Paleo-Hebrew inscription of Jonah and the fish

Prof. James H. Charlesworth of Princeton Theological Seminary has just announced a rather startling observation regarding an inscription on an ossuary discovered in Jerusalem that appears to be a stick figure of a man and a fish. Charlesworth argues that the stick figure contains four letters in paleo-Hebrew that spell out the name YONAH (Jonah) —Yod, Vav, Nun, Heh.

If Prof. Charlesworth is right, then the ossuary depicts Jonah being vomited out of the mouth of the fish. “Most likely,” says Charlesworth, “we may comprehend the inscription as reading ‘Jonah.’ And I have no doubt it is a fish.”

James Tabor has posted photographs on his blog, which highlight the possible Hebrew characters.

3 comments on “Paleo-Hebrew inscription of Jonah and the fish

  1. robjhyndman says:

    Hi Steve. See for a summary of the considerable evidence against this interpretation. As far as I can tell, no scholar believes this is a fish except for Charlesworth, Tabor and Jacobovici.

  2. robjhyndman says:

    More discussion now at

  3. Luke Shields says:

    i don’t really see the fish. but it wouldn’t surprise me if Jonah is a story such as Job

Comments are closed.