That is a very interesting question. Some think that Jonah did actually die while in the belly of the great fish, while others do not. Most of us are familiar with the story of Jonah. The Lord had commanded him to go to Nineveh to proclaim the Lord’s judgment on that city. Jonah did not want to go, so he boarded a ship going in the opposite direction. Because of Jonah’s disobedience, the Lord sent a great storm that beat upon the ship. Eventually, it was determined that the storm came because of Jonah, and with Jonah’s permission, he was cast out of the ship so that the storm would cease. We then read in 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.”

I encourage you to read the entire book of Jonah. The accounts given are fascinating and the lessons for us today in this book are so needful. Chapter 2 gives us the prayer of Jonah from the belly of the fish. Let’s look at Jonah 2:9-10 which says, “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.” As soon as Jonah acknowledged that ‘Salvation is of the Lord’, the Lord had the fish spit Jonah out on the dry land near Nineveh.

Now let’s go to the New Testament at an occasion when the Lord Jesus was being questioned by the religious leaders of His day. Matthew 12:38-40 tells us, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 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: 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.” Some have taken this to mean that since the Lord compared his time in the tomb to Jonah’s time in the fish’s belly, that must mean that Jonah also had died and was raised again after three days.

Many others believe that Jonah being in the belly of the fish is simply a ‘type’ of the Lord Jesus being in the tomb. They believe Jonah did not die, but, according to Jonah, chapter 2, he prayed the entire time he was in the fish’s belly.

One promise that we here at Answers From the Book have made, is that we will not give you our opinions, we will share what the Word of God says. To this question, I have to say that I cannot say emphatically whether Jonah died or not. I do have my thoughts and opinions, but that is not valuable to you. What is valuable is what the Word says. I believe the valuable lesson for us here is that the Lord Jesus died for our sins, and rose again in three days. We read in Romans 4:25 that Christ, “…was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” As the Lord was trying to point out to the scribes and Pharisees, Jonah was a type of what the Lord Jesus would do for us to save us from our sins. How thankful we should be for His love and death on the cross for us.

Christ died for all, but not all are saved. Those who believe in Him as their Lord and savior are saved for eternity. Acts 17:30-31 tells us that God, “…now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Do you know Him as your savior? (163.6)