Solomon says oh God, you are so annoying, who the hell cares whether whales have tiny little hairs or not.In fact, the only thing Solomon cares about is whether responsibilities for his kingdom’s production of blubber and whale oil should go under his Ministry of Dag or Ministry of Behemah.Indeed, it might even be that if you spent ten years teaching Solomon all about the theory of genetics and evolution (which would be hilarious – think how annoyed the creationists would get) he might still say “That’s very interesting, and I can see why we need a word to describe creatures closely related along the phylogenetic tree, but make up your own word, because behemah already means ‘four-legged-land-dweller’.” Now imagine that instead of talking to King Solomon, you’re talking to that guy from Duck Dynasty with the really crazy beard (I realize that may describe more than one person), who stands in for all uneducated rednecks in the same way King Solomon stands in for all Biblical Hebrews.“Ah course a whale is a feesh, ya moron” he says in his heavy Southern accent. “A fish is a creature phylogenetically related to various other fish, and with certain defining anatomical features.
The Ministry of Behemah has a strong presence inland and lots of of people who hunt on horseback.
So the Bible seems to think whales are just big fish. For all we know, Jonah was swallowed by a really really really big herring.
The second problem is that if the ancient Hebrews want to call whales a kind of fish, let them call whales a kind of fish.
If God wants to call a whale a big fish, stop telling God what to do. When terms are not defined directly by God, we need our own methods of dividing them into categories.
The essay “How An Algorithm Feels From The Inside” is a gift that keeps on giving.