Attention Intelligent Christian Dopers! A question about the "Sign of Jonah" that...

is mentioned by Jesus. I am interested in the phrase, “three days and three nights”, since Jesus was only in the earth for three days and two nights(Friday day and night, Saturday day and night, and Sunday day.

Matthew 12:39-42
But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; or just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
I fully understand that Friday counts as a day becuase of the Jewish system of time, I just don’t get the idea of three nights? Any clue on this?

The answers:

  1. It doesn’t add up; you’re right.
  2. Matthew was a nut for OT references. He was constantly finding the most improbable sources for Messianic prophecies (at least in his estimation). E.g., Joseph took Mary and the Baby Jesus and fled from Herod, into Egypt. Why? Because one of the prophets said, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Hello!? If that’s not a reference to Moses and the Exodus, I’m the Queen of Romania! But Matthew gets off on finding this sort of stuff. So he attributes this reference to Jonah to Jesus. (Jesus may very well have spoken of Jonah – there’s a lot in that book that would have appealed to his understanding of human nature faced with God’s expectations. And, being at least vaguely aware he was likely to have to go through with the Crucifixion, he might have quoted the relevant passage. But Matthew is simply running “three days and three nights” into “risen on the third day” and hoping nobody catches the bad math, just to make a strained prophecy fit.

YMMV, of course.