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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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NETS.—Nets were in ancient times used not only in fishing but in hunting beasts and in bird-catching. In the Gospels they are mentioned only in connexion with fishing, which was an important industry on the very prolific inland waters of Palestine. See Fish. Three terms occur.

1. δίκτυον (perhaps from δικεῖν, ‘to cast’), Vulgate rete, is the general term, including various kinds of nets. It is found in the parallel accounts of the call of the disciples (Matthew 4:20-21, Mark 1:18-19, Luke 5:2-5) always in the plural. In St. John’s narrative of the great draught of fishes (John 21:6; John 21:8; John 21:11) it is found in the sing., possibly referring to a net of larger size. See 3 below.

2. ἀμφίβληστρον (which may perhaps be an adjective, δίκτυον being understood), a casting-net (deriv. ἀμφιβάλλω, which verb stands, without a noun, for the action of the fisherman in using the net, Mark 1:16), bell- or pear-shaped, thrown by hand from the shore or from a boat, which was skilfully wielded so as to fall upon the water with its circular mouth fully extended. The edges, being weighted, sank immediately to the bottom, and the fish within the area of the mouth were enclosed. This net is still much used in Palestine. The individual skill required in its employment is in point if it was with this kind of net in mind that our Lord invited the fishermen to become ‘fishers of men.’ In the Gospels the word is found only in Matthew 4:18 and (in the Textus Receptus ) Mark 1:16.

3. σαγήνη (Lat. [so Vulgate ] sagena; French and English, ‘seine’), from σάττω, ‘to load, fill’: a drag-net (Matthew 13:47 (Revised Version margin) ) or sweep-net, often of immense size (Manilius, ‘vasta sagena’). Such nets have been in use from early times down to the present day, and are extensively employed on our own coasts, as, for instance, in Cornwall. A common way of working the seine is to have one end of it attached to the shore, while the other is taken seawards by a boat in a wide circuit, and at length brought to land again. The upper side of the net is sustained by corks, while the lower, being weighted, sweeps along the sea-bottom. The ends are gradually drawn in till the whole net is brought up on the beach, carrying with it all the fish in the area through which it has passed. The scine may also be worked entirely from a boat or boats. In classical Latin this kind of net is called everrieulum (verro, ‘to sweep’); cf. Hom. Il. v. 487, λίνον πάναγρον, a take-all net. σαγήνη is found in the Gospels only in Matthew 13:47 (translation ‘net,’ the word ‘draw-net, is not in the English text, but only in the Authorized Version chapter-heading), where the choice of this term instead of δίκτυον or ἀμφίβληστρον greatly strengthens the meaning of the parable. See Draw-Net. It occurs in LXX Septuagint Is 19:8, Ezekiel 26:5; and ἀμφίβληστρον and σαγήνη are mentioned together in Habakkuk 1:15.

Literature.—R. Flint, Christ’s Kingdom upon Earth, 245; H. S. Holland, God’s City, 206; W. C. E. Newbolt, Counsels of Faith and Practice, 169.

A. E. Ross.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Nets'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​n/nets.html. 1906-1918.
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