Matthew 12:40 "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".
It is the same Greek word found in Jonah 1:17 in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) Old Testament bible that Jesus would have used in this lifetime in the flesh on Earth.
The Greek word is Ketos, Strong's Concordance Greek word #2785, which at first seems to be very generic. The most literal translation would be "sea creature".
I looked up the origin of the word "whale":
"Animals of the mammalian order Cetacea," Old English hwæl "whale," also "walrus," from Proto-Germanic *hwalaz (source also of Old Saxon hwal, Old Norse hvalr, hvalfiskr, Swedish val, Middle Dutch wal, walvisc, Dutch walvis, Old High German wal, German Wal), from PIE *(s)kwal-o- (source also of Latin squalus "a kind of large sea fish"). In popular use it was applied to any large sea animal."
So then, I looked up "Cetacea".
"Order of marine mammals containing whales, 1795, Modern Latin, from Latin cetus "any large sea creature" (whales, seals, dolphins), from Greek ketos "a whale, a sea monster," which is of unknown origin, + -acea."
Therefore, whales are Cetacea, which comes from the same Greek word Ketos.
Yes, whale are Ketos. But Ketos also includes seals & dolphins.
Would a seal or dolphin be big enough to swallow a man whole? No.
Then, I looked at the Wiki article for Cetacea.
"Cetaceans (/sɪˈteɪʃəns/) (from Latin cetus "whale", from Greek κῆτος kētos "huge fish") are aquatic mammals constituting the infraorder Cetacea. There are around 89 living species, which are divided into two parvorders. The first is the Odontoceti, the toothed whales, which consist of around 70 species, including the dolphin, porpoise, beluga whale, narwhal, sperm whale, and beaked whale. The second is the Mysticeti, the baleen (from Latin balæna, whale) whales, which have a filter-feeder system, and consist of 15 species divided into 3 families, and include the right whale, bowhead whale, rorqual, pygmy right whale, and gray whale."
If we translate it as "fish" for "great fish", that would be food/ammunition for the atheists & other mockers to attack the scriptures and claim that Jesus and the prophets didn't know the difference between a mammal and a fish.
If we translate it as "sea creature", that could open the door to the same people and to weak Christians, who could say or think "maybe it was a shark or octopus or some other sea creature". Although at times the Greek word was used to refer to anything in the water, I believe that was just the uneducated that used it in that way. I believe that the prophets and Jesus would have recognized it more properly as the mammal family of whales and dolphins, but that only the whales (and sharks who are not Cetacean) would be big enough, except for some unknown sea monster or dinosaur, which would not technically be a Cetacean.
The translation of whale is the most accurate, considering the Greek & Latin words and the size of creature that it must have been.
I believe that we have enough evidence in these words, that it was definitely a whale.
Also, a shark would have bitten & killed Jonah. Although some whales have teeth, some don't, and some have only on the bottom jaw, and some have only 1-2 teeth. Whales makes a lot more sense, plus sharks are not Cetacean. But only sharks and whales are big enough to swallow a man.
Yes it was a whale.
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Did a Fish or Whale Swallow Jonah? Copyright 2019 I Saw The Light Ministries