I recently heard some scholars attempt to date Jonah as a later (and hence fictional) work. Is it correct to assume that traditional Judaism considers Jonah to be a historical and accurate account of the real prophet described in the book of 2 Kings 14:25?

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    Who cares? Traditional Judaism definitely considers it to be Meaningful, Serious, and Significant.
    – Double AA
    Nov 2, 2015 at 2:33
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    The 'Who cares?' question is a different question and is a little more subjective. Just to clarify, this question is about gathering information information (i.e. is it held by Jewish groups to be historical), rather than wanting to discuss the implications and relevance of such a question. (Although that would certainly be an interesting question as well)
    – Jay
    Nov 2, 2015 at 4:10
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    @Jacob when people ask you who cares, ask them if they believe the exodus happened or creation, or if they are simply Meaningful Serious and Significant.
    – user6591
    Nov 2, 2015 at 12:30
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    @Double their indifference to the fundamentals of the Jewish religion.
    – user6591
    Nov 2, 2015 at 13:51
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    @Jacob, are you asking about a person who went to Ninvei and motivated the people to Teshuva, or are you asking about a person who got swallowed by a sea-creature, survived for three days, and was regurgitated alive? It is theoretically possible to believe the former while believing the latter was part of a dream in the story, for example.
    – Yishai
    Nov 2, 2015 at 14:13

1 Answer 1


Mikra (the TaNaCh), as opposed to Aggadaic Medrashim and Talmudic passages, are not allegories. Even when the verse is hinting a lesson, we learn that אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו, the verse does not abandon its simple meaning.

There are a few exceptions, though. Firstly, there is such a thing as exaggerations when that is a manner of speaking. A famous example of this is the cities that reach the sky. This is an obvious figure of speech being employed. It 's not like something we'd read at face value, only to find out it never happened.

Another possible exception is the book of Iyov. There is one opinion in the Gemara that Iyov never existed. However, this opinion was rejected because his name and location are given, which makes it read not like an allegory. So here too, we see that we won't interpret an innocent verse as a lesson without a literal truth.

In fact, the reason we interpret Talmudic passages as allegories is because they are also a figure of speech. It is not TaNach so it is less careful and it employs figurative speech, exaggerations and allegorical stories. These become obvious once you tune in.

The prophet Yona is counted as one of the 48 prophets.

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