Wednesday, September 12, 2007

James "Jonah" Bartley

No story in all of the Bible has faced more ridicule than that of Jonah being swallowed by the great fish. So just how possible is it that a man could be swallowed by a large fish and live to tell his story? If the accounts are accurate, Jonah is not the only person in the history of the world to have experienced such an unusual occurrence. Sir Francis Scott relates the following account which was carefully investigated by two scientists. Some have argued that this story was a hoax and it probably is. Hoax or not, however, it is interesting reading. The story was written exactly as such:

In February 1891, the whale ship Star of the East was in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands, and the lookout spotted a large sperm whale three miles away. Two boats were lowered, and in a short time one of the harpooners was enabled to spear the fish. The second boat attacked the whale, but was upset by a lash of its tail, and the men thrown into the seas, one being drowned, and another, James Bartley, having disappeared, could not be found.

The whale was killed, and in a few hours the great body was lying by the ship’s side, and the crew busy with the axes and spades removing the blubber. They worked all day and part of the night. Next day they attached some tackle to the stomach, which was hoisted on deck. The sailors were startled by spasmodic signs of life, and inside was found the missing sailor, doubled up and unconscious. He was laid on the deck and treated to a bath of sea water which soon revived him; but his mind was not clear, and he was placed in the captain’s quarters, where he remained two weeks a raving lunatic.

He was kindly and carefully treated by the captain, and by the officers of the ship, and gradually regained possession of his senses. At the end of third week he had entirely recovered from his shock, and resumed his duties.

During his sojourn in the whale’s stomach, Bartley’s skin, where exposed to the action of the gastric juice, underwent a striking change. His face, neck and hands were bleached to a deadly whiteness, and took on the appearance of parchment. Bartley affirms that he would have probably have lived inside his house of flesh until he starved, for he lost his senses through fright and not from lack of air.

Here is another account that is worth noting:

In 1912, Captain Charles Thompson harpooned a large mammal off the coast of Florida which, when it was brought to land, was found to contain another 1,500 pound fish that had been devoured whole. Those who examined Thompson’s catch said that it could have swallowed 20 average size men. A Baptist minister who came upon the scene stood in the creature’s mouth holding his hands above his head and still found he was too short to reach the top of the fish’s palate.

If true, these accounts simply reinforce what we already know by faith…the Bible is true!

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