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Fish

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

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Fish were plentiful in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Sea of Galilee, but there were none in the Dead Sea, as the water was too salty (Nehemiah 13:16; Matthew 4:18; Luke 5:1-7). According to the food laws set out by Moses, Israelites were allowed to eat fish (Deuteronomy 14:9-10; Luke 24:42-43; John 6:11; John 21:9) and several of Jesus’ apostles were fishermen (Matthew 4:18; Matthew 4:21; John 21:1-3). The Bible records one story of a fish so large that it swallowed a man whole (Jonah 1:17; Jonah 2:1; Matthew 12:40).

People used various methods to catch fish. Some fished with a hook (Isaiah 19:8; Habakkuk 1:15; Matthew 17:27) but commercial fishermen usually used a drag-net. This was a net that they threw into the sea and dragged towards either the shore or the boat from which they were fishing (Habakkuk 1:15; Matthew 13:47-48; Luke 5:4-7; John 21:6-8). Most commercial fishing of this sort was done at night (Luke 5:5; John 21:3). Another kind of net was the smaller cast-net, which the fishermen, standing on the shore or in shallow water, cast around him and then drew in (Isaiah 19:8; Matthew 4:18-20).

After bringing their fish to land, the fishermen sorted them, putting the larger ones into baskets for sale and throwing the useless ones away (Matthew 13:47-48). When the men were finished with their nets, they washed them (Luke 5:2), dried them (Ezekiel 26:5) and sometimes mended them (Matthew 4:21). The Fish Gate was an entrance in Jerusalem’s city wall that fishermen and traders used when bringing their fish into the city to sell (Nehemiah 13:16; Zephaniah 1:10-11).

Jesus used illustrations from fishing in his preaching. As fishermen go looking for fish, so Jesus’ disciples are to go looking for people to bring into his kingdom (Matthew 4:19). As a fishing net contains both good and bad fish, so among those who claim to be in God’s kingdom there are the true and the false. And as the good fish are separated from the bad, so the true and the false will be separated in the day of final judgment (Matthew 13:47-50).

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Fish'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​bbd/​f/fish.html. 2004.
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