To be sure this is highly unlikely. Fish do not use air and human beings cannot live for three days without air. Whales use air, but could they swallow someone whole? There is a story from the early 1900s of a sailor being swallowed by a sperm whale and even surviving the experience. Sperm whales do feed on large fish and octopuses. But both stories are still highly unlikely because the whale’s stomach does not hold air to breath and any gases in the stomach are most likely methane and unbreathable. But unlikely things happen all the time. It is conceivable, however unlikely, that a whale with some sort of illness might have air trapped in its stomach. So I will not rule out the possibility of this being true, but I would rank the book of Johah second after the book of Job with the short list of books in the Bible that are most likely homiletic rather than historical. I personally do not put the book of Genesis on that list, for I consider it to have an historical intent for the most part.
It does not sound like that to me at all. It reminds to me of the many times I have referred to characters and stories in books and movies to illustrate a point even though they are completely fictional. Here is a couple of examples…
- I frequently refer to the scene in “The Silver Chair” by C.S. Lewis with Jill confronting Aslan when she is thirsty, to illustrate the proper role of a fear of God.
- I sometimes refer to the cowardice with which people cater to Voldemort in the Harry Potter books to illustrate how people make a virtue out cowardice in an improper fear of a god who has a character and behavior more like the devil or a mafia godfather.
In neither case is there any implication that the events and characters in these stories are people who really existed or things which have actually happened.