Biblical and Quranic prophet
Jonah or Jonas is the name given in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh/Old Testament) to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BCE. He is the eponymous central figure of the Book of Jonah, in which he is called upon by God to travel to Nineveh and warn its residents of impending divine wrath. Instead, Jonah boards a ship to Tarshish. Caught in a storm, he orders the ship's crew to cast him overboard, whereupon he is swallowed by a giant fish. Three days later, after Jonah agrees to go to Nineveh, the fish vomits him out onto the shore. Jonah successfully convinces the entire city of Nineveh to repent, but waits outside the city in expectation of its destruction. God shields Jonah from the sun with a plant, but later sends a worm to cause it to wither. When Jonah complains of the bitter heat, God rebukes him.
In Judaism, the story of Jonah represents the teaching of teshuva, which is the ability to repent and be forgiven by God. In the New Testament, Jesus calls himself "greater than Jonah" and promises the Pharisees "the sign of Jonah", which is his resurrection. Early Christian interpreters viewed Jonah as a type for Jesus. Later, during the Reformation, Jonah came to be seen instead as an archetype for the "envious Jew". Jonah is regarded as a prophet in Islam and the biblical narrative of Jonah is repeated, with a few notable differences, in the Quran. Mainstream Bible scholars generally regard the Book of Jonah as fictional and often at least partially satirical, but the character of Jonah may have been based on the historical prophet of the same name mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25.
Although the word "whale" is often used in English versions of the Jonah story, the Hebrew text actually uses the phrase dag gadol, which means "giant fish". In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the species of the fish that swallowed Jonah was the subject of speculation for naturalists, who interpreted the story as an account of a historical incident. Some modern scholars of folklore have noted similarities between Jonah and other legendary figures, such as Gilgamesh and the Greek hero Jason.
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