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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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dag , implying "increase" or "fecundity". Fish without fins or scales were "unclean" (Leviticus 11:9-10); aquatic mammalia, amphibia, and reptiles were hereby prohibited. This was the distinction between the good and the bad fish in Matthew 13:48. The "great fish" of Jonah (Jonah 1:17) was, according to different views, the dogfish, the shark, whose cartilaginous skeleton adapts it for swallowing large animals, or the whale, in the cavity of whose throat there would be room for a man. The slaying of their fish was a heavy blow from Jehovah on the Egyptians, whose river, canals, and lakes so abounded in fish, and who lived so much on it (Exodus 7:18-21; Psalms 105:29; Numbers 11:5; Isaiah 19:8). The fish was worshipped as the emblem of fecundity; Dagon, among the Philistines, half man half fish; also in Assyria. Hence the worship is forbidden (Deuteronomy 4:18). The "fishgate" at Jerusalem implies an adjoining fish market, supplied chiefly through Tyrian traders who imported it (Nehemiah 13:16; Nehemiah 3:3; Nehemiah 12:39; 2 Chronicles 33:14).

The fish of the Lake of Galilee are mainly identical with those especially found in the Nile. The casting net or the larger drag net was the chief instrument used for catching fish (Habakkuk 1:15); the line and hook, and the "barbed iron" or spear, were also used (Amos 4:2; Matthew 17:27; Job 41:7). Fishing is the image for taking souls in the gospel net, not to be destroyed but to be saved alive (Ezekiel 47:10; Matthew 4:19; Luke 5:5-10). Night was thought the best time for net fishing. Fishing symbolizes also sudden destruction by invading enemies (Jeremiah 16:16; Amos 4:2; Habakkuk 1:16; Ecclesiastes 9:12; Ezekiel 29:3-5).

In Job 41:2, "canst thou put an hook (or 'agmon , "rope of rushes") into leviathan's nose, or bore his jaw through with a thorn?" or hook by which fish were secured, when thrown into the water, to keep them alive. In John 21:11 the 153 fish taken were all "great fish," whereas in the corresponding earlier miracle (Luke 5:6) this is not said; the net broke in the earlier, not so in the miracle after the resurrection, the latter typifying the eternal safety of the finally elect, all accounted "great" before God. Christ's sermon and parables (Matthew 13) were delivered from a fishing boat; so Luke 5:3. He fed the multitudes with fish as well as bread (Matthew 14:19; Matthew 15:36). He paid the tribute with a stateer ("piece of money") from a fish taken with a hook (Matthew 17:27). He ate broiled fish after His resurrection (Luke 24:42-43; again, John 21:9-13).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Fish'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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Friday, November 27th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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