Frederick Buechner (1926-2022) wrote:
If it was actually a whale that swallowed Jonah on his voyage to Tarshish, it couldn’t have been the right kind of whale you find in those waters because their gullets aren’t big enough. Maybe it was a sperm whale, because they handle something the size of a prophet without batting an eye. Or maybe, since the Hebrew word means only ‘great fish,’ it wasn’t a whale at all, but a people-eating shark, some of which attain lengths as great as thirty feet. But whatever it was, this much is certain.
No matter how deep it dove and no matter how dark the inside of its belly, no depth or darkness was enough to drown out the sound of Johan’s prayer. “I am cast out from thy presence. How shall I again look upon thy holy temple?” (Jonah 2:4) The intractable and waterlogged old man called out from sixty fathoms, and Yahweh heard him, and answered him, and Jonah’s relief at being delivered from the whale can hardly have been any greater than the whale’s at being delivered of Jonah. (See Jonah 1:17-2:10)
“Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” Jesus