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fish Summary and Overview

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fish in Easton's Bible Dictionary

called "dag" by the Hebrews, a word denoting great fecundity (Gen. 9:2; Num. 11:22; Jonah 2:1, 10). No fish is mentioned by name either in the Old or in the New Testament. Fish abounded in the Mediterranean and in the lakes of the Jordan, so that the Hebrews were no doubt acquainted with many species. Two of the villages on the shores of the Sea of Galilee derived their names from their fisheries, Bethsaida (the "house of fish") on the east and on the west. There is probably no other sheet of water in the world of equal dimensions that contains such a variety and profusion of fish. About thirty-seven different kinds have been found. Some of the fishes are of a European type, such as the roach, the barbel, and the blenny; others are markedly African and tropical, such as the eel-like silurus. There was a regular fish-market apparently in Jerusalem (2 Chr. 33:14; Neh. 3:3; 12:39; Zeph. 1:10), as there was a fish-gate which was probably contiguous to it. Sidon is the oldest fishing establishment known in history.

fish in Smith's Bible Dictionary

The Hebrews recognized fish as one of the great divisions of the animal kingdom, and as such gave them a place in the account of the creation, #Ge 1:21,28| as well as in other passages where an exhaustive description of living creatures is intended. #Ge 9:2; Ex 20:4; De 4:18; 1Ki 4:33| The Mosaic law, #Le 11:9,10| pronounced unclean such fish as were devoid of fins and scales; these were and are regarded as unwholesome in Egypt. Among the Philistines Dagon was represented by a figure half man and half fish. #1Sa 5:4| On this account the worship of fish is expressly prohibited. #De 4:18| In Israel, the Sea of Galilee was and still is remarkable well stored with fish. (Tristram speaks of fourteen species found there, and thinks the number inhabiting it at least three times as great.) Jerusalem derived its supply chiefly from the Mediterranean. Comp. #Eze 47:10| The existence of a regular fish-market is implied in the notice of the fish-gate, which was probably contiguous to it. #2Ch 33:14; Ne 3:3; 12:39; Zep 1:10| The Orientals are exceedingly fond of fish as an article of diet. Numerous allusions to the art of fishing occur in the Bible. The most usual method of catching fish was by the use of the net, either the casting net, #Eze 26:5,14; 47:10|; Habb 1:15 probably resembling the one used in Egypt, as shown in Wilkinson (iii. 55), or the draw or drag net, #Isa 19:8|; Habb 1:15 which was larger, and required the use of a boat. The latter was probably most used on the Sea of Galilee, as the number of boats kept on it was very considerable.

fish in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

FISH . The rapid multiplication of fish finds recognition in the root-meaning of their Hebrew name, "to increase." See also Gen 48:16, margin. They are mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis (Gen 1:20,Gen 1:26,Gen 1:28) and in Ps 8:8 as one of the chief classes of living creatures, and as placed under the dominion of man. In the Law, Lev 11:9-12, distinction of them is made into clean and unclean, according as they have fins and scales or are without them. Of the numerous species of fish which inhabit the lakes and rivers of Palestine and the adjacent sea, Solomon possessed some knowledge, 1 Kgs 4:33, but not a single variety has its name recorded in the Bible. (The whale is not a fish!) An aggravation of the first plague of Egypt was the destruction of fish -an important part of the food of the people. In the wilderness the Israelites murmured for the fish of their old home. Num 11:5. It was a sad prophecy for Egypt that by the failing of her waters the fishermen should mourn, and that they should be disappointed who make ponds and sluices for fish. Isa 19:5-10; comp. Eze 29:4-10. Most of the still and running waters of Palestine swarm with fish. Josephus first called attention to the similarity of the fish of the Sea of Galilee and those of the Nile. Of those in the former water Tristram says: the density of the shoals "can scarcely be conceived by those who have not witnessed them. Frequently these shoals cover an acre or more of the surface, and the fish, as they slowly move along in masses, are so crowded, with their back-fins, just appearing on the level of the water, that the appearance at a little distance is that of a violent shower of rain pattering on the surface. We obtained 14 species of fishes in the lake, and probably the number inhabiting it is at least three times as great." But not all of these fish of Galilee are savory eating. Matt 13:47-48. On * Fishes of the Sea of Galilee. (After Tristram.) 1. Chromis Nilotica. 2. Clarias Macracanthus. 3. Labeobarbus Canis. this lake four of the disciples toiled as fishermen. Matt 4:18-21, References to the "fish-gate," 2 Chr 33:14, etc., of Jerusalem show that the city was probably supplied with a market for this kind of food. The product of the Mediterranean was doubtless then, as now, brought from Joppa, the port of Jerusalem. The Phoenicians were especially engaged in the capture and sale of fish, Eze 26:5,Eze 26:14; Neh 13:16, and the Hebrew name, Zidon, signifies "fishing." The fish was frequently worshipped from Egypt to Assyria and India. Deut 4:18. Dagon, the Philistine idol, 1 Sam 5:4, was half fish, half man. On early Christian monuments, especially in the Catacombs of Rome, the fish itself or its Greek name was often carved, because that name, ichthus, is formed of the first letters of the confession: "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour." Fish are often carried by the Jordan and smaller streams into the Dead Sea, but soon perish in its acrid element. In the mystical vision of Ezekiel waters were seen issuing from under the house of God, carrying fertility along the Kedron valley, and pouring into this sea of death, whose waters were healed: "and it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many." Eze 47:1-10. "Fish is an article of diet of which the Orientals are passionately fond. It brings a high price, unless some extraordinary haul has exceptionally cheapened the market. The government derives a considerable revenue from the tax on fish sold in the market. Every beach on the sea-coast of Syria is enlivened with trawling-nets and cast-nets and fishing-boats, and fishermen, standing often knee-deep or waist-deep, casting their pole-lines into the surf. Fish swarm in the warm water of this latitude, and every variety, even to dog-fish and octopods, are greedily eaten. The word 'smack' or 'boat' would better express the kind of craft in which the great draught of fishes was caught, Luke 6:2." -- Dr. Post, of Beirut.