Can someone point me to a OT prophecy about the Messiah being in the tomb for 3 days? As general or specific as you can think of. I think I have one, and it seems pretty obvious to me, but a lot of Bible commentators don't mention it.


Old Testament prophecies are sometimes 'thematic', by 'type' or 'metaphor' as in the case of these three days. There are various places in the Old Testament that give special meaning to three days. The gospels however only refer to the prophecy of Jonah. Christ said that Jonah would be the 'sign' that God would give the Jews, as a rebuke for their obstinacy. (Math 12:39-40). As Jonah was buried in a watery death for three days, then spit out and believed upon by Gentiles, so would Christ be buried in the belly of the earth and spit out miraculously to be believed on by the Romans and Greeks.

Beyond this single prophecy, there does seem to be more in the Bible and in rabbinic history that enshrines a three-day significance. The main idea seems to stem from Abraham arriving at Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son, on the third-day (Gen 22:4). This is another resurrection image no doubt. The idea is that Isaac was good for dead all three days until God provided a ram in his place. From this the third day, there seems to have become some concepts of a third day resurrection, further supported by Hosea 6:2. Notice though that Rabbi's often differed among themselves, just as we do with Revelation, so the three days in Hosea 6:2 was interpreted by some as 3000 years.

Despite the differing historical interpretations by the Rabbis, it cannot be denied that this three-day-theme existed before Christ. Still the bottom line is that in the New Testament Christ's reference to Jonah is enough to fully satisfy the statement that Chris was raised on the third day 'according to the scriptures' (I Cor 15:3-4) The Old Testament three day theme is mostly of supplemental interest.

For a deeper analysis on the three day theme, there is an excellent little article by Michael Brown at JewishRoots.net here.

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  • Yes Hosea was what I was referring to, I can see the theme of 3 days other places, but for prophecy specifically in the terms I think most people will think of it, Hosea 6:2 seems to be the only OT prophecy that deals with it. And according to that article, early christians felt that Hosea was clear about that too. Thanks for the link, I'll probably be back there often, I've been studying hebrew and Judaism lately. God Bless! – 2tim424 Jun 11 '12 at 9:17

There is also the foreshadowing in the book of Esther. When Haman maneuvered the decree to kill the Jews, it was Nissan 14 (the day Jesus was sacrificed,) Esther told the Jews to fast for three days with her before she went to the King. No food or water, a fast to the death. On the third day, she went to the king and their deliverance came.

There is another tie in with Esther in that Herod the Great died on Purim in 4 B.C shortly after commanding the murder of the innocents. Some sources say that it was done at the same time he commanded the murder of his oldest son, which was 5 days before his own death.

Purim was the day chosen by lot by Haman for the annihilation of the Jews and they continue to observe the date and celebrate God's deliverance.

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    Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. I don't see a connection in the second and third paragraphs. Can you expand on that and edit this post please? I hope to see you post again soon. – fгedsbend Nov 11 '14 at 4:44
  • @carla - See also 1 Samuel 30:1, 1 Samuel 30:12,13. David is at a very low point in his life, and obtains deliverance from an unexpected source - a nearly dead man, a despised and rejected suffering servant, is resusitated after "three days and three nights" and enables David to gain victory over his enemies, so that nothing is lost that was taken. In the end, the Devil shall have gained nothing from the children of God, and all of them shall be saved. – Andrew Shanks Jul 8 '19 at 11:00

The only prophecy specifically stating that Messiah would be "dead" for three days, came from Jesus himself, shortly before his passion, when he began to reveal to his disciples what was to befall him. There are many, many specific prophecies in the OT about the Messiah, but none that state how long he would be in the grave. If memory serves. Doubtless some or all of the three-day periods were foreshadowings, but that will have been all they were.

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  • Welcome to the site. As you're a new visitor, I'd like to recommend the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page, How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? – MR. TOODLE-OO'D Mar 26 '15 at 17:01
  • Mr B, I've just read your links, and quite a few of the links within them. Let's see if I've got this straight. The last sentence of my answer above would be less acceptable, the rest more so, as it specifically references clear-cut statements that either are or are or are not contained in the text of the old testament. The last sentence is more my personal take on certain passages mentioned by other answerers. Please set me straight if I'm still not "getting it". – Werner Maurer Mar 27 '15 at 20:40

My favorite is Exodus 19 when God tells Moses be ready for the third day. FOUR TIMES in one chapter. Moses name means "to be drawn out of the water" representing all born again believers. At the end of the chapter it says (paraphrasing) "When the Lord came down, Moses went up" A picture of Christ coming down on the third 1000 year day. 2015 two days past, we are going into the third day. When he comes down we go up.

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  • Since when is a day a thousand years? A prophetic day is almost always interpreted as a single year. – fгedsbend Jun 13 '15 at 15:30
  • This answer would be better if you could provide references for who teaches/believes this. Remember, this site isn't for personal opinion, but for academic Q&A. – MR. TOODLE-OO'D Jun 15 '15 at 16:07

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