Jonah and the Tale of a Whale

[INTERLOGUE: THUNDER & LIGHTNING; CRASHING OF WAVES; WIND BLOWS ACROSS A STORM-TOSSED SEA. ENTER THE THREE WYRDES

WYRD1: Hear the Rime of the Anicent Nevi’im!

WYRD2: See Jonah’s eye as he’s tossed in the sea.

WYRD0: Swallowed whole by a really big fucking fish

ALL: Stay, READER, listen to the nightmares of the sea!

[Exeunt, the WYRDES

WRITER: Hello, and welcome to a diversion about Jonah and the famous Tale of a Whale, wherein we speculate very wildly, indeed, and tell a Whale of a Tale!

READER: I’ve heard that one before! But don’t you owe us some part 2’s to another series or two that you’ve already begun?

WRITER: I know, I know. Yes, I do. But I was marinely inspired by all this research into the etymology of orcs and orcas and grampuses and Krampuses and such. It brought to mind the Tale of Jonah and the Whale; about which a casual click on a search engine bar yields such assertions as “one of the most popular Bible stories for children,” etc.

I read a synopsis of this popular children’s story. Then I reread the Book of Jonah (It’s not that long) in my Holy Bible with Apocrypha. Now, I want to retell the tale here in what I’ll call “California Urban Vernacular Bible English,” a kind of code-switching, I suppose. This means there will be swearing, cursing, cussing, profanity, blasphemy and some tangential name-taking-in-vain, as well as some early modern English turns of phrase used in the translation of my particular Bible. In other words: this way be Dagons. If you can’t deal, turn back now.

Are you ready for it?

READER: I am.

WRITER: Well, let’s dive right in, then!

So God wanted this cat named Jonah to go prophesy to the Ninevehans, yea, that He was gonna fuck their shit up if they didn’t mend their evil ways.  Jonah said, “Fuck you, God, I ain’t telling them shit; you tell them your Self-damned self,” and, as you do when you tell the God Father to fuck off, Jonah high-tailed it outta there on the next ship to bumfuck somewhere anywhere but where ever the fuck God wanted him to be. That destination turned out to be Tarshish, so it is written. Storms and choppy seas and all kinds of bad sailing juju (sense 3) accompanied the voyage, tossing the ship to and fro, threatening to smash it apart and deliver the sailors down into King David Jones’s locker. The mariners drew lots, and through that hoodoo divination method discerned that Jonah was the cause of their malefic maritime mojo. So the crew threw his ass overboard. Forthwith the wind and the waves were stilled.  They swiftly sailed away leaving Jonah to fuck off in the drink.

But did that mother fucker drown?

READER: Hell, no!

WRITER: That’s right, though bad fucking luck continued to dog that mother fucker–or swallow him, as the case may be–for he was gulped down by a real ‘big fish,’ or shall we say grampus The word given in Hebrew as meaning ‘Big Fish’ is Daga, or dag gadol (Dagon, by H.P. Lovecraft, anyone?). 

READER: Dang.

WRITER: Dagon.

Hmmm. That’s peculiar. This depiction of the ancient Mesopotamian and Caananite diety called Dagon, looks an awful lot like ‘Capricornus’ that we saw in Strange Relations #2: Germanic Folk Monsters and Whales? Image source: Wikipedia.

READER: Dog gone!

WRITER: [Laughs out loud.] Anyway, miraculously, Jonah wasn’t chewed up for ocean cud by this ginormous, toothy sea mammal, nor was he hideously maimed and destroyed by the digestive enzymes of his cetaceous host. 

READER: No, he wasn’t. Preach it, brother Michael!

WRITER: [Pointer finger raised to the sky and shaking.] Oh, no, lawdy, lawdy he was not! He was, however, brothers and sisters from other mothers and misters, scared as fuck. And repentant as all hell. He prayed and begged for God’s mercy for three days and three nights in the belly of this beast, blubbering like an obsequious oceanic bitch with Stockholm syndrome, until it came to pass that God caused the fat fish-like sea mammal to vomit that mother-fucker Jonah up.  Verily, I say unto thee: Jonah got the fuck with the program and did what the big bad voo-doo daddy bade, and went forth to preach among the Ninevehans–yea, that God was gonna fuck their shit up if they didn’t mend their evil ways. 

READER: Wait. So what exactly was so evil about the Ninevehans again?

WRITER: I don’t know. It doesn’t really say in the Book of Jonah, so far as I can tell.

Continuing: Jonah walked the length and breadth of the hood in Nineveh proclaiming, “Verily I say unto thee, O you sorry-ass mother fuckers of Nineveh, God is gonna fuck your ship up, too, if you don’t do as he says and mend your evil ways.”

READER: Hallelujah! Or the ship of your friends–

WRITER: –I don’t really care what happened to Jonah after that, because it’s that god-doomed ‘big fish’ that I’m interested in.

READER: Awww, Dagon it, you were on a roll. I was enjoying that. So why is that ‘big fish’ so interesting to you?

WRITER: Because the impossibility of Jonah surviving in the belly of a whale or any other ‘big fish’ for any amount of time got me thinking.

Image Source: Biblio

READER: A dangerous practice!

WRITER: Indeed. Anyway, here’s my wild-ass speculation: If you have ever read Fritz Leiber’s science fiction novel Gather, Darkness!, you will have been exposed to Leiber’s idea that religion and the accompanying “miracles” of God and such are just a bunch of scientific-dictating technocrats faking supernatural shit to maintain control over a population via ultra-advanced technology (who are in turn resisted by witches using real magick and supernatural abilities, in a brilliant twist!). 

READER: Oh, yeah, and there’s that famous Isaac Asimov quote:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

WRITER: Yup. Or divine intervention.

For shits and giggles, let’s pretend such a scenario as Leiber presents were possible and actually the case. Then my question would be: was Jonah taken into a submarine for three days and three nights by technocratic and largely secret, unseen overlords (underlords?) who gave him the third degree? who scared the beejeebus into him? whereby he was press-ganged back into service as a roving prophet of doom for the Lord?

READER: Huh. Well, that’s pretty damn wild but it would explain why Jonah was able to survive for three days and three nights in the belly of the beast. That’s some ancient aliens shit right there.

WRITER: Except the abductors are of this earth, or sea rather, and not from an alien sky. Yea, verily I say unto thee: Jonah got “swallowed” by a submarine–hallelujah!–and got told what the fuck was up, capice? That idea tickled my fancy so much I drew some pictures in my journal.

Sketch #1 from my personal journal. Jonah tossed in the drink, and along came a submarine.
Sketch #2 from my Journal. Jonah tossed in the drink. Later a whale spits him up on Orkney Island, where orcs live, naturally. Don’t mind the playlist scribbles from our themed listening parties….

In this video, the Philosopher Jason Reza Jorjani states that the Book of Job describes the creature in the Bible known as the Leviathan in surprisingly technological terms. The Leviathan was a sea monster. So we do actually have a precedent for a technological marvel like a submarine in a different Bible story, if we take Jorjani at his word.

By the by, after hearing Jorjani’s statement, I reread the story in my Holy Bible with Apocrypha and didn’t necessarily see the Leviathan described in technological terms, though particular translations go a long way toward presenting or obfuscating certain…details, so I need to read a few different translations before I disregard that particular assertion. However, I had already had the submarine idea before listening to this Jorjani interview or rereading the Book of Job, so, perhaps Jason Reza Jorjani and I are just the same kind of crazy, independent of each other.

READER: Clearly, you are nuts.

WRITER: Clearly. Anyway, Jorjani goes on to say that Thomas Hobbes picked up on this technological theme as regards the infamous sea beast and expanded it into a political meta-metaphor for the Ship of State and his subsequent argument for monarchy in his treatise of political philosophy known as Leviathan. For my part, re-reading the Book of Job reminded me of other famous myths: the rivalry between Zeus and Poseiden in Greek mythology for one; and especially the tale of Thor going fishing for the Midgard Serpent. I’m thinking in particular of Chapter 41 verse 1 where God asks Job (who is quite gnostic in his questioning of God’s goodness, I think):

Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?

Holy Bible with Apocrypha, Book of Job, 41:1

In this Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio interview, the author Adrienne Mayor talks about her book Gods and Robots. This book presents the idea that the ancient Greek myths contain descriptions of the “gods” and their superior technology. Pretty heady stuff, and definitely not something your average modern person was used to thinking about before the show Ancient Aliens.

Hymir, Thor, and the Serpent (circa 1893) Image source: The Norse Mythology Blog

And speaking of ancient technologies, the Antikthera mechanism is one such incredible device for making astronomical (astrological?) calculations and for keeping track of important events such as the Olympics. Also, people make a lot of hay out of the flying vehicles of the gods, known as vimanas, in Hindu and Jain mythology. I mean, if the gods had flying machines, then perhaps it’s not much of a stretch to include submarines. Alas…

READER: I don’t know, dude. Ancient submarines? But, hey, are you seriously not going to finish the story of Jonah and the Whale?

WRITER: Alright, alright.

And verily I say unto thee, mother fuckers: the Ninevehans did indeed mend their evil ways, so God didn’t fuck their shit up after all.  But through the agency of Jonah, he put them on blast. He kinda punked them and said, “What, scraps, you want some of this?!”  Yea, did the Ninevehans also get the fuck with the program and God most mercifully and kindly spared them his wrath.

Jonah was fucking pissed about this. You see, he set up a tent or something outside the city and watched to see whether God was gonna fuck their shit up or not. When the all mighty Lord did not, Jonah was like: “What the fuck, G!” So, God made some gourd grow up over his head to shield Jonah from the sun, or some shit like that. Then He made the gourd to shrivel with a quickness and Jonah got a sunburn or some shit. I don’t know, but verily did God say unto Jonah, “You mad, bro?”

To which Jonah replied, “Yeah, I’m fucking mad, bro. What the fuck, man?”

[Thunder and Lighting. A booming voice correcteth Jonah–“God.”]

And God answereth unto him: “Quit your bitch-ass, whining, Jonah. What the fuck! You didn’t do shit to make that gourd grow and you got your panties all in a bunch over it when I put a cap in its ass. I did that, mother fucker. Me! I am the Master that makes the green gourd grow, mother fucker! And those Ninevehans that I spared? That you’re so pissed about them living? Fuck you, Jonah! Those are six score thousand people right there, mother fucker, including bitches and hoes and their smart-mouthed kids with running nose. Plus, cattle, mother fucker. A shit ton of cattle.” Because God is a cosmic rancher of sorts to judge by the etymology of the word priest.

READER: WTF? Which is what?

WRITER: Oh, well…I hadn’t actually planned on doing the etymology of that word in this post, but since you insist; fuck it, here goes:

priest n. [ME. prest < OE. preost < LL. (Ec.) presbyter, an elder < Gr. presbyteros, elder, comp. of presbys, old, an old man (LGr. (Ec.), an elder) < IE. *pres-, ahead < base *per (cf. PER, PRE-) + *gwou-, COW1, OX (hence, orig., lead-ox)]

–Websters New World Dictionary of the American Language, (c) 1980

READER: ‘Lead ox’?

WRITER: Right? Speaking of which, do you know what kind of bait the Norse god of thunder Thor used to hook Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent?

READER: No.

WRITER: An ox’s head.

Anyway, to finally pin a tail on this tale of a whale, God basically told Jonah: “Shut the fuck up and deal! I am the Lord, thy mother-fucking God, mother fucker, and I don’t wanna hear anymore of your bitch-ass crying. Thou shalt do the fuck as I say when I say it! Got that, mother fucker?”

If anything more ever came of that for mother fucking Jonah and them crazy-ass iniquitous Ninevehans, that’s someone else’s tale to tell and the end of ours.

READER: Amen, brothers and sisters!

[THUNDER, LIGHTNING, & RAIN. ENTER THE THREE WYRDES


WYRD1: Day after day, night after night; Jonah stayed beneath the ocean

WYRD2: As frightened as a little kid caught up in a commotion

WYRD0: Metal, metal everywhere and all the brig did shriek.

ALL: Metal, metal everywhere; nor any one to preach….

WYRD1: If you are new and know not what etymology is, Click this Line If you want to give some thought on how an entry to read!

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WYRD0: Please like, share, subscribe to a platform or two, so the Words are Wyrd blog’s known the whole world through!

ALL: We live to take flights of fancy with you and explore the idea that Words are Wryd too!

EXEUNT, THE WYRDES IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE. READER CLICKS LINK OF CHOICE ON WRITER’S BLOG]