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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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NETS were used in taking wild animals (see Hunting), and birds (see Snares); but their main use has always been in fishing . The ancient Hebrews were not fishermen, nor do they seem to have eaten much fish. There is no reference in OT to fishing in the inland waters of Palestine. The fishermen and the implements named are either Egyptian or PhÅ“nician. The ‘fisher-partners’ of Job 41:6 are PhÅ“nicians; the fishermen of Isaiah 19:8 are Egyptians. Fish were taken along the Mediterranean coast with ‘line and book’ ( Job 41:1 , Isaiah 19:8 , Amos 4:2 ), and the ‘fish-spear’ or ‘harpoon’ ( Job 41:7 ). But sufficient quantities for commercial purposes could be obtained only by means of nets. ( a ) Heb. mikmâr ( Isaiah 51:20 ) and makmôr ( Psalms 141:10 ) and the fem. forms mikmôreth ( Isaiah 19:8 ) and mikmereth ( Habakkuk 1:15-16 ) is probably = Gr. sagçnç ( Matthew 13:47 ), the Arab [Note: Arabic.] , jarf , ‘ draw-net .’ It is as much as 400 metres long, 20 ft. deep, and of fine mesh, so that it sweeps everything before it. From the stern of a boat it is paid out in a great semicircle, the lower edge carried down by lead sinkers, the upper sustained by cork floats. It is then drawn ashore, with its contents, by ropes attached to the ends. Fishermen swim behind, diving to ease it over stones and other obstructions. This accounts for Simon Peter’s condition ( John 21:7 ). ( b ) Heb. chçrem ( Ezekiel 26:5 , Habakkuk 1:15 etc.), Gr. amphiblçstron ( Matthew 14:18 etc.), the mod. shabakeh , ‘ cast-net. ’ It is circular, of close mesh, with a cord attached to the centre. The fisherman gathers it together, arranges it on his arm and shoulder, and moves, or wades, stealthily along the shore until he sees signs of fish within reach; then, with a skilful cast, the net flies out and drops full circle on the water; lead beads round the circumference carry it to the bottom, enclosing the fish, which are then secured at leisure. ( c ) A net used to-day, called m’batten , consists of three nets strung on a single rope, the two outer being of wide, the inner of close, mesh. It is let down in fairly deep water, parallel with the shore. The fish pass through the outer net, pushing the inner before them through the wide meshes on the other side, thus being entangled. The net is pulled up and emptied into the boats. ( d ) Gr. diktyon ( Matthew 4:20 etc.) is a term used for nets in general. In the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] amphiblçstron and sagçnç are used indiscriminately as tr. [Note: translate or translation.] alike of chçrem and mikmâr , etc.

A tax is levied on all fish caught in the Sea of Galilee. The favourite fishing-grounds are near ‘Ain et-Fulîyeh , south of el-Mejdel; the bay at et-Tâbigha; and the waters of el-Bateihah in the N.E. The Upper Jordan and et-Hûleh lie within the private lands of the Sultan, to whom payment is made for fishing rights. See an excellent account of, The Fisheries of Galilee’ in PEFSt [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] , Jan. 1908, p. 40 ff., by Dr. Masterman of Jerusalem.

W. Ewing.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Nets'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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