Fishing in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
fish'-ing (halieuo): Several methods of securing fish are
resorted to at the present day along the seashores of
Israel. Two of these, dynamiting and poisoning with the
juice of cyclamen bulbs or other poisonous plants, can be
passed over as havi ng no bearing on ancient methods.
(1) With Hooks:
Some fishing is done with hooks and lines, either on poles
when fishing from shore, or on trawls in deep-sea fishing.
The fishhooks now used are of European origin, but bronze
fishhooks of a very early date have been discovered. That
fishing with hooks was known in Jesus' time is indicated by
the Master's command to Peter (Mt 17:27).
(2) With Spears:
Job 41:7 probably refers to an instrument much like the
barbed spear still used along the Syrian coast. It is used
at night by torchlight.
(3) With Nets:
In the most familiar Bible stories of fisherman life a net
was used. Today most of the fishing is done in the same way.
These nets are homemade. Frequently one sees the fishermen
or members of their families making nets or repairing old
ones during the stormy days when fishing is impossible.
Nets are used in three ways: (a) A circular net, with small
meshes and leaded around the edge, is cast from the shore
into the shallow water in such a manner that the leaded edge
forms the base of a cone, the apex being formed by the
fisherman holding the center of the net in his hand. The
cone thus formed encloses such fish as cannot escape the
quick throw of the fisher. (b) A long net or seine of one or
two fathoms depth, leaded on one edge and provided with
floats on the other, is payed out from boats in such a way
as to surround a school of fish. Long ropes fastened to the
two ends are carried ashore many yards apart, and from five
to ten men on each rope gradually draw in the net. The fish
are then landed from the shallow water with small nets or by
hand. This method is commonly practiced on the shore of the
Sea of Galilee. (c) In deeper waters a net similar to that
described above, but four or five fathoms deep, is cast from
boats and the ends slowly brought together so as to form a
circle. Men then dive down and bring one portion of the
weighted edge over under the rest, so as to form a bottom.
The compass of the net is then narrowed, and the fish are
emptied from the net into the boat. Sometimes the net with
the fish enclosed is towed into shallow water before
drawing. The above method is probably the one the disciples
used (Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16; Lk 5:2-10; Jn 21:3-11). Portions of
nets with leads and floats, of early Egyptian origin, may be
seen in the British Museum.
The fishermen today usually work with their garments girdled
up about their waists. Frequently they wear only a loose
outer garment which is wet much of the time. This garment
can be quickly removed by pulling it over the head, When
occasion requires the fisherman to jump into the sea. If
methods have not changed, Peter had probably just climbed
back into the boat after adjusting the net for drawing when
he learned that it was Jesus who stood on the shore. He was
literally naked and pulled on his coat before he went ashore
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