Manners & Customs: Fishing
Fishing in the Ancient World
Angling. It is not thought probable that the disciples in Galilee used this method of fishing very extensively. That it was use on occasions is seen from the account of Peter's catching a fish with a hook and discovering the coin in its mouth with which he paid the temple tax (Matthew 17:27). Isaiah speaks of it in connection with fishing in the streams: "The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament" (Isaiah 19:8). Amos makes reference to this type of fishing when he says, "He will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks" (Amos 4:2). The excavation at the mound of Gezer brought to light an actual fishhook, indicating the ancient use of the angling method of fishing. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The cast net or handnet. Two of the disciples were busy with such a net when JESUS called them to be fishers of men. "Now as he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men" (Mark 1:16, 17). This sort of net is in circular form about fifteen feet in diameter, with fine meshes. Around the edge it has lead sinkers. A long piece of line is attached to the center of the net. This line is held by the left hand, and the net is gathered up in the right hand, and is cast with a broad sweep of that arm over shallow water near the shore wherever a shoal of fish is observed to be. The middle of the net is then drawn by the cord, and the fisherman is able to wade into the water to get what he has caught. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The dragnet or drawnet. JESUS used this sort of fishing as the basis for one of his parables. "Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away" (Matthew 13:47, 48). This net is a long one, sometimes hundreds of feet in length and about eight feet broad. Ropes are furnished the ends of the net. Corks are attached along one of the long sides of the net to keep it buoyed up, whereas the other long side has lead sinkers attached to it to make it sink. Sometimes the net is set between two boats in the sea, being stretched between them. The boats are rowed so as to enclose a circular space and when the boats meet, then the net is hauled into the boats, the circle becoming smaller. The bottom rope is pulled in faster than the top one and thus the fish are enclosed in a bag and are pulled into the boats. Sometimes the net is set and then drawn from the land. The one end is then taken as far as possible by a boat seaward. Then this boat brings that end of the net around with a sweep to the place of starting, where men use the same method of pulling in the nets and landing the fish. Again, two boats sometimes stretch the net between them at a distance from shore, and then they will sweep in to the shore, forcing the fish to come with them. There must be no rocky obstructions for this method to be successful. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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
name either in the Old or in the New Testament. Fish
the Mediterranean and in the lakes of the Jordan, so
Hebrews were no doubt acquainted with many species.
Two of the
villages on the shores of the Sea of Galilee derived
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
and profusion of fish. About thirty-seven different
been found. Some of the fishes are of a European
type, such as
the roach, the barbel, and the blenny; others are
African and tropical, such as the eel-like silurus.
There was a
regular fish-market apparently in Jerusalem (2 Chr.
3:3; 12:39; Zeph. 1:10), as there was a fish-gate
probably contiguous to it.
Sidon is the oldest fishing establishment known in
Fish in Naves Topical Bible
-Appointed for food
-Clean and unclean
Le 11:9-12; De 14:9,10
Ec 9:12; Hab 1
Isa 19:8; Am 4:2; Mt 17:27
Ne 13:16; Joh 21:13
Joh 21:9-13; Lu 24:42
-Miracles connected with
Jonah swallowed by
Jon 1:17; 2; Mt 12:40
Of the loaves and fishes
Mt 14:19; 15:36; Lu 5:6; 9:3-17
Coin obtained from mouth of
Great draught of
Lu 5:4-7; Joh 21:6
Furnished to the disciples by Jesus after his
Lu 24:42; Joh 21:9-13
Fish in Smiths 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;
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 the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
(dagh, daghah, da'gh; ichthus, ichthudion, opsarion):
1. Natural History:
Fishes abound in the inland waters of Israel as well as the
Mediterranean. They are often mentioned or indirectly
referred to both in the Old Testament and in the New
Testament, but it is remarkable that no particular kind is
distinguished by name. In Lev 11:9-12 and Dt 14:9 f,
"whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters" is declared
clean, while all that "have not fins and scales" are
forbidden. This excluded not only reptiles and amphibians,
but also, among fishes, siluroids and eels, sharks, rays and
lampreys. For our knowledge of the inland fishes of Israel
we are mainly indebted to Tristram, NHB and Fauna and Flora
of Israel; Lortet, Poissons et reptiles du Lac de Tiberiade;
and Russegger, Reisen in Europa, Asien, Afrika, 1835-1841.
The most remarkable feature of the fish fauna of the Jordan
valley is its relationship to that of the Nile and of East
Central Africa. Two Nile fishes, Chromis nilotica
Hasselquist, and Clarias macracanthus Gunth., are found in
the Jordan valley, and a number of other species found only
in the Jordan valley belong to genera (Chromis and
Hemichromis) which are otherwise exclusively African. This
seems to indicate that at some time, probably in the early
Tertiary, there was some connection between the Palestinian
and African river systems. No fish can live in the Dead Sea,
and many perish through being carried down by the swift
currents of the Jordan and other streams. There are,
however, several kinds of small fish which live in salt
springs on the borders of the Dead Sea, springs which are as
salt as the Dead Sea but which, according to Lortet, lack
the magnesium chloride which is a constituent of the Dead
Sea water and is fatal to the fish. Capoeta damascina Cuv.
and Val., one of the commonest fishes of Syria and Israel,
has been taken by the writer in large numbers in the Arnon
and other streams flowing into
the Dead Sea. This is surprising in view of the fact that
the Dead Sea seems to form an effective barrier between the
fishes of the different streams flowing into it. The
indiscriminate mention of fishes without reference to the
different kinds is well illustrated by the numerous passages
in which "the fishes of the sea, the birds of the heavens,
and the beasts of the field," or some equivalent expression,
is used to denote all living creatures, e.g. Gen 1:26; 9:2;
Nu 11:22; Dt 4:18; 1 Ki 4:33; Job 12:8; Ps 8:8; Ezek 38:20;
Hos 4:3; Zeph 1:3; 1 Cor 15:39.
2. Jonah's Fish:
An unusually large shark might fulfill the conditions of
Jonah's fish (dagh, daghah; but Mt 12:40, ketos, "whale" or
"sea monster"). The whale that is found in the Mediterranean
(Balaena australis) has a narrow throat and could not
swallow a man. No natural explanation...
Fish Spear in Naves Topical Bible
General scriptures concerning
Fish-hooks in Easton's Bible Dictionary
were used for catching fish (Amos 4:2; comp. Isa. 37:29; Jer.
16:16; Ezek. 29:4; Job. 41:1, 2; Matt. 17:27).
Fisher in Easton's Bible Dictionary
Besides its literal sense (Luke 5:2), this word is also
by our Lord to his disciples in a figurative sense
Fisherman in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
fish'-er fish'-er-man (dayyagh, dawwagh; halieus; Westcott
and Hort, The New Testament in Greek haleeus): Although but
few references to fishermen are made in the Bible, these men
and their calling are brought into prominence by Jesus' call
to certain Galilee fishermen to become His disciples (Mt
4:18,19; Mk 1:16,17). Fishermen, then as now, formed a
distinct class. The strenuousness of the work (Lk 5:2) ruled
out the weak and indolent. They were crude in manner, rough
in speech and in their treatment of others (Lk 9:49,54; Jn
18:10). James and John before they became tempered by Jesus'
influence were nicknamed the "sons of thunder" (Mk 3:17).
The fishermen's exposure to all kinds of weather made them
hardy and fearless. They were accustomed to bear with
patience many trying circumstances. They often toiled for
hours without success, and yet were always ready to try once
more (Lk 5:5; Jn 21:3). Such men, when impelled by the same
spirit as filled their Master, became indeed "fishers of
men" (Mt 4:19; Mk 1:17).
One of the striking instances of the fulfillment of prophecy
is the use by the Syrian fishermen today of the site of
ancient Tyre as a place for the spreading of their nets
Figurative: Fish were largely used as food (Hab 1:16),
hence, the lamentation of the fishermen, who provided for
all, typified general desolation (Isa 19:8). On the other
hand, abundance of fish and many fishermen indicated general
abundance (Ezek 47:10). Our modern expression, "treated like
a dog," had its counterpart in the language of the Old
Testament writers, when they portrayed the punished people
of Judah as being treated like fish. Yahweh would send many
fishers to fish them up and put sticks or hooks through
their cheeks as a fisherman strings his fish (Jer 16:16; Job
41:2). Such treatment of the people of Judah is depicted on
some of the Assyrian monuments.
Fishermen in Naves Topical Bible
Mt 4:18-21; Mr 1:16,19; Joh 21:2,3
Jer 16:16; Mt 4:19
Fishermen Scripture - Luke 5:2
And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were
gone out of them, and were washing [their] nets.
Fishermen Working Together
This way of fishing illustrates the value of co-operative effort. A number of men will work together. Some of them will row the boats, some will have to pull the rope with great strength, and some will throw stones or in other ways seek to keep the fish from getting away by frightening them. As they get close to the shore, the edges of the net are held, and it is dragged to land and the fish must be seized. Afterward the fish caught are sorted, as indicated in the parable of Jesus. What an illustrative lesson this is in co-operative soulwinning! [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Fishhook in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
fish'-hook (cir dughah, chakkah): The word "fishhooks" occurs
but twice in the American Standard Revised Version (Job 41:1;
Am 4:2). In other passages the word hook or "angle" is applied
to this instrument for fishing (Isa 19:8; Job 41:2). The
ancient Egyptian noblemen used to amuse themselves by fishing
from their private fishpools with hook and line. The Egyptian
monuments show that the hook was quite commonly used for
catching fish. The hook is still used in Bible lands, although
not as commonly as nets. It is called a cinnarat, probably
from the same root as tsinnah, the plural of which is
translated hooks in Am 4:2. In Mt 17:27, agkistron (literally,
"fishhook"), is rendered "hook."
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
Places for fishing. In Israel the main fishing places have been along the Mediterranean coast, and in the Sea of Galilee, with some little done in the streams of water. The Israelites in the wilderness said: "We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt" (Numbers 11:5). Most interest centers in the Galilee fishing, because of the Gospel incidents connected with the LORD JESUS and his early fishermen disciples. The Jews engaged in a large fishing business in the days of JESUS in the waters of Galilee. A few years ago A. C. Haddad, a native of Syria and a twentieth century resident of Israel, counted sixty men, all of them Arabs, as earning their living as Peter did, by fishing in the Sea of Galilee.24
Their methods of work have been very similar to those used by the disciples of JESUS. Such methods will fast disappear from this region now, since the new state of Israel controls this body of water, and up-to-date Western fishing equipment is taking the place of former more primitive methods. The new government has subsidized the fishing industry on Galilee.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Fishing Scripture - John 21:3
Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto
him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a
ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
Fishing at night. Galilee fishermen often have fished at night. They light their way with a blazing torch, and sighting fish they let fly their fishing spear, or fling their net into the sea.
But sometimes they fish all night with no results, as was the case with Simon Peter and his comrades. "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing" (Luke 5:5).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The location of shoals. A Galilee fisherman was seen one day to use his hand net as he waded into the waters of the sea. He cast his net several times and it came up empty. But presently the man's companion on the shore shouted to him to cast to the left, and when this was done, the net was drawn up with fish in it. Shoals of fish are sometimes seen by those on the shore when they are hidden from the view of the fishermen in the water.
Such was what happened with JESUS and his disciples as reported by John: "But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes" (John 21:46). This ability to see from the shore what the fishermen in a boat fail to see, does not do away with a miracle taking place with the disciples. It was the power of JESUS that brought the great number of fish to the particular spot where the disciples could catch them in their nets. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
spearing of fish. The book of Job refers to this method of fishing. "Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?" (Job 41:7). That such method was practiced in Egypt is proven by inscriptions picturing Egyptians using fishing-spears. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
The Art of Fishing in Easton's Bible Dictionary
was prosecuted with great industry in the waters of Israel.
It was from the fishing-nets that Jesus called his
(Mark 1:16-20), and it was in a fishing-boat he
winds and the waves (Matt. 8:26) and delivered that
series of prophecies recorded in Matt. 13. He twice
fed multitudes with fish and bread (Matt. 14:19;
15:36). It was
in the mouth of a fish that the tribute-money was
17:27). And he "ate a piece of broiled fish" with
after his resurrection (Luke 24:42, 43; comp. Acts
1:3). At the
Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-14), in obedience to his
the disciples cast their net "on the right side of
and enclosed so many that "they were not able to
draw it for the
multitude of fishes."
Two kinds of fishing-nets are mentioned in the New
(1.) The casting-net (Matt. 4:18; Mark 1:16).
(2.) The drag-net or seine (Matt. 13:48).
Fish were also caught by the fishing-hook (Matt.
If you notice a broken link or any error PLEASE report it by clicking HERE
© 1995-2019 Bible History Online