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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Whale occurs in several places of the Old Testament, and once in the New Testament. In the passages where scales and feet are mentioned as belonging to the animals so designated, commentators have shown that the crocodile is intended, which then is synonymous with the leviathan; and they have endeavored also to demonstrate, where they draw the dugs to suckle their young, that seals are meant, although cetacea nourish theirs in a similar manner. It may be doubted whether, in most of the cases, the poetical diction points absolutely to any specific animal, particularly as there is more force and grandeur in a generalized and collective image of the huge monsters of the deep, not inappropriately so called, than in the restriction to anyone species, since all are in made collectively subservient to the supremacy of man. But criticism is still more inappropriate when, not contented with pointing to some assumed species, it attempts to rationalize miraculous events by such arguments; as in the case of Jonah, where the fact of whales having a small gullet, and not being found in the Mediterranean, is adduced to prove that the huge fish was not a cetacean, but a shark! It may be observed, besides, of cetaceous animals, that though less frequent in the Mediterranean than in the ocean, they are far from being unknown there.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Whale'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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