- Bible Reference: Matthew 12:40
- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: No
- Included in Naves: No
- Included in Smiths: Yes
- Included in Websters: Yes
- Included in Strongs: No
- Included in Thayers: No
- Included in BDB: No
The Hebrew word tan (plural, tannin) is so rendered in Job 7:12 (A.V.; but R.V., "sea-monster"). It is rendered by "dragons" in Deuteronomy 32:33; Psalms 91:13; Jeremiah 51:34; Psalms 74:13 (marg., "whales;" and marg. of R.V., "sea-monsters"); Isaiah 27:1; and "serpent" in Exodus 7:9 (R.V. marg., "any large reptile," and so in ver. 10, 12). The words of Job (7:12), uttered in bitter irony, where he asks, "Am I a sea or a whale?" simply mean, "Have I a wild, untamable nature, like the waves of the sea, which must be confined and held within bounds, that they cannot pass?" "The serpent of the sea, which was but the wild, stormy sea itself, wound itself around the land, and threatened to swallow it up...Job inquires if he must be watched and plagued like this monster, lest he throw the world into disorder" (Davidson's Job).
The whale tribe are included under the general Hebrew name tannin (Genesis 1:21; Lamentations 4:3). "Even the sea-monsters [tanninim] draw out the breast." The whale brings forth its young alive, and suckles them.
It is to be noticed of the story of Jonah's being "three days and three nights in the whale's belly," as recorded in Matthew 12:40, that here the Gr. ketos means properly any kind of sea-monster of the shark or the whale tribe, and that in the book of Jonah (1:17) it is only said that "a great fish" was prepared to swallow Jonah. This fish may have been, therefore, some great shark. The white shark is known to frequent the Mediterranean Sea, and is sometimes found 30 feet in length.
As to the signification of the Hebrew terms tan and tannin , variously rendered in the Authorized Version by "dragon," "whale," "serpent," "sea-monster" see DRAGON. It remains for us in this article to consider the transaction recorded in the book of Jonah, of that prophet having been swallowed up by some great fish" which in (Matthew 12:40) is called cetos (ketos), rendered in our version by "whale." In the first glace, it is necessary to observe that the Greek word cetos , used by St. Matthew is not restricted in its meaning to "a whale," or any Cetacean ; like the Latin cete or cetus , it may denote any sea-monster, either "a whale," Or "a shark," or "a seal," or "a tunny of enormous size." Although two or three species of whale are found in the Mediterranean Sea, yet the "great fish" that swallowed the prophet cannot properly be identified with any Cetacean , for, although the sperm whale has a gullet sufficiently large to admit the body of a man, yet, it can hardly be the fish intended, as the natural food of Cetaceans consists of small animals,such as medus' and crustacea. The only fish, then, capable of swallowing a man would be a large specimen of the white shark (Carcharias vulgaris), that dreaded enemy of sailors, and the most voracious of the family of Squalid' . This shark, which sometimes attains the length of thirty feet, is quite able to swallow a man whole. The whole body of a man in armor has been found in the stomach of a white shark: and Captain King, in his survey of Australia, says he had caught one which could have swallowed a man with the greatest ease. Blumenbach mentions that a whole horse has' been found in a shark, and Captain Basil Hall reports the taking of one in which, besides other things, he found the whole skin of a buffalo which a short time before had been thrown overboard from his ship (p. 27). The white shark is not uncommon in the Mediterranean.
WHALE, noun [G., to stir, agitate or rove.] The general name of an order of animals inhabiting the ocean, arranged in zoology under the name of Cete or Cetacea, and belonging to the class Mammalia in the Linnean system. The common whale is of the genus Balaena. It is the largest animal of which we have any account, and probably the largest in the world. It is sometimes ninety feet in length in the northern seas, and in the torrid zone much larger. The whale furnishes us with oil, whalebone, etc. [See Cachalot.]
WHALEBONE, noun [whale and bone.] A firm elastic substance taken from the upper jaw of the whale, used as a stiffening in stays, fans, screens, etc.
WHALE-FISHERY, noun The fishery or occupation of taking whales.