The Other Jonah

Robert Strand

Do you believe the Bible story about Jonah being swallowed by a huge fish? How about a real life story about another Jonah who was swallowed and lived to tell it?

In February, 1891, a young English sailor, James Bartley, was a crew member on the whaling ship, "Star of the East." It roamed the waters off the Falkland Islands in search of these marine leviathans.

whalefinAbout three miles off shore, they spotted a sperm whale that later proved to be 80 feet long and weighed over 80 tons! Two boats with crew members and harpooners, one of them Bartley, went after the monster. When struck by the first harpoon, the whale twisted and lashed out and slammed his tail into one of the boats, lifted it out of the water and capsized it. Soon the whalers had subdued the whale, righted the rowboat and discovered Bartley and another crew member were missing. They were written off as being drowned.

The crew, pulled the whale alongside the boat, removed the blubber and with a derrick hoisted the carcass on deck. According to M. deParville, science editor of The Journal des Debats the crew discovered movement inside the belly of the whale. When opened they found Bartley, unconscious. They immediately bathed him in sea water which revived him but his mind was confused. He was confined to the Captain's quarters for two weeks because he was "acting like a lunatic."

Within four weeks, Bartley fully recovered and related what it had been like to live in the belly of this whale! However, for the rest of his life, Bartley's face, neck and hands remained white...bleached by the whale's gastric juices!

"The Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights!" (Jonah 1:17)