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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Whale

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hwāl : (1) κῆτος , kḗtos ( Sirach 43:25 (the Revised Version (British and American) "sea-monster"); The Song of Three Children verse 57 (the Revised Version (British and American) "whale"); Matthew 12:40 (the Revised Version (British and American) "whale," margin "sea-monster"; the King James Version "whale" throughout)). (2) תּנּין , tannı̄n (Genesis 1:21 ; Job 7:12 ), "sea-monster," the King James Version "whale." (3) תּנּים , tannı̄m (Ezekiel 32:2 ), "monster," the English Revised Version "dragon" the King James Version "whale" the King James Version margin "dragon."

It will be seen from the above references that the word "whale" does not occur in the Revised Version (British and American) except in The Song of Three Children verse 57 and Matthew 12:40 . Kētos , the original word in these passages, is, according to Liddell and Scott, used by Aristotle for "whale," Aristotle using also the adjective κητώδης , kētṓdēs , "cetacean"; Homer and Herodotus used kētos for any large fish or sea-monster or for a seal. It is used in Euripides of the monster to which Andromeda was exposed. In the Hebrew, in the Book of Jonah, we find dāgh or dāghāh , the ordinary word for "fish": "And Yahweh prepared great fish to swallow up Jonah" (Jonah 1:17 ). Whales are found in the Mediterranean and are sometimes cast up on the shore of Palestine, but it is not likely that the ancient Greeks or Hebrews were very familiar with them, and it is by no means certain that whale is referred to, either in the original Jonah story or in the New Testament reference to it. If any particular animal is meant, it is more likely a shark. Sharks are much more familiar objects in the Mediterranean than whales, and some of them are of large size. See FISH .

In Genesis 1:21 , "And God created the great seamonsters" (the King James Version, "whales"), and Job 7:12 ,

"Am I a sea, or a sea-monster (the King James Version "whale"),

That thou settest a watch over me?"

The Hebrew has tannı̄n , which word occurs 14 times in the Old Testament and in the American Standard Revised Version is translated "monster," "sea-monster," or "serpent," and, exceptionally, in Lamentations 4:3 , "jackals." the King James Version renders in several passages "dragon" (compare Ezekiel 29:3 the English Revised Version).

Tannı̄m in Ezekiel 29:3 and Ezekiel 32:2 is believed to stand for tannı̄n . the American Standard Revised Version has "monster," the English Revised Version "dragon," the King James Version "whale," the King James Version margin "dragon," in Ezekiel 32:2 , and "dragon" in Ezekiel 29:3 . Tannı̄m occurs in 11 other passages, where it is considered to be the plural of tann , and in the Revised Version (British and American) is translated "jackals," in the King James Version "dragons" (Job 30:29 ; Psalm 44:19 ; Isaiah 13:22 ; Isaiah 34:13 ; Isaiah 35:7 ; Isaiah 43:20 ; Jeremiah 9:11 ; Jeremiah 10:22 ; Jeremiah 14:6 ; Jeremiah 49:33 ; Jeremiah 51:37 ). In Malachi 1:3 we find the feminine plural tannōth . See DRAGON ; JACKAL .


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Whale'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/w/whale.html. 1915.

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