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Real-Life Jonah A Man Who Survived in the Belly of a Whale

About the strange event in history where James Bartley survived inside the belly of a whale much like the Biblical Jonah.

The Man Who Survived the Belly of the Monster

"Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly; and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish 3 days and 3 nights . . . And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."

--Jonah 1:16-17; 2:10

In February, 1891, the ship Star of the East was off the Falkland Islands when the crew spotted an 80' sperm whale. Two rowboats filled with crewmen were launched to capture the monster. Closing in, one harpooner let go his weapon and shafted the whale, which lashed out, almost overturning the boats. Returning to the ship with their dead whale, the crewmen realized one sailor, James Bartley, was missing. It was decided he had been tossed overboard in the fight and had drowned.

Six hours later the crewmen began removing the blubber from the dead beast. By midnight the task was still unfinished, and the sailors went to bed. In the morning, they resumed their job. Then the unexpected happened. According to M. de Parville, editor of the Journal des Debats, writing in Paris in 1914, "Suddenly the sailors were startled by something in the stomach which gave spasmodic signs of life. Inside was found the missing sailor, James Bartley, doubled up and unconscious. He was placed on 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." Recovering, Bartley recalled being hit by the whale's tail and that he had been "encompassed by great darkness, and he felt he was slipping along a smooth passage that seemed to move and carry him forward. His hands came in contact with a yielding, slimy substance, which seemed to shrink from his touch. He could easily breathe, but the heat was terrible. It seemed to open the pores of his skin and draw out his vitality. The next he remembered he was in the captain's cabin."

Except for the fact that his face, neck, hands had been bleached white, Bartley--like Jonah--survived the belly of the monster.

Today, we are all in the belly of the monster, and the monster is everywhere, in hostile environments inside and outside the city, in the system, in government, in business, in technology, in routine. Survival is up to each of us, individually or working together, but the Almanac would like to offer a few hints to help all Bartleys emerge from the belly safely. . . .

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