are drowning.

The spirit was cast from the body here = an out-of-body experience or seeing the limits of the body. Deep meditation can bring about states of consciousness that go far beyond the physical body.

2nd Corinthians 5

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

Identification with the physical body is a distraction from God or spirit

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Jonah 1 (continued)

16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.

Men = thoughts made vows.

A vow in mysticism =  to separate from human thought  or get detachment from the body and mind. For example shaving of the hair symbolized that they were no longer dependent on what grew out of the head or mind.

This is also symbolized in the bible in:

Acts 18

18 And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.




23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;

24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

Here disciples of the apostle Paul shaved their heads… not something the church seems to recognize.

So back to Jonah, the vow has been made that you are no longer going to be a slave to the lower nature but will follow the way of spirit.

Jonah 1

17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.



3 days or 72 hours in the belly of a fish.

In mysticism the word fish = source of spiritual secrets. Water contains the depths of the unknown or depths of hidden knowledge. So being swallowed by the fish = being immersed within the depths of your spiritual nature through meditation.  In the fish you are devoured in the sea of nothingness and are no longer floundering in the ship (your body) but you are now consumed or swallowed by God.

Kabbalah states that God has his dwelling in the great sea and is a fish therein.

3 = change resurrection, new life. Another example is 3 days Jesus was in the tomb before the resurrection.

Matthew 12

38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

God is asking us to teach other people who the destruction should come about on our fourfold nature. In the tomb or the fish we are in the centre of God and there will be a resurrection and the way we see the world will be transformed. This is what ‘born again’ was supposed to refer to; inner spiritual realisations.Here Jesus is referring to the process of surrendering to Spirit, he is not referring to an actual evangelist being devoured by a great fish !

John 21

Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.

And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.


Cast your net on the right side of the ship(your body) and you will find the divine on the right side in meditation. How many fish were caught ? Again there is reference to the right side or the east as in the Garden of Eden. As we meditate more, we can stop focusing on all that demanding noise, and instead focus on engaging our Right Brain experience; trying to catch it and live in it for as long as possible. When we start finding that stillness in meditation we let go of our lower nature. Some meditation groups develop awareness of an inner light and sound within and meditate upon these energies e.g. http://www.santmat-thetruth.de/

11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

1+5+3 = 9 , the number of divine consciousness. So we are now safe in the centre of the fish, centred in meditation, because we cried out in despair of our life and chose God in the process. So the number 153 has mystical significance, it is not just a random number.

Jonah 2

Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly,

And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

The belly of hell = your lower mind/nature that has caused all our problems.

For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

Into the deep means into meditation.. in the midst of the seas means the seas of our emotions.

And thy waves passed over me.. mystical experiences inside.

Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

We were as low as we could get but meditation upon the divine leads us away from the corruption of the senses.

When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

When I was almost lost to the yearnings of my soul and longing for God, I prayed or gave attention to God in the Holy temple (the body). i.e. meditation.


They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.


But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

Pay as in tithing or 10%. Giving up the left side for the sake of the right or spiritual side. Once we have committed ourselves, this is our direction then.

10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land:





Jonah 3

And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.

And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

He gets religious as he is saved and they are not.

Jonah goes to Nineveh, the big city after God asks him to teach.



And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:

Take no thought.

Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

God does not punish them.

Jonah 4

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

Jonah wants to die as he is not getting the destruction he wants.

So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

He does what religious people do today, waiting for Armageddon to happen the people of the city. He sits on the east side, the place of holiness waiting for all others to suffer Gods wrath.

And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

Gourd = a plant. Totally consumed in spirit  but you are still a human being.

But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

Jonah admits to being angry even unto his death as it’s not happening the way God said  ie an Armageddon.

10 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:

Jonah had done nothing to earn the gourd. It is God that decides what happens and what does not happen. As a human being we are part of nature and must flow with it not against it but doing God’s will.

11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

6 score thousand 6 times 20 =12 = perfection  

cattle = lower beast nature. God refuses to bring Armageddon on anybody and will be there for anyone who wants him. He wants everyone to see him.

(iii) Jonahs Whale :  In Summary

We can see from the detailed account of the scripture above that the story of Jonah and the Whale has nothing to do with a physical event but rather it is allegorical of the change in us when we engage in meditation. The three days and nights is a significant mystical event that recurs throughout the bible and an understanding of the mysticism that lies behind it is critical to understanding the entombment of Christ and the conversion of Jonah.

(iv) Jonahs Whale Recommended Links

1. Jonah and Samson – Bill Donahue

2. Tall Tale and a Hungry Whale – Bill Donahue

3. Man Overboard – Bill Donahue




Jonahs Whale

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