The whale is mentioned in the first chapter of the Bible, 21st verse.
"And God created great whales." Some suppose that large fish of every
kind are here meant.
An animal called the leviathan is described in one of the last chapters
of Job, which some suppose to be the whale. It certainly means a large
and strong animal, as you will see by the questions asked about him:
"Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook ? or his tongue with a cord
which thou lettest down? Canst thou put a hook in his nose ? or bore
his jaw through with a thorn? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird?
When he raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid. The arrow cannot
make him flee; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear; he maketh the deep
to boil like a pot; one would think the deep to be hoary." This is like
the whale in some things; but you will remember that it is not certain
that he is meant.
The common whale for which so many sailors are always seeking on the
great ocean, is an enormous animal. It is often found seventy feet
long; and it is said that they have been found of the length of a
hundred feet. If you do not know how long this would be, you will do
well to ask some friend to tell you of a building or something else with
which you can compare it; for it is not very likely that you will ever
see the whale itself, and its size is very wonderful. It is covered
with a coat of fat, sometimes more than a yard thick; and when this is
cut up and put over fires in great kettles, a hundred barrels of oil are
sometimes obtained from a single whale.
Perhaps you already know how they take the whale. As soon as the
sailors see one, they go towards him in a boat until they get as near to
him as they dare. Then they throw their harpoons at him; these are
sharp-pointed irons, fastened to a very long rope, one end of which they
keep in the boat. As soon as the whale is wounded, he dives down into
the water, and swims away to some distance. He is usually obliged to
come up again in about half an hour to breathe, for he cannot live all
the while under water; and then the men throw other harpoons at him.
Sometimes he comes so near as to upset the boat with a blow of his
strong tail. The picture shows you a scene of this kind, where the boat
was tossed into the air, the men thrown out, and one of them drowned.