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'The Son of Man Will Be Three Days and Three Nights in the Heart of the Earth'

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In Matthew 12:38 Matthew 12:38Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from you.
American King James Version×
, some of the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign to prove He was the Messiah. “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you,” they told Him (New International Version).

But Jesus responded that the only sign He would give was that of the prophet Jonah: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (verse 40).

Traditional view doesn't fit

But how can we fit “three days and three nights” between a Friday afternoon crucifixion and entombment just before sundown and a Sunday morning resurrection at sunrise? This traditional view allows for Jesus to have been in the tomb for only a day and a half.

Some believe that Christ's statement that He would be “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” does not require a literal span of 72 hours. They reason that any part of a day can be reckoned as a whole day.

Thus, since Jesus died in the afternoon and was entombed just before sunset, they think the closing few minutes of that Friday constituted the first day, Friday night was the first night, Saturday was the second day, Saturday night was the second night, and a few minutes at dawn on Sunday morning made up the third day.

But where, then, is the third night? Even if a few minutes of daylight late on Friday and another few on Sunday morning constitute “days,” this interpretation fails to explain how only two nights—Friday night and Saturday night—can somehow be the three nights of which Jesus spoke.

In fact, Scripture is plain that Jesus had already risen before Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early Sunday morning, arriving “while it was still dark” (John 20:1-2 John 20:1-2 1 The first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, to the sepulcher, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulcher. 2 Then she runs, and comes to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.
American King James Version×
). So in reality, no parts of Sunday could be counted as a day, as Jesus was already resurrected well before the break of dawn.

Jonah 1:17 Jonah 1:17Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
American King James Version×
, to which Jesus referred, states specifically that “Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” We have no biblical basis for thinking that Jesus meant only two nights and one day, plus part of another day. If Jesus were in the tomb only from late Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning, then the sign He gave that He was the prophesied Messiah was not fulfilled.

So which is it? Is something wrong with Christ's words, or is something wrong with the traditional view of when and how long He was in the tomb?

Let's carefully examine the details from the Gospels. When we do, we uncover the real story of how Jesus' words were fulfilled precisely.

Two Sabbaths mentioned

Notice the sequence of events outlined in Luke 23. Jesus' moment of death, as well as His hasty burial because of the oncoming Sabbath that began at sundown, is narrated in verses 46-53. Verse 54 then states, “That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.”

In Jewish society of that time, heavy cooking and housecleaning were done on the day before a Sabbath in preparation for it. Thus the day before the Sabbath came to be called “the preparation day” or simply “the preparation.” The biblical Sabbath falls on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. According to Bible reckoning, days begin at sunset (Leviticus 23:32 Leviticus 23:32It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.
American King James Version×
; compare Genesis 1:5 Genesis 1:5And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
American King James Version×
, 8, 13), so all weekly Sabbaths start Friday evening at sundown.

Based on these facts, many people have assumed that it is the weekly Sabbath mentioned here, and that Jesus was therefore crucified on a Friday. But two types of “Sabbaths” are mentioned in the Scriptures—the regular weekly Sabbath day, which fell on the seventh day of the week, and seven annual Holy Days (listed in Leviticus 23), Sabbaths that could—and usually did—fall on days of the week other than the regular weekly Sabbath day.

Was the day after Jesus was crucified a weekly Sabbath, or one of these annual Holy Days?

John 19:31 John 19:31The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) sought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
American King James Version×
clearly states that this approaching Sabbath “was a high day.” This term does not refer to the weekly Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset), but in this context to the first day of Unleavened Bread, one of God's annual Holy Days (Exodus 12:16-17 Exodus 12:16-17 16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. 17 And you shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall you observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
American King James Version×
; Leviticus 23:6-7 Leviticus 23:6-7 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein.
American King James Version×
). A number of Bible commentaries, encyclopedias and dictionaries will confirm that John is not referring to the weekly Sabbath here, but rather to one of the annual Sabbaths.

According to the biblical calendar, in that year this high-day Sabbath fell on a Thursday (meaning it began on Wednesday night at sunset). We can confirm this by looking at the details in the Gospel accounts—which show us that two separate Sabbath days are mentioned.

Luke 23:55-56 Luke 23:55-56 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
American King James Version×
tells us that the women, after seeing Christ's body being laid in the tomb just before sundown, “returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils” for the final preparation of the body.

They would not have done such work on a Sabbath day, weekly or annual, since it would have been considered a Sabbath violation. This is verified by Mark's account, which states: “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices [which they could not have purchased on a Sabbath day], that they might come and anoint Him” (Mark 16:1 Mark 16:1And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
American King James Version×
).

The women had to wait until this Sabbath was over before they could buy and prepare the spices to be used for anointing Jesus' body. Then, Luke 23:56 Luke 23:56And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
American King James Version×
tells us that, after purchasing and preparing the spices and oils on Friday, “they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment”—which means they had to have acquired the spices before that Sabbath on which they rested. This second Sabbath mentioned in the Gospel accounts is the regular weekly Sabbath, observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

By comparing details in both Gospels —where Mark tells us the women bought spices after the Sabbath and Luke relates that they prepared the spices before resting on the Sabbath—we can clearly see that two different Sabbaths are being discussed here.

The first, as John 19:31 John 19:31The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) sought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
American King James Version×
tells us, was a “high day”—the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—which, in A.D. 31, fell on a Thursday. The second was the weekly seventh-day Sabbath. (To see these events spelled out day by day, see the chart.)

Sign of the Messiah

After the women rested on the regular weekly Sabbath, they went to Jesus' tomb early on the first day of the week (Sunday), “while it was still dark” (John 20:1 John 20:1The first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, to the sepulcher, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulcher.
American King James Version×
), and found that He had already been resurrected (Matthew 28:1-6 Matthew 28:1-6 1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said to the women, Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
American King James Version×
; Mark 16:2-6 Mark 16:2-6 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he said to them, Be not affrighted: You seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
American King James Version×
; Luke 24:1-3 Luke 24:1-3 1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
American King James Version×
). Jesus was not resurrected at sunrise on Sunday morning. When Mary Magdalene arrived “while it was still dark” she found the stone rolled away and the tomb already empty!

When we consider the details in all four Gospel accounts, the picture is clear. Jesus was crucified and entombed late on Wednesday afternoon, just before a Sabbath began at sunset. However, that was a high-day Sabbath, lasting from Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset that week, rather than the regular weekly Sabbath that lasted from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

Since Jesus was entombed in the late afternoon just before sundown, according to His own words He would have been resurrected at around the same time three days and nights later. He remained in the tomb from Wednesday at sunset until Saturday at sunset, when He rose from the dead. While no one witnessed His resurrection (which took place inside a sealed tomb), to fit His words and the biblical evidence it had to have happened three days and three nights later, near sunset on Saturday.

This time line perfectly accommodates three full nights (Wednesday night, Thursday night and Friday night) and three full daylight periods (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). This is the only time that fits Jesus' own prophecy of how long He would be in the tomb. And, as we have seen, it fits perfectly with all the details recorded in the Gospels.

We can be assured that the entombment period Jesus gave as proof He was the Messiah was exactly the duration He foretold. Because most people do not understand the biblical Holy Days Jesus Christ and His followers kept, they fail to understand the chronological details so accurately preserved for us in the Gospels.

The Chronology of Jesus Christ Death, Burial and Resurrection

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    Comments

  • mahnster

    Great post! I totally agree and hold that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday. And maybe you noted this, but Jesus also didn’t need the stone rolled away from the tomb…even if his new body materialized in the tomb, rather than his mortal body just disappear when he went to the heart of the earth, he didn’t need doors as he proved later…. but rather Mary & Mary et. al. needed to get IN to the heavily sealed tomb that dark Sunday morning…

  • nmmerritt
    Also, John 19:14 John 19:14And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he said to the Jews, Behold your King!
    American King James Version×
    says it all—it was the preparation of the passover…, for those who believe that preparation was before the weekly Sabbath.
  • wordwalker
    I agree with your logic but I believe you may be overlooking the fact that Jesus is not only the Passover but he is also first fruits. 1cor15:20 It is only with Thursday crucifixion that he fulfills this. See timeline at **Link removed to comply with comment policy** He is in the grave Thursday day,Friday day Saturday day. Thursday night, friday night and Saturday night. Resurrection on first day of the week before dawn on the Jewish festival of first fruits. These festivals are known in Hebrew as moeds which means appointments or appointed times. Also known as holy convocation the Hebrew word miqraw meaning rehearsal .
  • LivingMiracle
    Jesus sent the disciples to prepare food and instructed them on a meeting place for the Passover meal. (so this was the eve of the Passover)Matthew 26:17-20 Matthew 26:17-20 17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, Where will you that we prepare for you to eat the passover? 18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The Master said, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at your house with my disciples. 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. 20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.
    American King James Version×
    After Jesus and his disciples were done with the Passover meal, He took bread (unleavened) and broke it and said to them that it was His body which will be given up for you…..etc. Do this in remembrance of Me. Then he took the cup of wine and this is my blood which will be given up for you….etc. Do this in remembrance of Me. Matthew 26:26-28 Matthew 26:26-28 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
    American King James Version×
    . (thus is “The Lord’s Supper”) Jesus had not officially became the “sacrificial lamb” in place of the Passover lamb yet until His death on the cross. (literally speaking-slaughtered lamb)Jewish days went from 6 to 6 instead of 12 to 12 like ours. I don’t think the Sanhedrin would have Jesus arrested until the end of Passover day—the first Sabbath during the feast of unleavened bread week. 1st day of the week was Sat. the Jewish regular weekly Sabbath (2nd Sabbath during Passover week). Mary Magdalene came early in the morning on the first day of the week to Jesus’ tomb. (Saturday) most likely. Jesus entered heaven to the “Holy of Holies” with His own blood. He is the Lamb of God.
  • LivingMiracle
    One thing that confuses me is that the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two criminals and put a spear in the Lord’s side because they wanted them to be dead and not be hanging on the crosses on the Sabbath Jewish holy day(as sometimes men hung for days before death came). The Romans were tolerable of the Sanhedrin. So this could have been either 1 or 2 days before the weekly Sabbath holy day. Things aren’t real clear that way, unless someone can enlighten me a on this. Bless You!
  • Ivan Veller
    Hello wordwalker, “Jesus died and was placed in a tomb just before sundown (Luke 23:50-56 Luke 23:50-56 50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counselor; and he was a good man, and a just: 51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
    American King James Version×
    )—immediately before the beginning of the annual ‘high day’ (John 19:31 John 19:31The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) sought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
    American King James Version×
    ) that commenced the Days of Unleavened Bread, which began at sunset. Three days and three nights later—near sundown on the afternoon of the weekly Sabbath (Saturday)—Jesus was resurrected…Jesus rose from the dead near sunset on the weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread” (Neff 2005): http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/wave-sheaf-how-ancient-ceremony-for… “[T]he sheaf was harvested on Saturday night…It was then waved before and accepted by God on the first day of the week (Sunday) during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:11 Leviticus 23:11And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
    American King James Version×
    )”: http://www.ucg.org/gods-holy-days/wave-sheaf-offering-ceremony-foreshado… “The Mishnah…describes how a messenger would go out and bind the standing stalks of grain into sheaves so that it would be easy to cut. The priest, followed by his entourage, would come to the field, sickle in hand, and ask, ‘Is the sun set?’, to which the people would answer, ‘Yes!!’” (Lane 2004, “The Wave Sheaf Offering,” Living The Way).
  • Ivan Veller
    Technically, as a ‘general rule,’ “The entire night” of any rite would have been considered “valid for reaping” (Megillah 2:6, “The Mishnah: A New Integrated Translation and Commentary” 2008). See also Menahoth 10:9, Talmud. (Verse references courtesy of ICG-AU, “Omer”.) Traditionally, however, “the sheaf was reaped from the field as the Sabbath ended and [night] began. This is the period of the day called ben ha arbayim. It was the time at dusk when one day was ending and the other was beginning. We know this from the Mishna…which says: ‘Rabbi Hananiah, prefect of the priests, says it (meaning the barley sheaf] was reaped on the Sabbath. He [that is, the priest] says to them, ‘Shall I reap on this Sabbath?’ And they [a kind of chorus that had gathered around: the other priests, the Levites, and other spectators] shall say, ‘Yes.’ He repeated this three times. ‘Shall I reap on this Sabbath?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Shall I reap on this Sabbath?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Shall I reap on this Sabbath?’ ‘Yes!’” (Rightenbaugh, “Wave Sheaf,” Forerunner Commentary). Neusner (2001), in “A Theological Commentary to the Midrash: Pesiqta de rab Kahana” (Vol. 1), p. 85, originates the above citation to M. Menahot 6:3.
  • Ivan Veller
    Source text verified: Accessed via Halakhah’s online Soncino “Babylonian Talmud,” Seder Kodashim (Holy Things), Menahoth, section 65a (PDF p. 231). Footnote reiterates: “(10) On the Sabbath.” “The priest then cut off a standing stalk of grain, then took it to be prepared for the offering the next morning” (Lane 2004). “Any work which can be done on the eve of the Sabbath does not override the Sabbath…Let it be reaped on the eve of the Sabbath!…[Alternatively, if ‘reaping’ is considered ‘harvesting’ work] it does override the Sabbath…[but permissibly so, like other religious duties for which priests] did not wait until nightfall [to perform]…[Footnote:] (11) The reaping of the ‘Omer may be performed on a Sabbath, i.e., when the first day of the Passover fell on a Friday” (Halakhah, Soncino “Babylonian Talmud,” section 72a, PDF p. 258). “Pharisees and Sadducees disagreed on the date for…the wave sheaf offering”: http://members.ucg.org/papers/otpassover.pdf “The Sadducees offered the Sheaf on the Sunday inside the Passover week”: http://www.ucg.org/holidays-and-holy-days/counting-pentecost-when-first-…
  • Ivan Veller
    “In [a] Good News [article] entitled ‘The Wavesheaf Ritual – Proof of Christ and the Bible’ [June 1975,] Lawson C. Briggs wrote, ‘In the time of Jesus the wavesheaf was offered on the Sunday during Passover week…the priests – who were mostly Sadducees – were in charge of the Temple and all the Temple ceremony (Acts 4:1-6 Acts 4:1-6 1 And as they spoke to the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came on them, 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold to the next day: for it was now eventide. 4 However, many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. 5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
    American King James Version×
    ; 5:17)…The wave sheaf had been chosen in advance, as Christ was. It was tied in a bundle, symbolizing His captivity. It was cut loose from the ground just at sunset – just the time at which Christ rose from the dead…The cutting of the grain symbolized Christ’s actual resurrection’” (Lane 2004). “[A]t the end of the Sabbath, at dusk, the priests put the sickle to the grain, as it says in Deuteronomy 16:9 Deuteronomy 16:9Seven weeks shall you number to you: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as you begin to put the sickle to the corn.
    American King James Version×
    ” (“Wave Sheaf,” Forerunner Commentary). “‘[T]he resurrection occurred…Saturday night, when the wave sheaf was cut…It was a rule that it should be reaped by night, at the very beginning minutes, so there would be no delay in preparing it, and then the next morning it was to be waved. The resurrection occurred when the wave sheaf was cut, [and the] ascension occurred when it was waved before the altar’ (Herman Hoeh, Pasadena Bible Study, June 9, 1978)” (Lane 2004).
  • Ivan Veller
    “The wave-sheaf offering represented Jesus Christ…the ‘firstborn from the dead’”: http://www.ucg.org/booklet/gods-holy-day-plan-promise-hope-all-mankind/f… The Scriptures likens God “to a farmer who patiently tends His crop, waiting for the right time to harvest”: http://www.ucg.org/gods-holy-days/gods-harvest-feasts-his-assurance-hope… “This spring harvest period is symbolic of all of those who are being called and prepared for entering the Kingdom of God. They are the additional ‘firstfruits’ that God is calling to salvation at this time…[Romans 8:23 Romans 8:23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
    American King James Version×
    ]. The richness of meaning found in the festivals of Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost far exceed the imagined meaning of the Easter sunrise service” (Neff 2005). “God’s seven biblical festivals are contained within the three major harvest seasons…These three festivals symbolically portray humanity’s salvation in successive stages. Each stage involves greater numbers than its predecessor…[culminating] when…billions who never had their opportunity for salvation will finally receive it”! http://www.ucg.org/gods-holy-days/gods-harvest-feasts-his-assurance-hope…
  • Searching Truth
    To Living Miracle„I dont think theres a problem with John 19:31 John 19:31The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) sought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
    American King James Version×
    ..Its states ,for that Sabbath was a High Day..There talking about the Holy passover Day,Not the weekly Sabbath..If you read on,It says that they came to Jesus by night and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes„about a hundred pounds in weight,to prepare his dead body..Now they would have never done that if it was the weekly Sabbath ,Its GOT to be talking here about the passover or High sabbath night…Nicodemus had to be carrying the load since it was about a hundred pounds….
  • Searching Truth
    The First Day of the week is Sunday,In any time frame…Starts at Saturday at sunset and end Sunday at sunset.It use to be on every calender that was produced„It still is on some but not like years ago…Dont understand the comment made about Saturday being the first day of the week…….God bless everyone who is searching for truth!!I need you guys prayers…and I,ll give mine to you…
  • bluestareagle5
    I wonder why it seems Christians seem to insist Jesus died on a Friday when the bible doesn’t mention that. Sometimes I thing we cause more problems for ourselves by making assumptions. As an example I got into a debate earlier today with a Muslim who shared a you tube video of a man attempting to disprove Christ died on the cross because Christian insist Jesus died on a Friday. Well your article does fit into what the bible does say about the crucifixion of Jesus and for this I am glad.
  • angelbandit
    Scripture does not tell us as to whether the first day was a Friday. Also, in Matthew 12:40 Matthew 12:40For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
    American King James Version×
    Christ does not say that he would be in the tomb for three days and three nights. He used the words ‘heart of the earth’.
  • Ivan Veller
    Hi angelbandit, Jonah, whose experience typified Christ’s burial, was swallowed by and entombed in the ‘heart’ of Sheol for 3 full days and nights. He prayed: “‘out of the belly of Sheol [that swallowed me] I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas…the roots of the mountains” (Jonah 2:2 Jonah 2:2And said, I cried by reason of my affliction to the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and you heard my voice.
    American King James Version×
    b-3,6a, ESV 2011). When “the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram” (Psalms 106:17 Psalms 106:17The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan and covered the company of Abiram.
    American King James Version×
    ), they literally went to their graves—“‘go[ing] down alive into Sheol’” (Nm. 16:30). David’s imprecatory prayers (to Him who “avenges blood”) plead for “justice” and rescue “from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death” (Psalms 9:7 Psalms 9:7But the LORD shall endure for ever: he has prepared his throne for judgment.
    American King James Version×
    ,12-13): “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away…from the…violence…and iniquity…[stealing lives, they “would have swallowed us up alive…We have escaped like a bird” (Psalms 124:3 Psalms 124:3Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:
    American King James Version×
    ,7)] Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive (Psalms 55:6-15 Psalms 55:6-15 6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. 7 See, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. 8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest. 9 Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city. 10 Day and night they go about it on the walls thereof: mischief also and sorrow are in the middle of it. 11 Wickedness is in the middle thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets. 12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But it was you, a man my equal, my guide, and my acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company. 15 Let death seize on them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
    American King James Version×
    )—“those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth” (Psalms 63:9 Psalms 63:9But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
    American King James Version×
    ). By contrast, others “drew near to the gates of death…[but God] healed them, and delivered them from their destruction” (Psalms 107:18-20 Psalms 107:18-20 18 Their soul abhors all manner of meat; and they draw near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cry to the LORD in their trouble, and he saves them out of their distresses. 20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
    American King James Version×
    ESV).
  • Ivan Veller
    “If I make my bed in Sheol…If I take the wings of the morning [c.f. “I will awaken the dawn” (Psalms 57:8 Psalms 57:8Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
    American King James Version×
    ; 108:2 ESV)]…even the darkness is not dark to you… For…you knitted me together in my mother’s womb… when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth” (Psalms 139:8 Psalms 139:8If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there.
    American King James Version×
    b-15). [Also see: ““wings…mercy seat” (Ex. 37:9), “wings…refuge…redeemer’” (Ruth 2:12 Ruth 2:12The LORD recompense your work, and a full reward be given you of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you are come to trust.
    American King James Version×
    ; 3:9), “Keep me…hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalms 17:8 Psalms 17:8Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of your wings,
    American King James Version×
    ), “precious…steadfast love…refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psalms 36:7 Psalms 36:7How excellent is your loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings.
    American King James Version×
    ), “merciful…refuge…in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge” (Psalms 57:1 Psalms 57:1Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me: for my soul trusts in you: yes, in the shadow of your wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be over.
    American King James Version×
    ), “chicks…wings” (Luke 13:34 Luke 13:34O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kill the prophets, and stone them that are sent to you; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and you would not!
    American King James Version×
    NIV).] “If I ascend to heaven…[vs.] depths of the earth” (Psalms 139:8 Psalms 139:8If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there.
    American King James Version×
    a) can refer to caving, climbing (soaring), or sailing range: “Mortals search out the farthest recesses for ore in the blackest darkness…No bird of prey knows that hidden path…[to] the roots of the mountains” (Job 28:3-9 Job 28:3-9 3 He sets an end to darkness, and searches out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death. 4 The flood breaks out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men. 5 As for the earth, out of it comes bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire. 6 The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it has dust of gold. 7 There is a path which no fowl knows, and which the vulture’s eye has not seen: 8 The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. 9 He puts forth his hand on the rock; he overturns the mountains by the roots.
    American King James Version×
    , NIV 2011). “In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also” (Psalms 95:4 Psalms 95:4In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.
    American King James Version×
    ESV)—his are “the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea” (Psalms 8:8 Psalms 8:8The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
    American King James Version×
    ). Storm-tossed sailors on the high seas “mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths” (Psalms 107:26 Psalms 107:26They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
    American King James Version×
    ).
  • Ivan Veller
    Hi again angelbandit, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge…A thousand may fall…but…[God will be] refuge…deliver[ance]…protect[ion]…rescue…[and] salvation” (Psalms 91:4-17 Psalms 91:4-17 4 He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust: his truth shall be your shield and buckler. 5 You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. 8 Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, your habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. 11 For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 12 They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13 You shall tread on the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shall you trample under feet. 14 Because he has set his love on me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he has known my name. 15 He shall call on me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
    American King James Version×
    ESV). David (cf. 2 Samuel 23:15-17 2 Samuel 23:15-17 15 And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! 16 And the three mighty men broke through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out to the LORD. 17 And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.
    American King James Version×
    ?) reflects: “my soul thirsts for you…faints for you…weary…no water…[but] your steadfast love is better than life [itself]…[A]s long as I live…[m]y soul will be satisfied… when I remember you upon my bed…[at] night” – as, presumably, even on his future deathbed as night closes over him – “for…in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds [cf. “embraces” (Son. 2:6)] me. But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths [‘heart’] of the earth” (Psalms 63:1-9 Psalms 63:1-9 1 O God, you are my God; early will I seek you: my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see your power and your glory, so as I have seen you in the sanctuary. 3 Because your loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you. 4 Thus will I bless you while I live: I will lift up my hands in your name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips: 6 When I remember you on my bed, and meditate on you in the night watches. 7 Because you have been my help, therefore in the shadow of your wings will I rejoice. 8 My soul follows hard after you: your right hand upholds me. 9 But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
    American King James Version×
    ). God “…will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up…his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:2-3 Hosea 6:2-3 2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. 3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth.
    American King James Version×
    ESV)—raising to new life. We find metaphor for resurrection: “You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths [‘heart’] of the earth you will bring me up again…my soul…you have redeemed” (Psalms 71:20-23 Psalms 71:20-23 20 You, which have showed me great and sore troubles, shall quicken me again, and shall bring me up again from the depths of the earth. 21 You shall increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side. 22 I will also praise you with the psaltery, even your truth, O my God: to you will I sing with the harp, O you Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to you; and my soul, which you have redeemed.
    American King James Version×
    ).

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